Nearly 14 months after taking a knee to the head while trying to break up a double play against the Blue Jays, Justin Morneau continues to suffer the aftereffects of a concussion. He’s out of Minnesota’s lineup tonight with what the team is calling “mild concussion symptoms.”
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen reports that Morneau started developing a headache Monday and that the Twins have had him take baseline tests.
With the Twins 56-78 and 17 games back in the AL Central, there certainly won’t be any fooling around with Morneau’s condition. It’s been a pretty miserable year for him anyway: he was limited by neck and wrist injuries early on and he surgery at the end of June to remove a fragment of a herniated disk from his wrist. The new concussion symptoms might be related to an incident Sunday when he drove after a ball and jammed his shoulder.
So, barring a very quick recovery, the Twins might be best off just shutting Morneau down for the year. It’s been a lost campaign for him anyway. He’s hit .227/.285/.333 with four homers and 30 RBI in 264 at-bats.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.