MLB

Cubs take advantage of Pirates' historically bad pitching

By Sports Desk September 14, 2019

The Chicago Cubs crushed the Pittsburgh Pirates 17-8 at Wrigley Field on Friday and the visiting team's poor pitching was a big reason why.

Cubs catcher Willson Contreras went yard twice while Nicholas Castellanos, Anthony Rizzo and Nico Hoerner each notched one home run apiece.

Chicago totalled five home runs in all and it was not a good night for Pirates starter Steven Brault.

Brault became the first pitcher in MLB's Live Ball Era to allow 10 earned runs and five home runs in three innings or less.

He forked up eight hits in just 2.2 innings before being relieved.

Pittsburgh's offense was not bad though, as they tallied 13 hits from eight different batters.

The Pirates remain far from playoff contention with a 65-83 record while the Cubs are second in the National League (NL) Central with a 79-68 mark.

Chicago are just holding onto the NL's second wildcard spot.

The New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers both lost their Friday matchups, giving the Cubs a little more breathing room as they look to remain in the hunt.

Chicago are up a half game on Milwaukee and three on the Mets for the second wildcard spot. The Philadelphia Phillies, who are also in pursuit of that spot, were idle on Friday.

Lux lifts Dodgers

Rookie Gavin Lux homered and drove in three runs as the Los Angeles Dodgers topped the New York Mets 9-2.

Bo Bichette went three for five and scored two runs for the Toronto Blue Jays in their 6-5 win against the New York Yankees.

 

Flowers fails

The Atlanta Braves' Tyler Flowers was hitless in five at-bats in his team's 5-0 victory against the Washington Nationals.

Detroit's Miguel Cabrera went 0 for four in the Tigers' 6-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

 

Miraculous LeMahieu

The Yankees' DJ LeMahieu managed to create an incredible double play.

Friday's results

Chicago Cubs 17-8 Pittsburgh Pirates
Atlanta Braves 5-0 Washington Nationals
Toronto Blue Jays 6-5 New York Yankees
Baltimore Orioles 6-2 Detroit Tigers
Los Angeles Dodgers 9-2 New York Mets
Oakland Athletics 14-9 Texas Rangers
Houston Astros 4-1 Kansas City Royals
St Louis Cardinals 10-0 Milwaukee Brewers
Colorado Rockies 10-8 San Diego Padres
Cincinnati Reds 4-3 Arizona Diamondbacks
Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 Los Angeles Angels
San Francisco Giants 1-0 Miami Marlins
Chicago White Sox 9-7 Seattle Mariners

 

Twins at Indians

Cleveland are right outside the playoff picture and just 3.5 games back from American League (AL) Central-leading Minnesota. The Indians are on the brink of a postseason appearance so beating their toughest divisional rivals could be huge for them as they look to build momentum.

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    The New York Yankees forced game six on Friday after defeating Houston Astros 4-1 in game five of the American League Championship Series.

    A pair of early home runs and impressive starting pitching from James Paxton helped to get the job done.

    Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the first inning on a night where all five runs came in the team's opening frame.

    The Astros will have to defend home turf in an attempt to avoid game seven, with one win sending them to the World Series. New York must win the last two games to earn a berth in the Fall Classic.

     

    New York found quality pitching when it mattered most

    The Yankees have made it a point to utilise a host of pitchers in the ALCS, but they got a great performance from starter James Paxton and a trio of relievers in a critical game that could've ended their season. Paxton gave up four hits and one earned run in six innings of work, notching nine strikeouts. Then Tommy Kahnle, Zack Britton, and Aroldis Chapman combined to give up one hit for the remainder of the contest once Paxton was taken out.

    The Astros' five hits in the contest were their second-lowest total in the series after being held to just three in their game one loss.


    The stage wasn't too big for Aaron Hicks

    Aaron Hicks was an unlikely hero for the Yankees on Friday. Although the outfielder was initially ruled out for the season in August after suffering a flexor strain in his elbow, he returned from a two-month hiatus to face Houston and help his team with its World Series push. He blasted a three-run homer off the foul pole in the first inning and that made all the difference.

    New York scored all four of its runs in the first inning before going on a scoring drought, but it didn't matter as the Astros experienced a drought of their own. Now the Yankees will likely benefit from a bullpen game on Saturday, and there will be ample opportunity for other players to unexpectedly tee off without facing the best of Houston's starters.


    Justin Verlander continues to be plagued by home runs

    Justin Verlander gave up a career-high 36 home runs in 2019 and that trend has followed him into the post-season. Even though Hicks' home run nearly hooked right of the foul pole, DJ LeMahieu also hit a solo homer and those were the decisive moments in the game. Verlander has given up 10 runs and five home runs in his last three appearances.

    Verlander rebounded tremendously from his poor start in his seven-inning outing, tallying nine strikeouts, but the offense couldn't get flowing and now Houston faces a difficult situation. The Astros' trio of starters has been heralded as the best in MLB, but Gerrit Cole won't be ready to go on short rest in game six.

    New York has coasted on power hitting all season long and now they can take advantage of not having to face elite starters as they look to force game seven.

  • CC Sabathia removed from Yankees' ALCS roster CC Sabathia removed from Yankees' ALCS roster

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    Sabathia, who confirmed in February the 2019 MLB season would be his last, exited the Yankees' defeat to the Houston Astros on Thursday with a shoulder injury.

    The 39-year-old pitcher has now been removed from the Yankee's roster for the remainder of the American League Championship Series (ALCS), having suffered a subluxation of his left shoulder joint.

    Sabathia will be replaced by pitcher Ben Heller and is ineligible to return this postseason.

    The home crowd gave Sabathia a standing ovation in what has now become his final appearance at Yankee Stadium.

    Over his 19-year career with the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Brewers and Yankees, Sabathia posted a 251-161 regular-season and a 3.74 ERA.

    Earlier this season, he became just the third left-handed pitcher in MLB history to record 3,000 strikeouts in their career.

    Sabathia was a six-time All-Star and won the Cy Young Award in 2007 with Cleveland. He was named ALCS MVP in 2009 on the way to a World Series title with the Yankees.

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    Houston moved on the brink of a showdown with the Washington Nationals thanks to Thursday's 8-3 victory against the Yankees in Game 4.

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    Three takeaways from the Astros' ALCS Game 4 win over the Yankees

    Yankees oddly lucky

    While this was the most runs the Yankees have allowed in a game this postseason, New York were lucky they did not give up more. And yes, it sounds odd, but when you find out the Astros had 13 balls hit 95.0 mph or higher through seven innings and only six of them were hits, that is pretty darn lucky.

    In fact, every single one of Houston's batters had a ball hit at 95.0 mph or better. The Astros may not have scored that many runs in the game, but it does look like they are starting to get their timing down after struggling to do so for much of the playoffs.

    Learn Harris' name

    Leading up to the postseason, seemingly every pundit who talks about baseball wanted to point out the Astros' vulnerability in the bullpen. They mentioned Roberto Osuna, Ryan Pressly and Josh James, saying that was all Houston had.

    No one ever seemed to mention Will Harris. And odds are, if you talk to an everyday fan, they will not know who he is either. Well, if those everyday fans were Yankees apologists, they know who he is now.

    Harris tossed yet another scoreless inning in Game 4 and now has thrown 4.3 innings in the postseason while striking out seven and giving up zero runs. This comes after a year in which Harris posted a 1.50 ERA in 68 games. And these were short appearances either. He threw 60 innings. Learn this man's name. He is an impact reliever even if no one will talk about him.

    Yankee defense comes back to bite them

    The Yankees are not necessarily known for being a fantastic defensive team but they have good players on that side. DJ LeMahieu has won a Gold Glove, Aaron Judge might win one this season and Didi Gregorius is a solid defensive player as well, just like Aaron Hicks.

    But New York have some guys playing out of position to get men in the line-up as Gleyber Torres is playing second when he is probably more of a shortstop or third baseman. LeMahieu is playing first when he is a Gold Glover at second and Brett Gardner is playing left while a healthy Giancarlo Stanton probably takes that spot.

    And it did not work out in Game 4. The Yankees made four errors, one of which was a big part of Carlos Correa's three-run homer in the sixth inning. Alex Bregman reached base on an error and eventually came around to score a few batters later.

    Also, just a bit of an oddity here too, the Yankees have only ever made three errors at home in a postseason game three times, all three have come on Oct. 17 (2009, 2017).

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