Tagged in: Astros

McCullers throws 7 scoreless, Astros beat Giants 6-4

Lance McCullers Jr. pitched no-hit ball into the seventh inning, Michael Brantley and Carlos Correa drove in two runs each and the Houston Astros snapped a five-game skid with a 6-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night.

McCullers (2-1) bounced back from one of the worst performances of his career with a gem where he permitted one hit and struck out five in seven scoreless innings. The 26-year-old tied a career high by allowing eight runs in just 3 2/3 innings of a 14-7 loss at Arizona his last time out.

His only hit Monday came to 15 games with a grounder down the third base line that rolled just out of reach of Alex Bregman for a double with one out in the seventh.

The Astros got back in the win column a day after an ugly 7-2 loss to the Athletics that was marred by a benches-clearing fight that could lead to the suspension of hitting coach Alex Cintrón.

Cintrón was yelling at Oakland’s Ramón Laureano before the A’s outfielder charged Houston’s dugout, leading to the team’s second such incident this season after the Astros also got into with the Dodgers. San Francisco rookie starter Logan Webb (1-1) permitted four hits and five runs — only two earned because of two errors — in 3 1/3 innings.

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The Giants got things going on offense after McCullers left the game. Austin Slater had a solo shot off Josh James that made it 6-1 in the eighth inning.

Solano chased James on an RBI double with no outs in the ninth.

Ryan Pressly retired the next two batters before the Giants cut it to 6-3 on a run-scoring single by Brandon Crawford. Slater hit an RBI single before Pressly retired pinch-hitter Evan Longoria to get his first save.

Bregman was by Solano’s throw home while trying to score on Yuli Gurriel’s grounder in the third. The ball bounced off Bregman, glanced off catcher Chadwick Tromp’s mask and rolled away, allowing Bregman to score.

McCullers, who missed last season after Tommy John surgery, retired his first six batters before plunking Slater on the leg to start the third inning. He helped himself out with a nifty defensive play to end that inning when he ran to cover first base on a grounder hit by Mike Yastrzemski, made an off-balance catch and tagged Yastrzemski before falling to the dirt.

Martín Maldonado snapped a 0-for-13 slump when he connected off Conner Menez for a solo homer to the seats in right field to start Houston’s sixth and make it 6-0.

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Astros fire assistant GM Brandon Taubman

The Houston Astros fired assistant general manager Brandon Taubman on Thursday after firstly denying a news article that Taubman had taunted female journalists in the baseball team’s clubhouse about the signing of a pitcher accused of domestic violence.

“We were wrong,” the Astros said in a statement, referring to the club’s first claim that Taubman’s “inappropriate comments were not directed toward any reporter.”

Taubman’s “conduct does not reflect the values of our organization and we believe this is the most appropriate course of action,” the Astros said.

The team also directly apologized to Sports Illustrated and its reporter Stephanie Apstein, who on Monday broke the news of Taubman’s heckling of the reporters about pitcher Roberto Osuna. The reversal by the Astros came, the team said, after a two-day investigation by officials from Major League Baseball, who questioned members of the media.

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Taubman repeatedly yelled “Thank God we got Osuna, I’m so f—— glad we got Osuna” in the direction of three female reporters Saturday night after the Astros defeated the Yankees to win the American League pennant and secure a World Series berth, according to Sports Illustrated’s article.

One of the reporters subjected to the taunts was wearing a purple domestic-violence awareness bracelet.

That reporter, according to a subsequent account by NPR, has tweeted continually about domestic violence in recent years, and Taubman complained last year that her tweets of domestic violence hotline phone numbers had been posted “moments after Osuna entered several Astros games in relief.”

Osuna, while playing with the Toronto Blue Jays, was arrested for alleged domestic violence in May 2018 against the mother of his young child. He later was hired by the Astros.

Although his criminal case later was dropped after the alleged victim went to Mexico and declined to testify against him, Osuna was suspended for 75 games by Major League Baseball. The Astros presently are down 0-2 in the World Series against the Washington Nationals

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Yankees, Astros plan to make a bullpen game

The Yankees plan to use their bullpen against Houston from the start in Game 4 of the AL Championship Series.

With the best-of-seven series tied 1-1, Luis Severino starts Game 3 on Tuesday versus Gerrit Cole. Masahiro Tanaka started the opener and James Paxton was on the mound for Game 2. Manager Aaron Boone plans to use pitchers who have been in the bullpen in the postseason during the fourth game on Wednesday night.

“J.A. Happ could very much be in the mix, as well as I picture our bullpen being unleashed on that day,” Boone said Monday as the series shifted to New York.

A starter during the regular season, Happ has relieved during the playoffs.

The 36-year-old left-hander entered in the 10th inning of Game 2, escaped a two-outs jam, then permitted Carlos Correa’s home run leading off the 11th that gave the Astros a 3-2 win.

Weather could cause New York to alter its plans. Heavy rain is forecast for Wednesday, and if Game 4 is rescheduled, the Yankees would be able to bring back Tanaka, the Game 1 winner, on normal rest. Boone removed Paxton after 2 1/3 innings and 51 pitches, and the bullpen allowed two runs and three hits in 7 2/3 innings. George Springer hit a tying home run in the fifth on Adam Ottavino’s first pitch.

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“I don’t think he’s as far off maybe as is being talked, but he’s certainly not as sharp as he’s been most of the year,” Boone said. “I feel like he’s close to being that, and I think some small successes hopefully will spur him on because he needs to play a big role for us.”

Boone says a choice won’t be made until Wednesday on outfielder Giancarlo Stanton, who strained his right quadriceps in the opener and missed Game 2.

Limited by injuries to 18 games during the regular season, Stanton homered in the opener. If he were dropped from the roster against the Astros, he would be ineligible to return this year.

“It is a sensitive decision, a tough decision,” Boone said. “We’ll just try and evaluate and try and get as honest as feedback as we can from Giancarlo.”

Aaron Hicks could get his first start since Aug. 3, taking over in center field from Brett Gardner, who would substitute Stanton in left. Sidelined by an injured flexor near his right elbow, Hicks pinch-hit for starting left fielder Cameron Maybin and grounded out leading off the 10th inning in Game 2, then moved to center.

“Aaron is very much in play,” Boone said, “Thought he had a good at-bat, looked like Aaron Hicks. So he’ll very much be part of the conversation moving forward.”

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Rays chase Verlander early, beat Astros to even ALDS

The Tampa Bay Rays never disbelieved themselves, even with Justin Verlander looking to end their season.

Willy Adames homered and made a extraordinary relay throw from shortstop, and the Rays chased the Houston ace early in beating the Astros 4-1 Tuesday night to even their AL Division Series at two games apiece.

With their second victory in two days over one of baseball’s best pitchers, the Rays believe the rest of the country is finally getting a taste of what they’re capable of achieving.

”Hey, I hate to say it: About time, because we have a really good team over here,” Tommy Pham said.

”To win 96 games in this division (the AL East) with New York and Boston is an impressive feat,” he added. ”All year, we’ve been getting talked down. And now, with the last two games, the way we played, the whole world has seen how good of a team we are and how well-rounded we are.”

The series shifts back to Houston for a decisive Game 5 on Thursday night.

Astros star Gerrit Cole is scheduled to pitch for the heavily favored AL West champs, who led the majors with 107 wins this season and have one more chance to close out the feisty Rays. Tyler Glasnow is expected to start for Tampa Bay.

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The winner plays the New York Yankees in the AL Championship Series.

Verlander, starting on short rest after dominating the wild-card Rays in Game 1, looked uncomfortable on the mound at Tropicana Field and was pulled in the fourth after giving up four runs.

Verlander, whose eight career ALDS victories are a major league record, yielded three runs in the first. Adames homered leading off the fourth to make it 4-0, and the eight-time All-Star didn’t make it through the inning.

”A good approach for those guys in the first, and then honestly, I need those infield singles to be caught. When you don’t have it, you need the balls that are put in play to go your way, and they didn’t,” said Verlander, who only started on short rest three other times during his career, including the 2011 ALDS, when he started Games 1 and 3 after Game 1 was suspended in the second inning.

The Rays helped themselves by playing stellar defense, especially with the Astros threatening to cut into their three-run deficit in the fourth.

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