Pirates demote Gregory Polanco to Triple-A

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Gregory Polanco got off to a great start after the Pirates called him up in mid-June, but the 22-year-old top prospect has been slumping for the past two months and recently manager Clint Hurdle has decided to play Travis Snider over him in right field.

And now the Pirates have demoted Polanco back to Triple-A, where hit .347 in 62 games prior to being called up.

From a performance standpoint it’s tough to argue with the demotion, as Polanco has hit just .204 with three homers and a .564 OPS in his last 40 games. And if he wasn’t going to play regularly in the majors he might as well play regularly in the minors, but with the minor-league season winding down and September 1 roster expansion right around the corner it seems likely that Polanco will be back in Pittsburgh within a week or two anyway.

Justin Verlander named ALCS MVP

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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.