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Rays jump all over Astros pitching in ALDS Game 3

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The Rays’ backs are against the wall in their series against the Astros. If they don’t win today their season is over. As such, it was super important that they get off to a good start today and carry it through to victory.

They didn’t, exactly, as José Altuve hit a solo homer in the first inning as the Astros hitters made Rays starter Charlie Morton throw 31 pitches. Meanwhile, Astros starter Zack Greinke cruised, needing only nine pitches to set the Rays down in order in the bottom half.

Things changed in the second, though, as Morton walked one batter but retired the other three he faced to make the Astros go quietly. In the bottom half the Rays got to Greinke. Avisaíl García singles, Greinke hit Travis d'Arnaud with a pitch to put two on and then Kevin Kiermaeir timed a Greinke changeup perfectly and served it over the right center field fence for a three-run jack to put the Rays up 3-1:

It’s now the top of the third. The Astros have an outstanding offense so this game is obviously far from over. But for once — the first time in the series, in fact — the Rays have a lead.

UPDATE: Ji-Man Choi has hit a solo homer in the bottom of the third inning and it’s now 4-1 Tampa Bay.

UPDATE: Welp, make that 5-1, as Brandon Lowe has now taken Greinke deep for the third time today to give the Rays a 5-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth.

UPDATE: It’s now 8-1. Go take a walk and get a snack. There’s a lot more, and better baseball today.

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.