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Diamondbacks set record for persistence

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Back when analytics were still a niche interest and not a focus of every front office in Major League Baseball, those who were resistant to the numbers would often disingenuously characterize stats as, for example, how a player hits on the third Tuesday of every month when the temperature is between 65 and 70 degrees and a right-hander is on the mound. Which, of course, is not what actual analytics measure.

Well, this stat is absurdly specific and not terribly useful like that, but it’s interesting nevertheless. Per STATS, the Diamondbacks have been within two games of an even record (.500) every day going back to June 19, a span of 57 consecutive games. That’s the longest such streak in MLB history. The 2007 Athletics previously held the record at 56 consecutive games. What it essentially means is that while the D-Backs haven’t been great, they have at least been consistent. They haven’t gone on any prolonged winning or losing streaks. Incidentally, June 19 was right in the middle of a six-game losing streak, but after that, the Diamondbacks maxed out at four wins in a row and never lost more than three games in a row.

The NL West has been an afterthought for much of the season as the Dodgers have had a double-digit first-place lead every day dating back to June 15. The third-place D-Backs, too, have been an afterthought, particularly after trading Zack Greinke to the Astros. But they’re really not in bad shape, entering Monday’s action 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card in the National League. Their remaining schedule isn’t particularly challenging, with nine games remaining against the Padres, six against the Reds, and three against the Marlins. They do have to face the Dodgers, Mets, and Cardinals still, but it could certainly be worse. Could this seemingly mediocre but persistent team sneak into the Wild Card?

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.