Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Max Scherzer flirted with a perfect game and ultimately settled for a no-hitter the last time he faced the Pirates on June 20. It was a different story for the Nationals ace this time around. The Pirates scored five runs off Scherzer last night as part of a 7-5 victory at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates hit three home runs off Scherzer. The first sailed into the Allegheny River off the bat of Pedro Alvarez. The second was a game-tying blast from Gregory Polanco in the fifth inning which capped an impressive 12-pitch at-bat. The third one was from Neil Walker and gave the Pirates the lead.

That lead was short-lived, as Ian Desmond tied things up in the top of the sixth with a home run of his own. However, the Pirates battled right back with a go-ahead RBI double from Brent Morel and an RBI single from Polanco. Jared Hughes, Tony Watson, and Mark Melancon followed with three scoreless innings of relief to finish off the victory.

The Pirates are six games back of the Cardinals in the National League Central, but are still sitting pretty for a Wild Card spot. The Nationals are just 3-5 since the All-Star break, but the Mets are also slumping, so they still have a three-game lead in the NL East.

Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:

Phillies 5, Cubs 3 (10 innings)

Tigers 1, Red Sox 2 (11 innings)

White Sox 6, Indians 0

Nationals 5, Pirates 7

Orioles 1, Rays 3

Dodgers 7, Mets 2

Astros 4, Royals 0

Braves 2, Cardinals 4

Yankees 1, Twins 10

Reds 5, Rockies 6

Rangers 4, Angels 2

Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 1

Blue Jays 2, Mariners 5

Marlins 1, Padres 3

Athletics 3, Giants 9

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.