Yankees crush Red Sox, claim AL East lead over O’s

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The Yankees exploded for nine runs in the second on the way to a 10-2 victory over the Red Sox on Monday and moved a game up on the Orioles for first place in the AL East after Baltimore lost to Tampa Bay 5-3.

The Bombers hit four homers as part of their huge frame, with Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira all going deep.

Martin’s homer was somewhat controversial, as a fan — in a Red Sox shirt, no less — reached over the wall with his cap in an attempt to haul it in. The ball, though, ended up bouncing off his wrist, suggesting that it would have hit off the top of the wall and bounced over if not for the interference. It was ruled a homer on the field, and the call went unchanged after being reviewed.

The Red Sox bounced back to outscore the Yankees 2-1 over the rest of the game, giving them something to build on for… no, really, who am I kidding?

CC Sabathia cruised to his 15th victory, allowing two runs and four hits in eight innings against a lineup that included two regulars (Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia). Clay Buchholz allowed eight of the nine runs in the second and was pulled after 1 2/3.

Tampa Bay’s win was much closer, and it at least temporarily kept the Rays in postseason contention, pending Oakland’s result tonight. Alex Cobb allowed just one run and two hits in seven innings to improve to 11-9. Rookie Wei-Yin Chen gave up four runs — one earned — in 6 2/3 innings to take the loss, leaving him 12-11.

Fernando Rodney broke his tie with Dennis Eckersley and is now in position to sport the lowest ERA of all-time after pitching a scoreless ninth for his 47th save. He’s at 0.605, down from 0.614 to begin the day. The Rays wanted to get through the game without using Rodney, but after entering to begin the ninth, Kyle Farnsworth gave up a single and a homer in what had been a 5-1 game.

The Orioles will now need some help from the Red Sox to avoid slipping into the wild card position. The Rays still have a slight chance at the second wild card, but they’ll need the A’s to lose three straight to Texas.

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).