What’s left to play for in Game 162?

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We’ve played 161 games and still not everything is decided. What’s left?

American League

The Yankees hold a one-game lead over the Orioles. A New York win or an Orioles loss gives the division to the Yankees.  If the Bombers lose and the O’s win, we have a one-game playoff tomorrow, in Baltimore, to see who has to play in the wild card game.  If the Yankees win today, they also clinch home field advantage in the AL playoffs.

The Rangers and A’s are all tied up. No tiebreaker scenarios here. Winner takes all, starting just after noon Pacific time today, in Oakland.

National League

The Dodgers loss to the Giants last night sealed the wild card for the St. Louis Cardinals. Everything is now decided in the National League. St. Louis heads to Atlanta on Friday for the wild card game. The winner of that one plays the Nationals in the NLDS. If the Reds win tonight and the Nationals lose, the Reds will have the best record in the NL, forcing the Nats to travel to San Francisco for the NLDS while the Reds play the wild card playoff winner.

Triple Crown/MVP

Miguel Cabrera went 2 for 3 last night, pushing his average up to .331. He leads Mike Trout by .007 points now.  Even if Cabrera takes an 0 for 4 today and Trout goes 4 for 4, they tie at .3285.  You figure that, even if he plays, Cabrera would be yanked if he went, like, 0 for 2. And for what it’s worth, if Cabrera totally sits out today, Trout has to go 6 for 6, so yeah. In any event, the Angels game starts 90 minutes before the Tigers game does today. Jim Leyland and everyone else will know if Trout goes on a tear.

The real threat is Josh Hamilton, playing a big game in Oakland today. But let’s define “real.”  Hamilton would have to hit two homers and Cabrera none for Cabrera to lose out on the home run portion of the Triple Crown.  He has the RBI title in the bag.

Skip out on the afternoon at work and watch the A’s-Rangers game, guys.

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).