Timmy is back? Lincecum delivers best start of season

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“Timmy was Timmy today.”

At least, that’s what manager Bruce Bochy said after the two-time Cy Young Award winner shut out the Dodgers for seven innings and struck out eight in a 3-0 win.

It was Lincecum’s first victory since April 28. He lowered his ERA from 6.07 to 5.60.

Lincecum’s turnaround actually seemed to begin last week against the A’s. In that one, he overcame a dreadful three-run first to retire 18 of the final 20 hitters he faced.

Along the way, Lincecum apparently picked up a new personal catcher. Bochy said he talked to Buster Posey last night and informed him that Hector Sanchez would do the catching for Lincecum for now. Posey started at first base today and went 1-for-2 with two walks.

Of course, it should be noted that Lincecum’s success in his last two starts has come against two incredibly underwhelming lineups. After the Dodgers lost Andre Ethier in the first inning to a strained oblique today, their best hitter was either A.J. Ellis or Bobby Abreu.

Still, Lincecum is showing both better velocity and command than he started the season with. It’s doubtful he’ll return to Cy Young form, but maybe he’ll resume being an asset as the Giants attempt to win the NL West. After completing a three-game sweep today, they and the Dodgers have identical 43-33 records.

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).