Tim Lincecum allows one hit over eight innings in win

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Tim Lincecum’s resurgence continued Thursday, as the two-time Cy Young Award winner limited the Brewers to one hit over eight scoreless innings and struck out eight in a victory.

Lincecum was shelled for eight runs in the start after his 148-pitch no-hitter last month, but he’s allowed just three runs in 22 innings since. In his last six outings, he’s turned in five quality starts and amassed a 47/10 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings.

That stretch has lowered Lincecum’s ERA from 4.66 to 4.18. The thinking was a couple of weeks ago that the Giants didn’t need to deal Lincecum before the trade deadline because he’d clear waivers and could still be part of an August deal. That now seems highly unlikely; Lincecum is a free agent at season’s end, so money isn’t a huge issue.

On the plus side for the Giants, as long as Lincecum finishes strong, there won’t be any reason to be nervous about making him a qualifying offer and at least securing a draft pick if he bolts. The Giants could still trade Lincecum to the team with the worst record that claims him — the Nationals would seem to be the most likely option there or maybe the Diamondbacks if the Nats pass — but he’ll most likely finish the season in San Francisco.

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).