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Carlos Martínez had a bad day yesterday


In Thursday’s Game 1 of the Braves-Cardinals NLDS matchup, Cardinals closer Carlos Martínez gave up a two-run home run to Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña, clearly pumped by the homer, watched it fly and celebrated with no small amount of exuberance as he rounded the bases.

This, you’ll recall, agitated Martínez, who said after the game that he didn’t care for Acuña’s antics and that he “wanted [Acuña] to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player.”

Flash forward to last night, when Martínez was called on to protect the Cardinals’ 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson, who was replaced by pinch runner Billy Hamilton. Check out Martínez blowing a kiss to Hamilton at second base:

I actually think that’s kind of funny and would love to see more low-level in-game taunting like that, but Martínez’s “respect the game” schtick sort of undercuts his claim to irreverence, no?

Two RBI hits later the Braves had taken the lead from the Cardinals and Martínez was still in the game to face his nemesis from Thursday, Acuña. He walked him on six pitches, with balls 1, 3, and 4 all coming inside, two of which were high-and-tight. It’s not hard to conclude that, having blown the lead, Martínez was trying to take out his frustrations on Acuña. After ball 4, he still obviously had frustrations, however:

The Braves have certainly gotten under Martínez’s skin in this series. And have  tagged him twice in the process. All of which makes you wonder if Martínez’s skin isn’t a little too thin. All of which makes you wonder if there isn’t a competitive utility to big celebrations of home runs.

All of which makes you wonder if, in the event the Cards have a late lead to protect this afternoon in Game 4, Mike Shildt even bothers to get Martínez up in the bullpen.

Astros claim AL pennant with walk-off win against the Yankees

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Following a rollercoaster performance on Saturday, the Astros clinched the American League Championship Series with a decisive 6-4 walk-off win against the Yankees, claiming their second AL pennant and earning a well-deserved entrance to the World Series.

Both clubs decided to preserve possible Game 7 starters Luis Severino and Gerrit Cole, electing to have a “bullpen day” for a pivotal Game 6. Chad Green took the mound for the Yankees, tossing one inning before handing the ball off to a long line of relievers, while Brad Peacock‘s rare playoff start was capped at 1 2/3 innings. According to ESPN Stats & Info, that made it the first postseason game since 1999 in which neither starting pitcher lasted two innings or longer.

All told, the two clubs utilized a total of 13 pitchers to make it through nine innings. The Astros lost Ryan Pressly to a worrisome knee injury in the third, but were able to lean on José Urquidy for 2 2/3 innings of one-run, five-strikeout ball. Although Yankees’ bullpen fought back in every inning, they had considerable difficulty recovering from Yuli Gurriel‘s three-run homer off of Green in the bottom of the first:

Still, New York managed to get in a couple of knocks as well: first, with Gary Sanchez‘s RBI single in the second inning, then with Gio Urshela‘s 395-foot blast in the fourth inning — the second of his postseason career to date. That wasn’t enough to close the gap, however, and Alex Bregman‘s productive groundout in the sixth helped cushion the Astros’ lead as they headed toward the final few innings of the series.

That lead started to look a little shaky in the ninth. Only three outs away from a ticket to the World Series, Houston closer Roberto Osuna gave up a leadoff single to Urshela, which was quickly followed by a jaw-dropping, full-count, game-tying two-run shot from DJ LeMahieu that barely cleared the right field fence.

With the threat of extra innings and a potential loss looming, the Astros engineered a last-minute rally to regain the lead and stake their claim for the pennant. With two outs and no runners on, George Springer took a five-pitch walk from Aroldis Chapman. In the next at-bat, Houston pinned their hopes on José Altuve — and he didn’t disappoint, lifting a 2-1 slider out to left field for a 406-foot, two-RBI homer that confirmed the Astros’ series win.

The 2019 World Series will mark the third Fall Classic appearance for the Astros and the first for the Nationals. It all begins on Tuesday night.