Masahiro Tanaka dazzles, Yankees blank Astros 5-0 to pull within one win of reaching World Series

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Masahiro Tanaka once again pitched a gem, leading the Yankees past the Astros 5-0 in Game 5 of the ALCS on Wednesday evening. The Yankees now hold a 3-2 series lead and have a chance to clinch a World Series berth on Friday.

The Astros had a few opportunities to score, but Tanaka executed when he needed to most. The right-hander held the Astros hitless in six at-bats with runners in scoring position. The Astros are now 2-for-19 (.105) with RISP since the start of Game 3 and 5-for-25 (.200) overall in the ALCS.

The Yankees opened the scoring in the second inning as Greg Bird knocked in Starlin Castro with a single. Aaron Judge added another run in the third inning with an RBI double. In the fifth, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius each hit RBI singles to up the score to 4-0. Gary Sanchez tacked on a solo home run in the seventh. That proved to be more than enough run support for Tanaka.

Tanaka exited after seven innings, giving up just three hits and a walk with three strikeouts on 103 pitches. That matches his ALDS Game 3 start against the Indians in which he also tossed seven shutout innings.

Tommy Kahnle took over in the eighth, working an easy nine-pitch 1-2-3 inning. He returned to the mound in the ninth, working around a one-out double from Carlos Correa. He induced a ground out from Yuli Gurriel, then got Alex Bregman to line out to center field to end the game in a 5-0 victory for the Yankees.

Game 6 of the ALCS will start at 8 PM ET on Friday in Houston at Minute Maid Park. The Astros will attempt to stave off elimination by sending Justin Verlander to the mound. The Yankees will counter with Luis Severino. They will be attempting to return to the World Series for the first time since 2009, when they beat the Phillies in six games.

Brett Cecil placed on 10-day injured list due to Carpal Tunnel syndrome

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On Monday, Cardinals reliever Brett Cecil was placed on the 10-day injured list due to Carpal Tunnel syndrome. Cecil, who notably lost 42 pounds since the end of the 2018 season, was having trouble with his mechanics throughout spring training and only logged two official Grapefruit League innings.

Cecil, 32, is entering the third year of his four-year, $30.5 million contract. He struggled last year, finishing with a 6.89 ERA and a 19/25 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. The lefty dealt with shoulder and foot injuries during the season as well.

The Cardinals bolstered the bullpen in December, signing lefty Andrew Miller to a two-year, $25 million deal. It would be nice to have a healthy and effective Cecil, but the high-leverage workload will be managed by Miller and Jordan Hicks as well as Alex Reyes.

Cecil was among a handful of Cardinals to hit the injured list on Monday, joining Carlos Martínez (right shoulder cuff strain), Jedd Gyorko (right calf strain), Luke Gregerson (right shoulder impingement), and Justin Williams (right hand second metacarpal fracture).