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Astros top Yankees 4-1 in Game 3, take 2-1 ALCS lead

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The Astros have taken a two games to one series lead in the ALCS after shutting down the Yankees 4-1 in Game 3 in New York on Tuesday. Gerrit Cole, without his best stuff, fired seven shutout innings while José Altuve and Josh Reddick each hit solo homers against Luis Severino to jump-start the offense.

Altuve’s home run came with one out in the top of the first inning, immediately giving Cole a lead. After Cole wriggled out of a jam in the bottom half of the inning, Reddick tacked on a homer of his own to lead off the second.

The Yankees were not without opportunities to answer. They had four plate appearances with a runner on scoring position in the first, one in the second, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth, going 0-for-6 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base.

Cole ultimately blanked the Yankees on four hits and five walks with seven strikeouts across seven innings. Severino, his counterpart, gave up two runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. That Severino pitched into the fifth was impressive in and of itself after a 36-pitch first inning.

The Astros tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning with a little help from catcher Gary Sánchez. Adam Ottavino walked George Springer to open the inning, then Altuve slapped a grounder to right field on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. Lefty Zach Britton entered, getting Michael Brantley to hit a grounder to first base that allowed DJ LeMahieu to nab Springer at home. With Altuve on third and Brantley on second, Britton intentionally walked Alex Bregman to bring up Yuli Gurriel. During the at-bat, Britton threw a sinker in the dirt that a better catcher would’ve blocked. Sánchez didn’t. The ball skipped away, allowing Altuve to score and everyone else to advance a base. Gurriel then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Brantley, making it 4-0.

Smith took over in the eighth. Gleyber Torres ruined the shutout with one out, sending a Joe Smith sinker over the fence in right field for his second postseason homer. Thus ended Smith’s night. Will Harris took over, getting Didi Gregorius to pop up for the second out and Sánchez to ground out to end the frame.

In the bottom of the ninth, manager A.J. Hinch handed the ball to closer Roberto Osuna. He got Gio Urshela to fly out to center field, Aaron Hicks to line out to center, and DJ LeMahieu to ground out to third base to complete a 1-2-3 inning. Astros win 4-1.

Now up 2-1 in the ALCS, the Astros will look to put even more distance between themselves and the Yankees on Wednesday in Game 4 in the Bronx. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 PM ET.

Rockies, Trevor Story agree on two-year, $27.5 million contract

Trevor Story
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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the Rockies and shortstop Trevor Story have come to terms on a two-year, $27.5 million deal, buying out his two remaining years of arbitration eligibility.

Story, 27, and the Rockies did not agree on a salary before the deadline earlier this month. Story filed for $11.5 million while the team countered at $10.75 million. The average annual value of this deal — $13.75 million — puts him a little bit ahead this year and likely a little bit behind next year.

This past season in Colorado, Story hit .294/.363/.554 with 35 home runs, 85 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 23 stolen bases over 656 trips to the plate. He also continued to rank among the game’s best defensive shortstops. Per FanGraphs, Story’s 10.9 Wins Above Replacement over the last two seasons is fifth-best among shortstops (min. 1,000 PA) behind Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Xander Bogaerts, and Marcus Semien.

With third baseman Nolan Arenado likely on his way out via trade, one wonders if the same fate awaits Story at some point over the next two seasons.