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Greg Bird’s homer the difference as Yankees defeat Indians 1-0 in ALDS Game 3

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Yankees first baseman Greg Bird proved to be the deciding factor in Sunday evening’s 1-0 victory over the Indians in Game 3 of the ALDS. The Yankees, as a result, stave off elimination and force a Game 4.

Indians starter Carlos Carrasco and Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka traded zeroes in a rare — for this postseason, anyway — pitchers’ duel. Carrasco went 5 2/3 innings, scattering three hits and three walks while striking out seven. He exited after loading the bases with two outs in the fifth inning, but Andrew Miller bailed him out of that jam.

Tanaka, meanwhile, limited the Tribe to three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in seven innings. His one bout with adversity came in the sixth when Francisco Lindor appeared to have hit a two-run home run, but right fielder Aaron Judge made a small leap to bring it back from over the fence at Yankee Stadium. Tanaka was very thankful, as you might imagine.

Bird gave Tanaka the lead in the bottom half of the seventh, slugging a solo home run to right field on a 1-1, 95 MPH fastball. Miller yielded just one home run during the regular season to lefties in 71 plate appearances.

David Robertson took over in the eighth, issuing a one-out walk to Michael Brantley. That brought manager Joe Girardi out to the mound to bring in Aroldis Chapman for a five-out save. Chapman, as expected, fanned Yan Gomes and Giovanny Urshela. In the ninth, Chapman struck out Lindor, then worked around consecutive one-out singles by striking out Jay Bruce and getting Carlos Santana to fly out to left field.

In total, the Indians were held by Tanaka, Robertson, and Chapman to zero runs on five hits. Across 162 regular season games this year, that happened only four times to the Tribe offense.

The ALDS continues on Monday with Game 4 at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will send out Luis Severino. The Indians haven’t announced their starter yet.

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).