Red Sox prospect reaches base in 16 straight plate appearances

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Single-A Salem’s Michael Almanzar, the son of former big-league reliever Carlos Almanzar, got hits in his first three at-bats Wednesday to reach base in 16 straight plate appearances before flying out in his final at-bat of the night.

The minor league record for such a feat is unknown, but Almanzar matched the modern-day major league record established by Ted Williams in 1957.

Almanzar, who received a $1.5 million bonus to sign with the Red Sox out of the Dominican Republic five years ago, began the streak by going 2-for-2 with two walks on Sunday. He followed that up by going 3-for-3 with a homer and a HBP on Monday and 4-for-4 with a walk on Tuesday. Three more hits tonight got him to 16.

Almanzar was viewed as a major disappointment entering the season — he hit just .199 with four homers in 397 at-bats for two A-ball teams in 2011 — but he’s put himself back on the map by hitting .316/.369/.481 with nine homers for Salem this year. He’s just 21, and he’s routinely been young for his leagues. Double-A next year will determine whether he’s a legitimate prospect. Since he’s made the move from third base to first, his bat will have to carry him.

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).