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Sunday, January 29, 2023
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Astros blank Yankees to reach brink of World Series

(AFP)

Astros Vs Yankees 

Houston’s Cristian Javier and five relievers pitched a three-hit shutout Saturday as the Astros beat the New York Yankees 5-0, moving within one victory of reaching the World Series.

Chas McCormick smacked a home run and Christian Vazquez drove in two runs for the Astros, who seized a 3-0 lead over the Yankees in their best-of-seven Major League Baseball playoff matchup.

Houston can complete a sweep of the American League Championship Series by winning Sunday in New York.

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“Every night we have a big chance to win,” Vazquez said. “We have big pieces on the team and we’re in a good place now. It’s a special team.

“It was a big win for us.”

The Philadelphia Phillies carry a 2-1 series lead over visiting San Diego into a later National League Championship Series contest.

The Astros, in the ALCS for a record sixth consecutive season, seek their fourth World Series appearance in that span, having won the title in 2017 but lost in 2019 and last year.

Yankees right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole, twice a winner in the division series, started against 25-year-old Dominican right-hander Javier, making his first start in three weeks.

Javier hurled 5 1/3 shutout innings, striking out five while allowing only one hit and three walks.

“He’s got one of the best fastballs and sliders in the game,” catcher Vazquez said of Javier. “So attacking hitters, that’s the key for him, and getting ahead.”

A costly second-inning Yankee error helped Houston grab a 2-0 lead.

Vazquez’s two-out fly ball was dropped by New York outfielder Harrison Bader after he and teammate Aaron Judge nearly collided in right-centerfield.

Instead of the inning being over, Vazquez reached first base and McCormick followed with a two-run homer to right field off Cole that put the Astros ahead.

Giancarlo Stanton delivered New York’s only hit of the first eight innings with a one-out double to wall in the fourth but two Yankee fly outs ended the inning.

‘I hit it good’ 

Houston’s Alex Bregman doubled to open the sixth inning, Kyle Tucker walked and both advanced on Yuli Gurriel’s single to right field to load the bases, prompting New York to reeplace Cole with relief pitcher Lou Trivino.

Trey Mancini’s sacrifice fly drove in a run and Vazquez followed with a two-run single to left field as Houston created the final victory margin.

“They throw me a lot of sliders,” Vazquez said. “I was trying to sit on it and I hit it good. It was a big two runs batted in there.”

After that, Houston’s relievers baffled Yankee batters to complete the triumph, New York adding singles from Matt Carpenter and Bader with two outs in the ninth.

The Yankees, winners of a record 27 World Series titles, have not reached the championship showdown since beating Philadelphia for the 2009 crown. They have lost their past four ALCS appearances, the past two to Houston.

In the NL, the Phillies, in the playoffs for the first time since 2011, haven’t reached the World Series since 2009.

San Diego last went this deep in the playoffs in 1998, when the Padres were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.

Link to more baseball stories can be found here.

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