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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.

Justin Verlander named 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner

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Astros starter Justin Verlander was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner. Teammate Gerrit Cole finished in a close second place at 159 points. Charlie Morton finished third at 75 points, Shane Bieber fourth at 64, Lance Lynn fifth at 18, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lucas Giolito sixth at eight, and Mike Minor eighth at seven.

Verlander, 36, won the AL Cy Young Award (and AL MVP Award) in 2011 with the Tigers). He and Cole became the first pair of teammates to finish first and second on the ballot for the AL Cy Young Award. Four NL teammates accomplished the feat: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001 and ’02, Don Newcomb and Sal Maglie in 1956, and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith in 1974.

During the regular season, Verlander led all starting pitchers in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.803). He also compiled a 2.58 ERA with a 300/42 K/BB ratio. Along with a 300-strikeout season, Verlander achieved other milestones, including reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career and 200 career postseason strikeouts (an all-time record).

2019 was not without controversy for Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, as he had a well-publicized disagreement with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He tried to have Fenech barred from the clubhouse during media availability despite the collective bargaining agreement ensuring access to BBWAA-credentialed reporters. It was one of many Astros-related scandals in 2019.

Verlander is the first Astro to win the Cy Young Award since Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986) also won the award back when the Astros were in the National League.