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Tim Lincecum accepts his assignment to Triple-A

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The Angels designated Tim Lincecum for assignment over the weekend. It was earned, as he allowed six runs in the first inning against the Mariners in his last start. He was 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA in nine starts with Los Angeles, and even a team going nowhere like the Angels are can’t afford to run that out there every few days.

Lincecum had the option of refusing an assignment to the minor leagues. If he did, he would’ve become a free agent and could’ve tried to latch on someplace else. He decided this afternoon, however, that he’s better off heading back to Salt Lake City and has accepted the Angels assignment to Triple-A.

Cosmically this may be a good thing for him as it seems pretty clear that he can’t get big leaguers out. When last he pitched for Salt Lake, back in early June, he flirted with a no-hitter and looked pretty sharp. Maybe he’ll be able to figure things out there again, maybe he won’t, but he obviously needs to work some more.

Which means this was probably the right move tactically, too. At this point it seems highly unlikely another team would take a chance on him this season. A contender doesn’t want an ineffective pitcher and a losing team is only a couple of weeks away from opening up its roster and allowing younger, team-controlled players to eat up the innings and make their auditions. If Lincecum wants to land a spring training invitation from someone next season, he’ll have to have something positive going for him heading into the winter. Three or four starts at Salt Lake could be enough to convince someone to take a chance. And heck, maybe he winds up back in Anaheim after September 1.

Tim Lincecum’s fall from multi-year Cy Young Award winner to organizational depth has been a long one. But it’s still one that is hard to get one’s mind around.

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.