Matt Kemp’s sprained left ankle is still an issue

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Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp has batted .314 with an .870 OPS in 39 plate appearances since returning from his severe left ankle sprain on September 16. But that ankle injury still lingers.

Kemp was scratched from the Dodgers’ starting lineup on Saturday night against the Rockies with what is being termed an ankle flareup and manager Don Mattingly acknowledged in his postgame chat that the 29-year-old is nowhere near 100 percent. “I don’t think he’s running full speed,” Mattingly said. “We’re not going to get the 40-[steals] type guy. That’s just not there, I don’t think, at this point from what we’ve been through with the ankle and the hammy and all that. We’re not going to be that. But we’re still pretty good. He shows he can do a lot of things.”

“It’s just irritated. Nothing crazy,” Kemp told MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick. “I played the last six games and it got a little sore. … I couldn’t get loose and decided not to play today. Sprained ankles are tricky sometimes.”

Andre Ethier (ankle, shin) and Yasiel Puig (leg) are also hobbled heading into Sunday’s Game 162. But the good news for the National League West-champion Dodgers is that the NLDS won’t begin until Thursday.

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).