Starter Aaron Harang was far from dominant and Andrelton Simmons made a rare pair of ugly errors at shortstop, but the Braves produced 10 runs on 14 hits Saturday to beat the Diamondbacks. It was the ninth win in a row for Atlanta — currently the top dog in the National League East by 1 1/2 games.
Simmons made up for his defensive miscues by tallying four RBI and left fielder Justin Upton slugged a two-run homer. Even center fielder B.J. Upton got in on the act, going 2-for-5 with two runs scored.
The Braves will be looking for their 10th consecutive victory on Sunday afternoon and a three-game sweep of the visiting Diamondbacks. Alex Wood is on the bump.
Your box scores and recaps from Saturday …
Orioles 2, Red Sox 3 (Game 1)
Mariners 3, White Sox 2 (14 innings)
Yankees 1, Twins 2 (11 innings)
Marlins 6, Cardinals 5
Cubs 0, Nationals 13
Phillies 2, Pirates 3
Rays 7, Tigers 2
Diamondbacks 4, Braves 10
Brewers 1, Reds 0
Dodgers 7, Rockies 8
Royals 3, Indians 7
Rangers 5, Mets 3
Giants 5, Padres 3 (10 innings)
Orioles 7, Red Sox 4 (Game 2)
Astros 5, Angels 11
Blue Jays 1, Athletics 5
Following the Astros’ decisive 4-0 shutout over the Yankees on Saturday night, Justin Verlander was named the Most Valuable Player of the American League Championship Series. Hall of Fame outfielder and former MLB manager Frank Robinson handed the award to Verlander, who was beaming as he thanked his teammates and members of the Astros’ organization.
“I’ve got to say, it came down to the wire, and one thing kept going off in my head was Dallas,” Verlander told the crowd gathered at Minute Maid Park. “When he called me, he said that I won’t regret my decision to join the Houston Astros. And here we are right now, it’s the best feeling in the world. We’ve got four more wins to win a World Series, and I do not regret my decision to come here. This is the best feeling a player can have. So, thank you.”
Among a cast that boasted the likes of Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and Dallas Keuchel, among others, Verlander was spectacular. He locked down a complete game win in Game 2, holding the Yankees to one run on five hits and a walk and striking out a postseason-high 13 batters. In Game 6, he saved the Astros from elimination with seven scoreless innings, helping propel the club to their eventual 7-1 finish that set up their series-clinching finale on Saturday.
The 34-year-old righty also took his place among some postseason greats. Thanks to an eight-strikeout outing on Friday night, his collective 136 postseason strikeouts are good for sixth-most in MLB playoff history, just a smidgen shy of Tom Glavine (143), Mike Mussina (145), Roger Clemens (173), Andy Pettitte (183) and John Smoltz (199). He also joined Bob Gibson, Curt Schilling and Sandy Koufax as one of just four hurlers to strike out 20+ Yankees in a postseason series.