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Conor Gillaspie’s three-run homer in the ninth inning sends Giants to the NLDS


Even year — ahem — magic is alive and well as Giants third baseman Conor Gillaspie‘s three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning off of Mets closer Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and helped send his team to the NLDS against the Cubs.

Starters Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard traded zeroes for seven innings as the pitcher’s duel unfolded exactly as expected. Syndergaard brought a no-hitter nearly through the sixth inning, but Denard Span broke it up with a well-struck single to center field. It was one of only two hits Syndergaard would allow on the evening along with three walks and 10 strikeouts on 108 pitches over seven innings. Addison Reed worked a scoreless eighth before giving way to Familia in the ninth.

Bumgarner, meanwhile, skated through the first three innings on a total of 21 pitches. While the Mets would become more selective at the dish, it didn’t amount to much. Through eight innings, Bumgarner limited them to four hits and a pair of walks with six strikeouts on 106 pitches.

In the top of the ninth against Familia, Brandon Crawford led off with a double to left-center. Joe Panik walked to bring Gillaspie to the plate. Gillaspie took a 96 MPH sinker for a strike and a 96 MPH sinker for a ball, then blasted a 96 MPH sinker to right-center, clearing the fence by plenty to give the Giants a 3-0 lead.

There was no chance Bumgarner was coming out once the Giants took the lead in the ninth, unless manager Bruce Bochy wanted to get punched to the moon. Bumgarner got Yoenis Cespedes to fly out to right field, Curtis Granderson to fly out to left field, and T.J. Rivera to fly out to right-center to end the game.

Bumgarner’s postseason brilliance continues. He now has a 1.94 ERA with an 83/17 K/BB ratio in 97 1/3 career postseason innings.

If there was one person without a particular allegiance to the Giants happy about Gillaspie’s home run, it’s probably Orioles manager Buck Showalter. Showalter was criticized heavily for refusing to bring closer Zach Britton into Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game, a game which the Orioles lost on a walk-off three-run home run by Edwin Encarnacion. Well, Mets manager Terry Collins used his closer and he ended losing on a walk-off three-run homer anyway.

The Giants will head to Wrigley Field to face the Cubs in the NLDS which begins on Friday at 9:00 PM EDT.

Astros extend winning streak to 11 games

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The Astros rallied late to keep their winning streak alive, extending it to 11 games with a 7-4 victory over the Royals on Sunday afternoon. The club is now 48-25, leading the Mariners by a full game in the AL West.

The Royals took a 4-2 lead after three innings, but Brian McCann knocked in a run with a single in the top of the fourth to cut the deficit to one run. Carlos Correa hit a game-tying solo home run in the eighth. The Astros kept their foot on the gas, scoring two more runs on RBI singles from Evan Gattis and Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the eighth and another in the top of the ninth on Correa’s sacrifice fly.

Starter Lance McCullers allowed four runs (two earned) on six hits and two walks with nine strikeouts over six innings. Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh. Ken Giles did the same in the eighth. Hector Rondon finished off the win in the ninth, working around a one-out walk with a game-ending double play.

After winning all 10 games on their road trip against the Rangers, Athletics, and Royals, the Astros will head home for a nine-game homestand against the Rays, Royals, and Blue Jays. Each club is below .500.