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Dallas Keuchel shines as Astros beat Yankees 2-1 to take ALCS Game 1

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Everything the Yankees did well, the Astros did better, edging past their league rivals 2-1 on Friday to take a 1-0 lead in the ALCS. Masahiro Tanaka shone through six quality innings, but Dallas Keuchel positively sparkled, fending off the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of four-hit, 10-strikeout ball for his second postseason win.

Through the first two innings, however, neither starter relinquished more than a single walk. Keuchel cracked on a third-inning single by Brett Gardner, and Tanaka lost his no-hit bid when Jose Altuve collected his first base of the game on an infield hit. That proved to be a crucial mistake, as Altuve promptly snagged second base and came home to score on Carlos Correa‘s RBI single. Two at-bats later, Yuli Gurriel followed that with another RBI single to cap the rally.

Keuchel struggled to maintain control in the fifth inning. Greg Bird roped a leadoff single, followed by a throwing error that planted Matt Holliday at first base. With two outs and runners on first and second, Aaron Judge lined a single into left field that should have scored Bird, but Marwin Gonzalez fired a 97.4-mph throw to catch him at the plate. The Yankees challenged the tag, naturally, and had they been successful, would have been able to push for extras later on.

Tanaka, on the other hand, recovered from his fourth-inning hiccups and retired five consecutive batters before Altuve returned to pester him in the sixth. A base hit and wild pitch later and Altuve was standing on second base again, though neither Correa nor Marwin Gonzalez found themselves able to solve Tanaka to extend the Astros’ two-run advantage. They were no more successful against Chad Green, who pitched a scoreless seventh and eighth with two hits and two strikeouts.

The eighth is exactly where things got interesting for the Yankees. Chris Devenski replaced Keuchel and lasted for just two at-bats after retiring Todd Frazier and walking Brett Gardner on six pitches. Ken Giles promptly came in and repeated the same sequence, inducing a groundout from Judge before walking Gary Sanchez on five pitches, though he was able to recover with an inning-ending strikeout to Didi Gregorius. He returned in the ninth to strike out the side, but not before Greg Bird gave 43,116 Astros fans a mild heart attack:

The Astros still have one game left in Houston before the series moves to New York for Game 3 on Monday. Justin Verlander (15-8, 3.35 ERA) will go up against Luis Severino (14-6, 2.98 ERA) on Saturday for Game 2 at 4:00 PM ET.

Congressional task force passes resolution opposing MLB’s minor league contraction plan

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We’ve talked at length about Major League Baseball’s plan to eliminate 42 minor league clubs. We also recently talked about Congress getting involved. Today that process started. It started with a non-binding, symbolic move.

That move: several members of Congress, calling themselves the “Save Minor League Baseball Task Force,” introduced a resolution saying that Major League Baseball should drop its plan to eliminate the minor league clubs and, rather, maintain the current minor league structure. The resolution reads as follows:

RESOLUTION

Supporting Minor League Baseball, and for other purposes.

Whereas 40 million plus fans have attended Minor League Baseball games each season for 15 consecutive years;

Whereas Minor League Baseball provides wholesome affordable entertainment in 160 communities throughout the country;

Whereas, in 2018, Minor League Baseball clubs donated over $45 million in cash and in-kind gifts to their local communities and completed over 15,000 volunteer hours;

Whereas the economic stimulus and development provided by Minor League Baseball clubs extends beyond the cities and towns where it is played, to wide and diverse geographic
areas comprising 80 percent of the population in the Nation;

Whereas Minor League Baseball is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion through its Copa de la Diversio´n, MiLB Pride, FIELD Program, and Women in Baseball Leadership initiatives;

Whereas Minor League Baseball is the first touchpoint of the national pastime for millions of youth and the only touchpoint for those located in communities far from Major League cities;

Whereas Congress has enacted numerous statutory exemptions and immunities to preserve and sustain a system for Minor League Baseball and its relationship with Major League Baseball;

Whereas abandonment of 42 Minor League Baseball clubs by Major League Baseball would devastate communities, bond purchasers, and other stakeholders that rely on the economic stimulus these clubs provide;

Whereas Minor League Baseball clubs enrich the lives of millions of Americans each year through special economic, social, cultural, and charitable contributions; and

Whereas preservation of Minor League Baseball in 160 communities is in the public interest, as it will continue to provide affordable, family friendly entertainment to those communities:

Now, therefore, be it Resolved,

That the House of Representatives—
(1) supports the preservation of Minor League Baseball in 160 American communities;
(2) recognizes the unique social, economic, and historic contributions that Minor League Baseball has made to American life and culture; and
(3) encourages continuation of the 117-year foundation of the Minor Leagues in 160 communities through continued affiliations with Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball issued a statement in response:

MLB is confident we can modernize or minor league system, improve playing conditions for our players, and protect baseball in communities across America. However, doing so is best achieved with Minor League Baseball’s constructive participation, and a recognition that they need to be a part of the solution. So far their approach has neither been constructive nor solutions-oriented. The most constructive role Congress can play to achieve these goals is to encourage Minor League Baseball to return to the bargaining table so we can work together to address the real issues impacting minor league players and communities all across the country.

So that’s fun.

It’s worth noting, again, that this move by Congress does nothing substantively and, rather, exists primarily to allow Members of Congress to talk about baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and America in that way that politicians like to do. Almost any act they take is opposed by half the populace, so they will always jump at an opportunity to say things that most people agree with like “taking away our sports teams is bad. If Congress wants to do something substantive here it can hold hearings and take tangible steps toward eliminating baseball’s antitrust exemption, which is basically the only real hammer it has in influencing the league. I suspect it won’t go that far and will, instead, continue to just issue statements like this.

For its part, Major League Baseball’s statement should be read as “we want to kill these guys over here, the guys we want to kill are being REAL JERKS about it and won’t help us in killing them. Congress, please shut up about not wanting them to die and, instead, tell them that they should let us kill them, OK?”

The upshot: wake me up when something actually happens beyond this posturing.