Jose Bautista and Troy Tulowitzki named captains for next month’s Home Run Derby

14 Comments

It’s that time again. Yes, the Home Run Derby is back for another year and today the captains for the National League and the American League were announced.

Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will lead the National League squad while Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista will head up the American League group. Appropriately enough, both players are the current leading vote-getters in their respective leagues.

The rest of the competitors have yet to be announced, but four more players will be added for each league in the days to come. Tulowitzki and Bautista will now do some recruiting of their peers, though fans can make some suggestions via this poll on MLB.com. Athetics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won last year’s competition. One would think he’d be invited back to defend his crown.

The 2014 Home Run Derby will take place on Monday, July 14 from Target Field, the home of the Twins. The 85th MLB All-Star Game will be played the following evening.

UPDATE: This year’s derby will be a little different, as each player will get seven outs per round and the competition will be bracketed after the first round. Check out details here.

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

Astros
AP Images
20 Comments

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.