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Justin Verlander dominates in wild 2-1 finish over Yankees, Astros take 2-0 lead in ALCS


Lights-out pitching took center stage again on Saturday as the Astros skated by on a 2-1 finish over the Yankees to take a 2-0 lead in the Championship Series. Luis Severino dealt four innings of one-run, zero-strikeout ball before making a premature exit on a comebacker to his left wrist, while Justin Verlander capped his first postseason complete game and 10th win with five hits, a run and 13 strikeouts.

The bats were mostly quiet through the first three innings. Jose Altuve hit a first-pitch single in the first inning, followed by a walk from Carlos Correa, but Severino squashed the Astros’ RISP with an inning-ending groundout. Starlin Castro eked out a single in the second inning, but was also left stranded, and no real threat surfaced until Brett Gardner tried to stretch a two-out double into a triple and was thrown out at third base in the third.

Things picked up around the fourth inning, when Correa drove a 1-2 fastball to right field for a solo home run. The ball barely cleared the top of the fence as a young Astros’ fan extended his mitt into fair territory to catch the ball, but replay review confirmed the home run to give the Astros a 1-0 lead. Severino hung on for the remaining two outs, retiring Marwin Gonzalez on a pop-up and inducing a ground out from Yuli Gurriel, but was struck on the wrist by Gurriel’s comebacker and made a hasty exit prior to the fifth.

Verlander, meanwhile, ran into a spot of trouble in the fifth inning. Aaron Hicks lined a two-out double into center field and Todd Frazier lofted an 0-1 pitch to left field in the next at-bat, where it got stuck in the chain-link fence for a ground-rule double. George Springer couldn’t throw his glove high enough to dislodge the ball — not that it would have helped — and the ruling tied things up for the Yankees as Aaron Hicks came home to score.

That was the last little bit of luck the Yankees got. While the Astros flailed against the Yankees’ bullpen, Verlander was on cruise control. He kicked off the sixth inning with back-to-back strikeouts to Brett Gardner and Aaron Judge and stranded Greg Bird in the seventh with two more strikeouts to Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro. In the eighth, he struck out the side on 12 pitches, then returned for a scoreless ninth inning to make a bit of postseason history:

The fun didn’t end there, though. In the bottom of the ninth, Aroldis Chapman fanned Josh Reddick on four pitches, then watched Altuve return a 100-mph fastball to left field for a base hit. Correa worked the longest at-bat of the inning, lasting six pitches as Chapman made three pickoff attempts with Altuve hovering between first and second base. He prevailed in the end, however, lining a double into right field as Altuve made a madcap dash from first to home, sliding in for the walk-off run as Sanchez bobbled the ball in front of the plate. Words don’t do justice to this kind of ending:

Game 3 of the ALCS is set for 8:00 PM ET on Monday, when the series returns to New York for Games 3 and 4. Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) will help the Astros hunt for a 3-0 lead as CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA) prepares to fight for his first postseason win since 2012.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 10, Marlins 9: The Braves rallied for six runs, all with two outs, in the bottom of the ninth to walk off winners on getaway day against the Marlins. The Marlins took a 6-0 lead in the fourth inning after Lewis Brinson cracked a grand slam down the left field line. Miguel Rojas hit a two-run homer in the seventh to bring the Marlins’ lead back to six runs at 8-2. The Braves entered the bottom of the ninth trailing 9-4, but Marlins relievers Brad Ziegler and Tayron Guerrero both melted down. Here’s what happened. It’s the Braves’ largest ninth-inning comeback in exactly eight years, when this happened:

Red Sox 5, Orioles 0: J.D. Martinez homered twice, tying teammate Mookie Betts for the major league lead in home runs with 15. Andrew Benintendi also homered and picked up three hits. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out seven. The Orioles had their opportunities, racking up 13 hits, but went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and only one of their 13 hits went for extra bases. The Orioles’ 13 hits were the most compiled by a team that was shut out since August 25, 2008 when the Dodgers racked up 13 while being shut out by the Phillies. It’s only the 22nd time it’s happened dating back to 1908, according to Baseball Reference.

Athletics 9, Blue Jays 2: Daniel Mengden was magnificent for the A’s, tossing seven scoreless frames on two hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Marcus Semien hit a two-run home run and Matt Chapman picked up three hits. The Jays committed four errors on what was a very forgettable afternoon.

Cubs 6, Reds 1: Things haven’t been going well this year for Yu Darvish, but they did go well at least on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander held the Reds to a lone run on two hits and three walks with seven punch-outs across six innings, lowering his ERA on the season to 4.95. Kyle Schwarber and Javier Baez hit back-to-back homers in the second inning off of Tyler Mahle. Joey Votto was the only Red to have more than one hit.

Mets 4, Diamondbacks 1: Clay Buchholz made his first start in over a year and it went well. He held the Mets to one run, which came on Amed Rosario‘s solo home run in the top of the sixth, ultimately the hit that knocked Buchholz out of the game. Rosario added another homer in the seventh, when the Mets scored three runs to take a lead they’d never relinquish. Noah Syndergaard fanned seven in seven innings, giving up one run on six hits and a walk. D-Backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt remains mired in a season-long slump. He went 1-for-4 with a single and now owns an uncharacteristic .690 OPS.

Padres 8, Pirates 5: The Padres rallied for four runs in the top of the ninth, turning a 5-4 deficit into an 8-5 lead. They rapped out five singles and benefited from an error as well. Christian Villanueva hit his 12th homer of the season, a two-run blast in the fourth inning. Austin Meadows knocked his first major league homer.

Dodgers 7, Nationals 2: This was mostly a clinic on power, as the Dodgers hit three homers, one each from Yasmani Grandal, Enrique Hernandez, and Yasiel Puig. Trea Turner hit one for the Nationals. Alex Wood pitched well, holding the Nationals to two runs on three hits and a walk with four strikeouts, but left the game after apparently injuring himself warming prior to the bottom of the seventh inning. Stephen Strasburg gave up three runs on five hits and four walks with seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

White Sox 3, Rangers 0: This one was all Reynaldo Lopez. The 24-year-old fired eight shutout frames, yielding only two hits and two walks while striking out eight. In doing so, he lowered his ERA to 2.98. The three runs came on a solo homer from Welington Castillo in the second and a two-run Leury Garcia single in the third.

Yankees 10, Royals 1: Tyler Austin blasted a pair of homers, giving him eight on the season. Miguel Andujar and Austin Romine also homered for the Yankees in what was a drubbing of the lowly Royals. Sonny Gray went eight innings, giving up a lone run on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts. The Yankees now have a major league-best 30-13 record while the Royals drop to 14-32. Only the White Sox (.302) have a worse winning percentage than the Royals (.304).

Cardinals 5, Phillies 1: Jack Flaherty was phenomenal for the Cardinals, striking out 13 batters while limiting the Phillies to a run on two hits and a walk over 7 2/3 innings. 21-year-old Freddy Peralta also struck out 13 earlier this season. Before Flaherty and Peralta, the last pitcher younger than 23 years old to strike out 13 in a game was Noah Syndergaard nearly three years ago against the Diamondbacks. Aaron Nola, who has been ace-like all year for the Phillies, didn’t have his best stuff on Sunday, surrendering four runs over six innings to the Cardinals. Rhys Hoskins homered but Odubel Herrera‘s on-base streak finally ended at 45 consecutive games. It’s tied for the fourth-longest in Phillies history.

Twins 3, Brewers 1: Logan Morrison knocked in two runs with a single to right field in the bottom of the eighth, breaking a 1-1 tie. That proved to be the game-winning hit as Fernando Rodney came in and struck out the side in the top of the ninth to seal the deal.

Giants 9, Rockies 5: The Giants scored nine runs for a second consecutive day. Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Belt, and Nick Hundley each homered, accounting for six of the nine runs. Nice. The Rockies got three hits each from Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story but it wasn’t enough. Starters Ty Blach and Tyler Anderson both had forgettable days on the mound, giving up five and four runs in 5 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings, respectively.

Angels 5, Rays 2: Shohei Ohtani continued to pitch well, holding the Rays to a pair of runs on six hits and a walk with nine strikeouts. With seven major league starts under his belt, he’s sporting a 3.35 ERA. He’s also batting .321/.367/.619. Sergio Romo started for the Rays for a second day in a row. He pitched an inning yesterday before giving way to Ryan Yarbrough. This time, he got four outs before Matt Andriese relieved him. Martin Maldonado homered for the Angels; Johnny Field went yard for the Rays. Matt Duffy collected three hits as well.

Tigers, Mariners (11 innings): Mitch Haniger hit a game-tying two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game into extras. Jean Segura broke the 2-2 tie in the bottom of the 11th with an RBI single. Tigers starter Francisco Liriano brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning but lost it when Haniger singled to center. Liriano ended up giving up the one hit and walking three while striking out five on 102 pitches over eight scoreless innings.

Astros 3, Indians 1: Lance McCullers had his best stuff working, bringing a bid for a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He ended up going seven frames, giving up just a hit and two walks with eight strikeouts. Brian McCann broke a scoreless tie in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run home run off of Carlos Carrasco.