All-Stars are looking forward to Kansas City next year

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The 2012 All-Star Game is in Kansas City, so Sam Mellinger made a point to ask this year’s All-Stars how they feel about that.  After some de riguer complaining about the heat, they all said some pretty nice things about it:

I asked 15 All-Stars about Kansas City and what they think the game will be like next year. Seven of them mentioned the weather, including Justin Verlander, who shut down the Royals the other day when it was a heat index of 113 in the eighth inning.

But you know what more of them said?

Good place. Great food. Beautiful stadium. Easy to get around. The Plaza helps make Kansas City a favorite around the league, and the more you talk to folks (even privately) the more you see this as one time our collective inferiority complex is severely misplaced.

Mellinger goes on to talk about all of the good points of Kansas City from the ballplayers’ point of view. And there are a lot of them: easy travel to the city due to the central location. Hotel close to the ballpark for all of the events they have to deal with. Nice field. Big clubhouses. Good food.

I’ve only been there, like, three times, but I’m a closet Kansas City lover myself. Maybe it’s my Midwesternism coming out, but it’s just an insanely easy place to manage for a few days, and every time I’m there, something good seems to happen to me, be it food or baseball or something else.

Heck, I may even go to next year’s game.

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).