Brennan: reign in the post-clinching booze-blasts

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We see a lot of beer and champagne celebrations after teams clinch, well, everything. When I’m feeling particularly grumpy and humorless I tend to think that maybe teams should save such celebrations until they win the pennant at the very least because, really, these things are getting a bit rote and scripted and isn’t one celebration enough?

When I’m not feeling grumpy, however — and that’s most of the time — I realize that these are grown men who can and should be able to do whatever the hell they want. And in no instance is my objection to them going to be some sort of puritanical “this is all too much alcohol and debauchery” thing. Unlike Buzz Killington here:

The stunning excess exhibited in these celebrations is perhaps the biggest problem of all. This isn’t a matter of just popping a cork or two or 10; this is an all-out, binged-up, beer and champagne blast. It would be one thing if it were being done in private, but it’s not. It’s there for all of us to see, and it will repeat itself over and over again in the coming weeks.

That was actually Christine Brennan of USA Today, who could not be reached for comment because she was off thinking of the children someplace. Mostly Bryce Harper, who she mentions a lot in this story even though it seemed like the Nationals and Harper took great pains to not have the underage kid drink. Fair enough, though. You don’t want scenes of teenagers boozing it up.

Beyond that, however, I’d personally rather see these team-sanctioned booze blasts than to have them curtailed, which encourages the players to go out on the town to party.  Because if it’s official, you have to imagine that the team is making sure the players all have sober rides home. And as far as I can recall, we’ve never had a DUI incident after one of these clinching blow-outs.  Do it off-site and you’re inviting chaos.

A.J. Hinch: “We’ll use every pitcher in Game 7 if we have to”

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It’s not entirely clear why the Astros threw Ken Giles into the ninth inning of Game 6 of the ALCS. With a six-run advantage and the bottom half of the Yankees’ lineup due up, pushing the series to its seven-game capacity looked like a sure bet. Giles may be one of Houston’s better bullpen arms, but he’s not their only option, and it would have made more sense to keep him fresh for a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night.

Of course, there’s no such thing as a sure bet when it comes to postseason baseball. That’s more or less what Astros’ manager A.J. Hinch had to say after the game, telling reporters that he had envisioned a quick three outs from his closer as they tried to pull back from the brink of elimination. “We didn’t have the luxury of limping into that inning,” Hinch said. “We’ve seen how these guys can explode in these innings.”

It’s not difficult to recall the Yankees’ explosive drive in the eighth inning of Game 4, when they exploited the holes in Houston’s ‘pen and evened the series with Gary Sanchez‘s go-ahead double off of Giles. Back home in Minute Maid Park, however, there was a slightly different feel to the eighth and ninth innings of Game 6. Jose Altuve led off the eighth with a solo home run, followed by Alex Bregman‘s two-run double and Evan Gattis‘ sac fly. In the ninth, Giles labored through a 23-pitch outing to lock down the win, handing out a base hit and a seven-pitch walk before eventually whiffing Chase Headley on three straight pitches for the last out.

So, while Hinch’s decision to lean on Giles in Game 6 may have felt wasteful, his concerns were not entirely unfounded. He’s prepared to roll with the same strategy during Saturday’s series finale, too, leaving nothing on the table as the Astros battle for their first World Series showdown since 2005. According to Dallas Keuchel, that means all hands on deck — except for Justin Verlander, whose four wins, 24 strikeouts and 1.46 postseason ERA have gotten the Astros as far as he could possibly be expected to take them. “No pitcher is going to be in the dugout,” said Keuchel. “They’re all going to be in the bullpen, myself included. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to get to the World Series, the same way the Yankees are, and that’s a nice feeling to have.”

Does that mean Giles will be available for a Game 7 appearance? Stranger things have happened. Joe Sheehan notes that the right-hander has pitched in back-to-back days 13 times this year, though he’s never thrown as many as 23 pitches on Day 1. Granted, he likely doesn’t have enough left in the tank for another 20+ pitch run on Saturday, but with the World Series on the line, any help he can offer will be invaluable.