March 20, 2023
Astros ends sweep of Yankees in ALCS;  will face Phillies in World Series -

Astros ends sweep of Yankees in ALCS; will face Phillies in World Series –

NEW YORK (AP) — Yordan Alvarez and Alex Bregman delivered big hits and the Houston Astros again advanced to the World Series, ending a four-game win over New York in the AL Championship Series with a 6-5 win Sunday night , aided by another Yankees defensive error.

The Astros took advantage of a costly mistake by second baseman Gleyber Torres to get the go in the seventh inning and won their second straight pennant and fourth in six years.

Rookie shortstop Jeremy Peña hit a triple homer against struggling Yankees starter Nestor Cortes to help the AL West champion come down from an early 3-0 deficit. Peña was selected as ALCS MVP.

Houston opens the World Series Friday night at home to Bryce Harper and the wildcard Philadelphia Phillies, who beat San Diego to finish the best-of-seven NLCS in five games.

It was the first time since 1992 that both pennants were decided on the same day.

After losing to Atlanta in last year’s World Series, Houston improved to 7-0 this postseason, earning the fifth pennant in franchise history and another shot at his second championship.

The 2017 team’s title was overshadowed by a cheating scandal.

With the playoffs expanding to 12 teams that year, the Phillies became the first third-ranked squad in baseball history to reach the World Series.

Philadelphia went 87-75 in the regular season — Bregman and the Astros finished 106-56 under coach Dusty Baker, seven games better than any other American League team.

“These are the greatest guys I’ve ever met!” Baker said on the field during the post-game celebration. “They come to play every day – all day.”

Baker, 73, is on his way to his third World Series in 25 seasons as a major league manager and is still aiming for his first championship as a banker. He won as a player with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

“It’s a very exciting time for me and the organization,” Baker said ahead of the game. “These guys came to expect to win. Winning breeds winning.”

After posting a 61-23 record in early July, AL East champions New York were no match for the Astros in October — again. Houston went 9-2 overall this year against the Yankees and has eliminated them from the playoffs four times in the past eight seasons, including 2017 and 2019 in the ALCS.

In fact, New York has lost in its last five trips to the AL Championship Series and has not claimed a pennant since winning its 27th World Series championship in 2009.

#28 has proven to be the most elusive.

“This is as bad as it gets,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.

Back at the top, Harrison Bader had three goals and scored three for New York. In his fifth home game of the playoffs, he connected winning pitcher Hector Neris and gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the sixth.

They couldn’t hold it when they absolutely had to.

Peña hit Torres in the seventh in what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. But his flip to second base went past shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa as the 46,545 crowd groaned and the Astros had two.

Alvarez was able to bring home the tie run on losing pitcher Jonathan Loáisiga’s next delivery, and Bregman put Houston ahead with an RBI single against Clay Holmes.

It was the sixth mistake this postseason for the Yankees, which also gave the Astros a crucial gift in Game 3. Chas McCormick hit an early homer with two runs ahead of New York ace Gerrit Cole after Bader, a Gold Glove outfielder, lost a two-out fly when he almost collided with Aaron Judge at right center.

Bryan Abreu, Rafael Montero and Ryan Pressly closed the door with relief.

Pressly retired Judge as a comeback for his third save of the series, sending the Astros out of the dugout for ecstatic hugs and handshakes on the infield.

Moments later, a crowd of orange-clad Houston fans chanted, “Sweep! Sweep!” behind the team’s third base dugout in a mostly empty Yankee Stadium.

With an early 3-0 lead, Cortes passed No. 9 batsman Martín Maldonado to start the third, falling 2-1 to the collapsing Jose Altuve.

Something was wrong. Boone and senior athletic trainer Tim Lentych went to the mound for a quick check on Cortes, who initially stayed in the game.

But he left Altuve, marking the first time the All-Star left has issued consecutive free passes this season. And eight pitches after the mound visit, Peña blasted a 3-1 shifter at the left field pitches to tie it.

That was it for an ailing Cortes, who retired with a left groin injury that he apparently aggravated again. He was sidelined from August 22 to September 7 with a strained left groin.

Alvarez doubled Wandy Peralta and finished third when Peralta was nailed by Kyle Tucker’s line drive, who went with an out for an infield single. Yuli Gurriel rebounded an RBI single through an open right side to put Houston 4-3 ahead, but Peralta stopped further damage.

Needing a win to extend their season, the Yankees got off to a fast start in the first inning after an 84-minute delay due to rain. Giancarlo Stanton laced up an RBI single from starter Lance McCullers Jr. and Torres shot a run-scoring single down the middle.

That ended New York’s scoreless run after 14 innings. Houston had gone 19 innings without conceding a deserved run.

Anthony Rizzo’s two-time RBI double made it 3-0 in the second, but Stanton slammed with runners in second and third. Rizzo also delivered an RBI single with two outs that tied it in fourth place with 4 points.

McCullers, who beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2017 ALCS with 24 straight curveballs, lasted five innings. He gave up four runs – three earned – and eight hits.


Third base coach Gary Pettis is expected to return to the Astros when they return to Houston. He was out with an illness.

“He’s doing great. He’s doing much better,” Baker said.

First base coach Omar Lopez has stepped in for Pettis, with quality control coach Dan Firova training first.


Astros: Justin Verlander should start at the start of the World Series. The 39-year-old right-hander went 18-4 this season with a 1.75 ERA in a hugely successful comeback from Tommy John’s surgery, making him a favorite to win his third Cy Young Award. He was hit hard in the Division Series opener against Seattle and then knocked out 11 in six innings of a one-run ball to win Game 1 of the ALCS. He is 0-6 in seven World Series starts.

Yankees: Begin their spring 2023 training schedule on February 25 against Philadelphia and host San Francisco in the regular season opener on March 30.


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