Reds hope to get Joey Votto back for the “stretch run”

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After missing a month earlier this season with a distal left quadriceps strain, Reds first baseman Joey Votto returned to the disabled list earlier this week with a recurrence of the very same injury. According to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Reds team medical director Tim Kremchek said this afternoon that while Votto’s return isn’t exactly imminent, the hope is that platelet-rich plasma injections will allow him to come back healthier than before and contribute during the second half.

When asked for context for what Kremchek meant by “stretch run,” Fay writes that the Reds are hoping to have Votto back for the final five or six weeks of the regular season. In other words, he’s likely to miss at least another month.

Brandon Phillips had thumb surgery yesterday and is expected to miss around 4-6 weeks, so the Reds should be in the market for infield depth before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. Ramon Santiago is the top internal option to fill in at second base now that Skip Schumaker is on the 7-day concussion disabled list. Meanwhile, Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce, Brayan Pena, and the newly-recalled Neftali Soto figure to split playing time at first base.

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.