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Trevor Bauer twirls gem, Indians beat Yankees 4-0 to take 1-0 lead in ALDS

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Indians manager Terry Francona’s decision to start Trevor Bauer in Game 1 of the ALDS against the Yankees instead of American League Cy Young Award candidate Corey Kluber was controversial, to say the least. Bauer doesn’t quite have Kluber’s credentials, and the team’s best starter typically starts Game 1 of a playoff series barring certain circumstances like that team having just played a Wild Card game.

Francona was also second-guessed last postseason when he dared to use his relievers unconventionally. Andrew Miller, who had typically pitched one inning per appearance either in the seventh or eighth, was used in multiple-inning stints as early as the fifth inning. It caught on, as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and Cubs manager Joe Maddon used Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, respectively, in unorthodox ways later that postseason.

Francona was proven correct again on Thursday as Bauer twirled 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Yankees. He brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning, but it was ended when Aaron Hicks doubled to left field with one out. He gave up only two hits in total along with a walk while striking out eight on 98 pitches. Francona lifted him with two outs in the seventh after allowing a two-out single to Starlin Castro. Miller came in and struck out Greg Bird to end the frame.

Jay Bruce provided the bulk of the offense, though the scoring opened with Roberto Perez grounding into a run-scoring double play in the bottom of the second. Bruce lifted a two-run home run to right field off of Sonny Gray in the fourth inning and added a sacrifice fly in the fifth against Jaime Garcia to boost the Indians’ lead to 4-0. The run was charged to Gray; Garcia ended up pitching 2 2/3 innings without allowing a hit.

Miller continued on in the eighth, striking out two and walking two before giving way to closer Cody Allen. Allen struck out Judge to end the frame. In the ninth, the right-hander set down Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius, then worked around a two-out Starlin Castro single by striking out Bird to nail down the 4-0 victory.

The ALDS continues on Friday at 5:00 PM ET. The Indians will put their 1-0 series lead in the hands of Kluber, who will oppose the Yankees’ CC Sabathia.

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).