Red Sox continue moving the goalposts against the Rays

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To their credit, the Rays have remained competitive throughout Game 2 against the Red Sox despite starter David Price looking not-so-sharp as well as some defensive miscues by the Tampa Bay defense. After the Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the first, the Rays scratched back for a run in the second on a sacrifice fly by Delmon Young. Then, after the Sox scored twice in the third and once in the fourth to go up 5-1, the Rays jumped right back into it thanks to a two-out, two-run double to center by James Loney. In fact, Evan Longoria could have tied the game up with one swing of the bat with one out in the fifth inning, but he ended up walking before Ben Zobrist struck out to end the frame.

The Red Sox offense has been relentless against Price, however, getting to him with selective aggression. In five innings of work, they have tagged Price for eight hits and a walk, pushing across six runs in total. After the Rays’ uplifting top of the fifth inning, the Red Sox immediately got a run back. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the frame with a single, his third hit in as many at-bats on the night and his fifth consecutive hit going back into Game 1. After Shane Victorino flied out to right fielder Wil Myers, Dustin Pedroia laced a double off the Green Monster in left field, allowing Ellsbury to score from first to bump the score to 6-3. Price was finally able to exit after a laborious 20-pitch inning.

It very well may be Price’s final inning as the Red Sox clearly have a working game plan against him, and he was visibly upset throughout the game — frustration likely directed at himself, but perhaps at some of the mistakes his defense has made behind him as well. (Update: Rays manager Joe Maddon has elected to allow Price to start the sixth. Now we wonder if Price will come out for the seventh with his pitch count at 91.)

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).