Brandon Belt went 0-for-8 with a platinum sombrero

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Last night the Mets and Giants played 16 innings on the West Coast, which caused me to stay up until 3:00 a.m. and tweet some very stupid things. It also allowed Brandon Belt to get eight at-bats and the Giants first baseman went hitless while striking out five times in the 4-3 loss.

Striking out four times in a game in a “golden sombrero” and I believe striking out five times is a “platinum sombrero.” Of course, striking out five times while going 0-for-8 is a whole different level of misery, so I searched Baseball-Reference.com for all the instances of a player going hitless in at least eight at-bats with at least five strikeouts.

Brandon Belt      07/08/2013
Chris Davis       05/06/2012
Jim Thome         07/02/2004
Cecil Cooper      06/14/1974
Bobby Darwin      05/12/1972
Billy Cowan       07/09/1971
Tony Conigliaro   07/09/1971
Ron Swoboda       04/15/1968
Byron Browne      07/19/1966
Rick Reichardt    05/31/1966

So last night Belt became the 10th player in MLB history to have at least eight hitless at-bats while striking out at least five times in a game, including just the third player to do it since 1975. And there are plenty of very good hitters on that list. Chris Davis is the last guy to do it, about 14 months ago, and he’s currently leading MLB in homers and slugging percentage. And the last guy before him was Jim Thome, who’s headed to the Hall of Fame.

Also of note: Two of the 10 instances came in the same game, back on July 9, 1971, when the A’s beat the Angels 1-0 in 20 innings and Angels teammates Tony Conigliaro and Billy Cowan each went 0-for-8 with five and six strikeouts, respectively. They were hitting third and fourth in the Angels’ lineup, too.

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).