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.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.