The Nationals are trying to keep Phillies fans from filling up their ballpark

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Remember how all those Phillies fans came down to D.C. the past couple of years and basically took over the Nationals’ ballpark during Nats-Phillies series?  Yeah, that was awesome. Especially considering that it was helped out in a major way by the team actively soliciting group sales in the Philadelphia area prior to regular season tickets even going on sale, ensuring that Philly fans had an advantage.

Well, the Nationals have re-thunk that strategy. Here’s Nats’ COO Andy Feffer:

“For several years now, our fans, everybody, have been screaming about the number of Phillies fans that invade our park when we have a series here at Nationals Park,” Feffer said. “Frankly, I’m tired of seeing the Phillies fans in our ballpark in Washington more than anything. We sat down as a group and we said, ‘You know what? It’s time to take our park back in Washington and get our fans in this park.’

The solution: the Nationals have launched what they call the “Take Back the Park” initiative. Beginning Friday, single-game tickets for the May 4-6 Nationals vs. Phillies series are only available to season-ticket holders and fans who reside in Washington, Maryland or Virginia.

Thank goodness such a system cannot be beat. Because, really, no one in Philly knows anyone in those three states who could order tickets for them. Nor can they employ proxies to conceal their IP address when ordering online. That would be unheard of!  I mean, if people could do that, they’d also be able to get past MLB.tv’s blackout policies by tricking ’em into thinking you were logging on from an un-blacked-out area.

Which has never happened ever! Especially during a particular Reds-Braves series last year!

Joe Girardi won’t use Masahiro Tanaka in Game 7

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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.