Two more ejections as Red Sox complete sweep of Orioles

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Home-plate umpire Marty Foster took control of this one with nearly as much finesse as Wily Mo Pena employs attacking a fastball.

Red Sox right-hander Kyle Weiland was ejected from his first big-league start and Orioles reliever Mike Gonzalez was tossed an inning later in the finale of the four-game series in Boston on Sunday.

The Red Sox won the game 8-6 to complete a four-game sweep of the reeling Orioles.

Two days after David Ortiz and Kevin Gregg touched off a brawl, there were three HBPs in this one.  Weiland started it off, hitting Mark Reynolds in the hand with a fastball in the third.  Reynolds stayed in to run, but was removed in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the fourth, Orioles reliever Jeremy Guthrie hit Kevin Youkilis, leading to warnings being issued for the second straight day.  The problem there is that the pitch was a changeup.  Guthrie clearly had no intention of hitting Youkilis, but Foster felt he had to gain control of the situation or some such nonsense.

So, in the fifth, when a Weiland fastball clipped Vladimir Guerrero in the hand, both Weiland and Red Sox manager Terry Francona were tossed.  The Red Sox were up 7-6 at the time, and they were hoping Weiland would get through the inning and become eligible for the win.  Again, there was no intention from Weiland there.

In the sixth, there may well have been some intention.  Mike Gonzalez, who ran a pitch up and in on the Yankees’ Chris Dickerson that left Dickerson with a concussion back in April, threw a fastball behind Ortiz and to the backstop.  It could have slipped, but Gonzalez was the least likely of any Baltimore pitchers, besides maybe Gregg, to get the benefit of the doubt.  He and manager Buck Showalter were tossed immediately.

The dugouts never did get involved in any of the action, and things went smoothly after Gonzalez’s ejection.  The Red Sox added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh that they didn’t need, as the Orioles never scored again after touching up Weiland for six runs in the second.

The Red Sox knocked Mitch Atkins out early, as Marco Scutaro, Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis all homered in the second.   That led to the rare relief appearance for Guthrie.   Guthrie was actually pretty successful in his 3 1/3 innings, allowing just one run, but since it was the go-ahead run, he was tagged with his 12th loss of the season.  The unlucky right-hander is nine games under .500 despite a decent 4.18 ERA.

Alfredo Aceves recorded the win.  He pitched the first three of five consecutive hitless innings for the Red Sox pen.  Daniel Bard worked the eighth, and Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 20th save.

Boston won for the 10th time in 11 games to finish the first half 55-35.  It’s the AL’s best record, though the Yankees are just one game behind at 53-35.

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).