Ron Roenicke: Interleague play is unfair

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The Brewers look to be in a dogfight with the Cardinals in the NL Central all year. It’s hard enough to compete with the Cardinals, however, without being saddled with a tougher schedule. But a tougher schedule is what Milwaukee has, thanks to an interleague slate that includes trips to Boston and New York, a series against the Rays, and two series against the Twins for Milwaukee, while the Cardinals face Kansas City, Toronto and Baltimore.

In light of this imbalance, I have a hard time disagreeing with a thing Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said yesterday when asked about interleague play:

“It’s not fair. Interleague play is not fair. That’s all there is to it. I like interleague play. I think it’s really good. It’s good for the fans; I enjoy it as a coach and manager. I think the players enjoy playing different teams. So we all like it. The question is how in the world do we make this thing fair for everybody? That’s really difficult because of the different teams you have in different divisions. How do you divide those things up fairly for everybody? How do you do that?”

It’s probably too crazy to expect baseball to go back to purely balanced schedules given the gate and TV ratings brought by divisional rival games like the Yankees and the Red Sox. Such a state of affairs already means that teams competing for the wild card in different divisions have different schedules.  But compounding matters with schedules of radically different difficulty between teams competing for the same division is simply unacceptable, and Ron Roenicke has every right to complain about it.

 

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).