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Mike Trout has 200 home runs already

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Mike Trout is in a class of his own. He’s racked up 54.7 Wins Above Replacement in his first seven major league seasons and collected two MVP honors after leading the league in runs scored in 2014 and 2016. He can reliably be counted on to deliver 20-30 home runs every year and has been decorated with six consecutive All-Star nominations. It goes without saying that his resume is extensive, and a 46-day stint on the disabled list hardly seems to have slowed him down at all. On Friday, he blew past another milestone with his 200th career home run.

Trout lost little time getting the Angels on the board. He took a 2-1 changeup from Marco Gonzalez and deposited it in center field to give the team a 1-0 lead in the first:

It’s the 32nd dinger of Trout’s season and the 200th since his big league debut in 2011. Not only did he become the third Angels player to reach 200 career home runs with the club, but he’s the fourth American League slugger to do so by his age-26 season. The other three to replicate the feat? Oh, just Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx and Alex Rodriguez.

Trout’s home run holds up against the greats, but it didn’t hold off the Mariners for long. Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager went back-to-back with solo homers in the fourth, and Robinson Cano and Mike Zunino tacked on another three insurance runs with an RBI single and two-RBI homer, respectively. The Angels currently trail the Mariners 5-2 in the top of the seventh inning.

In the meantime, you can gawk at Trout’s pretty, pretty home run spray chart here:

The Astros gave the Yankees an opening. Keuchel and Verlander will try to close the door.

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If Game 4 of the ALCS had been even remotely conventional, it’d stand at 3-1 in favor of Houston right now. The Yankees’ starter pitched well but got no run support. A mighty Astros team with an ordinarily good closer in Ken Giles had a 4-0 lead in the late innings. As the Yankees set out to mount a comeback, a base runner fell down in between first and second and should’ve been dead to rights. This is playoff baseball, however, so stuff, as they say, happens. The runner was safe, the closer struggled, the Yankees rallied and now we’re tied 2-2.

But are we even at 2-2?

On paper, no, because the Astros now will send Dallas Keuchel and Justin Verlander out in Games 5 and 6, and that gives them a clear advantage. Keuchel dominated the Yankees in Game 1, tossing seven scoreless innings and striking out ten batters. Verlander struck out 13 batters in a 124-pitch complete game in which he allowed only a single run. Beyond the mere facts of the box scores, however, the Yankees have looked profoundly overmatched by both of the Astros’ aces, in this postseason and on other occasions on which they’ve faced off against them. Most notably in the 2015 wild-card game at Yankee Stadium when Keuchel pitched six scoreless innings in the 3-0 victory.

But remember: stuff happens.

Stuff like Aaron Judge‘s and Gary Sanchez‘s bats waking up. The two most important sluggers in the Bombers lineup combined to go 3-for-6 with two doubles, a homer, a walk and five RBI in last night’s victory. Each of them had been silent for the first three games of the series but if they’re heating up, the Yankees will be a lot harder to pitch to.

Stuff like Masahiro Tanaka showing that he can tame the Astros’ lineup. Which he did pretty well in Game 1, giving up only two runs on four hits in six innings. He was overshadowed by Keuchel in that game, but it was a good performance against a strong lineup in a hostile environment. Tanaka pitches much better at Yankee Stadium than he does on the road, so don’t for a second think that the Astros bats will have an easy time of it today.

Stuff like the Yankees bullpen still being the Yankees bullpen. Yes, the Astros got to David Robertson yesterday, but it’s still a strong, strong group that gives the Yankees a clear advantage if the game is close late or if they hold a lead.

All of which is to say that we have ourselves a series, friends. While, 48 hours ago, it seemed like we were on our way to an Astros coronation, the Yankees have shown up in a major way in Games 3 and 4. If you’re an Astros fan you should feel pretty confident with Keuchel and Verlander heading into action over the next two games, but we have learned that absolutely nothing is guaranteed in the postseason.