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Yankees chase Charlie Morton in the fourth inning of ALCS Game 3, but he actually pitched decently

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Astros starter Charlie Morton was taken out with two outs in the fourth inning of Game 3 of the ALCS on Monday night. Morton surrendered three runs in the second and was on the hook for another four in the fourth, but he actually threw a decent game.

Morton got the first two outs in the second in short order, but Starlin Castro kept the inning alive with a very weakly hit single down the third base line. The exit velocity on that one, according to Statcast, was 57 MPH. Aaron Hicks then blooped a 2-2 splitter into shallow left-center field. Exit velocity: 74 MPH. After working a 1-1 count against Todd Frazier, Morton threw a fastball low and away, but Frazier was somehow able to muster enough strength to push it over the fence in right-center for a three-run homer.

In the fourth, Greg Bird led off the inning with a ground-rule double to left field on a ball that left the bat at 78 MPH. Unfortunately for Morton, Cameron Maybin just horribly misplayed the ball and because he didn’t touch it, he didn’t get charged with an error.

Morton rebounded by getting a couple of outs. He didn’t appear to be pitching around Frazier, but walked him on five pitches. Morton then got Chase Headley to hit a ground ball (88.4 MPH), but second baseman Jose Altuve was shaded a bit too far to the right. Though he was able to corral it in the shallow outfield, he had no play, and the Yankees got their fourth run of the game. Morton hit Gardner, the next batter, with a 0-1 curve, loading the bases. That was the final straw for manager A.J. Hinch, who brought in Will Harris to relieve Morton. Facing Aaron Judge, Harris uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Frazier to score to make it 5-0. After working the count to 2-2, Judge ripped an up-and-in fastball that just barely got over the wall in left field for a three-run homer to up the score to 8-0.

Morton’s final line: 3 2/3 innings, seven runs (all earned), six hits (the one not listed here was a bunt single in the first), two walks, one hit batsman, three strikeouts. Here are the hit probabilities of five of those hits (excluding the bunt), according to Baseball Savant:

  • Castro single: 10 percent
  • Hicks single: 70 percent
  • Frazier homer: 55 percent
  • Bird double: 4 percent
  • Headley single: 12 percent

Unfortunately for Morton, he was a victim of bad luck, bad timing, and bad relief. He pitched much, much better than the box score indicates.

The Astros, meanwhile, hit into some bad luck. Yuli Gurriel crushed a fastball to right field in the second inning off of CC Sabathia, but Judge made a fantastic leaping catch that caused him to crash into the wall and tumble backwards. That had a hit probability of 59 percent and was “barreled,” according to Baseball Savant. Maybin “barreled” a ball in the fifth that Judge dove in on and caught. That would be a hit 77 percent of the time.

This isn’t to make excuses for the Astros. The Yankees have outplayed them this game. But contrary to the score, the Yankees haven’t been blowing the Astros out of the water. This is the kind of game the Astros shouldn’t read to much into looking ahead the rest of the series.

Attempting to complete cycle, Robinson Chirinos thrown out to end game

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With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe JimĂ©nez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.

Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.

The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.

Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny RodrĂ­guez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.