Hanley Ramirez on manager Edwin Rodriguez: “I’ve got his back till the death, man”

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Edwin Rodriguez is starting to feel some heat with the Marlins tied for last place in the NL East at 32-36 after losing 13 of 14 games to begin June, but today Hanley Ramirez made it very clear that he’s in the manager’s corner.

Ramirez, who just returned from a stint on the disabled list and has hit just .206 while battling back problems, told Joe Frisaro of MLB.com that Rodriguez “is a pretty good guy and a pretty good manager … he’s smart.”

Here’s a little more from Ramirez, who’s expected to sit out day games following night games for the next two weeks:

I’m on his side. I’ve got his back, till the death, man. Everything he is doing is good for the team. I’m never complaining about anything he does. When the team wins, everybody wants to give credit to the players. When we don’t, everybody wants [to blame] the manager. That’s not the way it is.

I’m on his side. Whatever he wants to do, I’m all for. He’s the best guy we ever had here. He lets you play. We’re going through things where everything is going bad right now. But he’s there for you.

Ramirez is right, of course. His being hurt and ineffective along with Josh Johnson being on the disabled list for the past month has cost the Marlins more runs and more wins than anything tactical Rodriguez could possibly do.

On the other hand, that doesn’t necessarily mean Rodriguez has done a good job and, even if he has, the Marlins fired Joe Girardi after he won Manager of the Year, canned Fredi Gonzalez following back-to-back winning seasons, and have never stuck with a manager for more than four seasons in their entire history.

Last week they fired hitting coach John Mallee and this afternoon Rodriguez held a team meeting before facing the Phillies, so the seat is definitely warming up.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.