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Keuchel, Carter carry Astros to 2-1 AL Division Series lead

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Dallas Keuchel tossed seven innings of one-run ball and Chris Carter provided three hits, powering the Astros to a 4-2 victory over the Royals in Game 3 of the ALDS on Sunday evening. The Astros now hold a 2-1 series lead.

The Astros fell behind 1-0 when Keuchel served up a solo home run to Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning. Carter, however, kickstarted a one-out rally in the fifth against Royals starter Edinson Volquez when he hit a one-out double to left field after Luis Valbuena had drawn a walk. Jason Castro brought both of them home with a ground ball single up the middle, putting the Astros up 2-1.

A two-out RBI single by Carlos Gomez in the sixth pushed the score to 3-1, and Carter provided additional insurance when he slugged a towering solo home run to left field off of Danny Duffy in the seventh. Carter finished 3-for-3, marking the only time this season he’s had three hits in a game.

The Royals had a few opportunities to score, but Keuchel managed to pitch out of trouble repeatedly. He finished having allowed the one run on five hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. Volquez was on the hook for three runs on five hits and four walks with eight strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings.

Reliever Tony Sipp walked a batter before leaving with two outs in the eighth inning. Closer Luke Gregerson was able to notch the final out of the eighth with a ground ball. In the ninth, Alex Gordon led off with a solo home run to left-center, but Gregerson was able to see his way out of the ninth inning without any further damage for the save.

The Astros will attempt to clinch the ALDS at home on Monday at 1:00 PM EDT. Yordano Ventura will start for the Royals against Astros rookie right-hander Lance McCullers.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.