Bo Porter fired by the Astros

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A couple of days ago Ken Rosenthal reported that there was serious tension between Astros manager Bo Porter and general manager Jeff Luhnow. I guess “tension” was an understatement, because Bo Porter has been fired.

In addition to Porter, bench coach Dave Trembley has been fired as well. The Astros have named minor league manager and longtime coach and player Tom Lawless as the interim manager. There will be a press conference at 2pm Central time. In the meantime, Luhnow has released a statement, which reads in part:

“Bo’s passion and energy are unparalleled, and his desire to win unquestioned. This decision was not made because of our current level of competitiveness in the Major Leagues. I recognize that our win-loss record is largely a product of an organizational strategy for which I am responsible. Rather, I made this decision because I believe we need a new direction in our clubhouse.

The rest of the statement can be read in Evan Drellich’s story at the Houston Chronicle. In it Luhnow clearly implies that the firing was based on communication and disagreements with Porter and/or Porter’s alleged deficiencies in dealing with the team’s young talent. Of course, given that Porter and Luhnow have been reported to have huge disagreements about things, it’s quite possible Porter has another story.

Porter probably had no chance from the get-go. The Astros were a total tear-down job and they were, as Luhnow’s statement suggests, set up to lose. While Porter theoretically had a long leash as a result, it’s hard to think of any other situations in baseball history where the caretaker manager during a rebuild was around by the time the team was competitive. And the Astros’ rebuild has been a longer-than-usual process with some time still left before the team can reasonably be expected to win. Even if there weren’t tensions here, Porter would’ve probably been replaced eventually.

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).