NL All-Star voting update

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Yadier Molina and Buster Posey are neck-and-neck tatto. David Wright is getting help from the cougars! Did Domonoic Brown do something awful to the pets of every All-Star voter?

Confused? You won’t be, after this week’s episode of … “SOAP!”

Er, sorry. After this week’s NL All-Star voting update:

FIRST BASE
Joey Votto, Reds 2,047,945
Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs 1,524,517
Allen Craig, Cardinals 1,191,229
Brandon Belt, Giants 997,066
Freddie Freeman, Braves 924,937

SECOND BASE
Brandon Phillips, Reds 2,021,277
Marco Scutaro, Giants 1,717,875
Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 1,508,314
Chase Utley, Phillies 982,966
Daniel Murphy, Mets 786,414

SHORTSTOP
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies 2,443,772
Brandon Crawford, Giants 1,293,476
Jean Segura, Brewers 1,188,317
Pete Kozma, Cardinals 905,976
Andrelton Simmons, Braves 771,665

THIRD BASE
Pablo Sandoval, Giants 2,180,147
David Wright, Mets 2,053,744
David Freese, Cardinals 1,152,038
Chris Johnson, Braves 829,420
Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals 686,905

CATCHER
Buster Posey, Giants 2,606,434
Yadier Molina, Cardinals 2,543,588
John Buck, Mets 866,471
Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers 630,902
Brian McCann, Braves 627,056

OUTFIELD
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals 2,385,240
Justin Upton, Braves 2,054,225
Bryce Harper, Nationals 1,981,030
Ryan Braun, Brewers 1,645,094
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies 1,508,355
Matt Holliday, Cardinals 1,330,471
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates 1,319,419
Hunter Pence, Giants 1,286,163
Shin-Soo Choo, Reds 1,274,755
Angel Pagan, Giants 1,131,176
Carlos Gomez, Brewers 1,027,684
Gregor Blanco, Giants 934,174
Jon Jay, Cardinals 884,323
Domonic Brown, Phillies 837,748
B.J. Upton, Braves 733,744

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.