Pirates, Angels swap closers Jason Grilli, Ernesto Frieri

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The Pirates and Angels have swapped struggling closers, as Jason Grilli will head to the Angels and Ernesto Frieri will join the Pirates, MLB.com’s Tom Singer reports.

Frieri, 28, enjoyed some success for the Angels in his new role as the closer last season, but faced unending difficulty this year. The right-hander is 0-3 with 11 saves in 14 chances and a 6.39 ERA. He struck out 38, walked nine, and allowed eight home runs in 31 innings.

Grilli, 37, lost his role as the Pirates’ closer to Mark Melancon when he went on the disabled list with a strained left oblique on April 21. He returned on May 23, and manager Clint Hurdle put him back in the closer’s role on May 30, but the results weren’t much better. Overall, Grilli was 0-2 with 11 saves in 15 chances and a 4.87 ERA. He struck out 21, walked 11, and allowed four home runs in 20 1/3 innings.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia isn’t immediately slotting Grilli in to the closer’s role, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. It’s not yet known how this trade will affect current Pirates closer Melancon. Melancon has performed well in the role for the Pirates thus far.

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.