Could the Angels move to a new downtown L.A. ballpark?

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This is fun. And, if you’re the Dodgers or an Angels fan who lives in Orange County, kind of scary: Angels owner Arte Moreno met with the president of AEG, and it at least suggests the possibility that Moreno is investigating moving the Angels to a new ballpark to be built in downtown Los Angeles.

For those who are unaware, AEG owns the Staples Center downtown and is behind the substantial surrounding entertainment/dining/everything development.  Currently they are also the group pushing to build a football stadium down there in order to draw an NFL team.

Bill Shaikin’s report suggests that this could lead to a new ballpark, and notes that Moreno suggested as much as long ago as 2005.  And of course the meeting is notable in and of itself.  The problem, though, is that last year AEG said this when people started talking about the Dodgers moving downtown:

“Under no circumstances are we interested in building a baseball stadium. If you logically just think through playing baseball games in April, May and June when we have Lakers, Clippers and Kings playoff games that are scheduled on a week’s notice. Look at the conflict that would be created during that time. If you logically think through baseball playoff games which are scheduled on a week’s notice and we have Kings, Lakers and Clippers beginning their season, it doesn’t work.”

Obviously people can change their minds about such things, but that was a pretty detailed denial of baseball interest. Why they’d change now is unclear. Maybe because they’d catch less civic hell by luring the Angels up from Anaheim than they would taking the Dodgers out of Chavez Ravine. Maybe because they know something we don’t about the viability of a football stadium downtown and are willing to investigate plan B now.

Or maybe, like any good business, AEG will always take a meeting to listen to things even if it’s not that interested in pursuing the opportunity. Call it the Solozzo principle.  And maybe Moreno is just using the existence of AEG and the possibility of a new stadium to wring some sort of concessions out of the city of Anaheim as the team’s 2016 opt-out window nears.

All worth watching, of course.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.