Sabathia’s Career Done As Yankees Add Heller – The New York Yankees officially removed CC Sabathia from the roster for the American League Championship Series on Friday, replacing him with right-handed reliever Ben Heller. Sabathia would not be eligible to return should the Yankees get to the World Series, so the 39-year-old left-hander has made his final appearance in pinstripes. Sabathia’s knee buckled and his shoulder seemed to give out as he tried to get out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning of the Houston Astros‘ 8-3 win in Game 4 of the ALCS Thursday night. He walked off the mound toward second, spoke with head athletic trainer Steve Donohue and tried a warmup toss, hoping somehow to push through, but he had to leave. The Yankees said Sabathia suffered a subluxation — or partial dislocation — of his left shoulder joint. Sabathia, who along with outfielder Brett Gardner is one of the two remaining members of the 2009 World Series championship team, limped off the field with tears in his eyes. He had announced that he was retiring after the season. A six-time All-Star and the 2007 AL Cy Young Award winner with Cleveland, Sabathia finished with a 251-161 regular-season record with 3,093 strikeouts. He had made four trips to the injured list this year due to his balky right knee. With their season on the line and Houston holding a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, the Yankees will have lefty James Paxton versus Astros ace Justin Verlander on the mound for a do-or-die Game 5. Paxton told ESPN that Sabathia would be his inspiration when he takes the mound Friday. Heller had a 1.23 ERA and nine strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings for the Yankees this season after returning from Tommy John surgery.
American League Championship Series:
- Houston Astros 8 – New York Yankees 3
Highlights: They have the pitching, and they don’t need the pitches. Certainly, the Houston Astros have confidence for good reason on the brink of another World Series. “It’s Justin Verlander,” reliever Ryan Pressly said. George Springer and Carlos Correa each hit three-run homers and the Astros got another wild ace off the hook to beat the disheveled New York Yankees 8-3 Thursday night and reach the cusp of a second World Series visit in three years. The Astros lead the AL Championship Series 3-1, putting the 2017 World Series winners a step away from a showdown with the NL champion Washington Nationals. Houston still has Verlander and Gerrit Cole queued up for this series, and the Yankees will have to beat both to survive. Verlander will start Game 5 on Friday night against James Paxton. Springer lined an errant splitter from playoff star Masahiro Tanaka in the third inning for his homer, and Correa battered Chad Green’s fastball when New York turned to its vaunted bullpen. Those All-Star sluggers have combined for just five hits in the series, but four have been homers. Earlier in the day, Astros manager AJ Hinch ardently denied that his team has skirted rules to steal signs after an allegation by the Yankees, which was investigated and cleared by Major League Baseball. He also made it clear: If a pitcher is tipping what’s coming, Houston will take advantage. New York worked starter Zack Greinke hard during a 28-pitch first inning, but just like against Cole in Game 3, the clutch hit never came. Pressly dodged a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, and many fans had left Yankee Stadium by the time it ended shortly before 12:30 a.m. Tanaka allowed four runs — three earned — for New York, his most in eight postseason starts. CC Sabathia pitched in relief for New York but was pulled with a left shoulder injury during the eighth inning. Planning to retire after the season, an emotional Sabathia covered his face with his glove as he left the field for likely the final time. Fans shouted his name as he walked off, and Cole and Springer were among the Houston players who stood and clapped for the 39-year-old. Gary Sanchez ended a lengthy postseason slide with a two-run homer, but a reshuffled Yankees lineup — still without injured Giancarlo Stanton — again couldn’t string together its damage.
Bad Forecast Moves ALCS Game 4 To Thursday – Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the Houston Astros and New York Yankees has been postponed due to expected inclement weather in New York on Wednesday night. First pitch for Game 4 will be 8:08 p.m. ET Thursday. Game 5 has been rescheduled for 7:08 p.m. ET Friday, which originally had been tabbed as a travel day, if necessary. The Astros have a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. The winner will face the Washington Nationals in the World Series. The move could affect pitching plans for both teams. The Astros could bring back Zack Greinke for Game 4 on regular rest, and the Yankees — who were planning a bullpen day for Game 4 — could instead go back to Masahiro Tanaka on regular rest. Tanaka blanked the Astros over six innings in Game 1 on Saturday, throwing just 68 pitches during a 7-0 win. Greinke, a 2009 Cy Young Award winner acquired from Arizona at the July 31 trade deadline, has struggled through two starts this postseason, including the Game 1 loss to the Yankees in which he allowed two homers and three runs in six innings. Having Wednesday off will be welcome for New York after manager Aaron Boone used five relievers to cover 4 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Astros. Starter Luis Severino threw 36 pitches in the first inning and was pulled in the fifth. Boone deployed key arms Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle, Adam Ottavino and Zack Britton in the loss, although none threw more than 11 pitches. Games 6 and 7, if necessary, are not affected by Wednesday’s postponement and will be held in Houston on Saturday and Sunday. Wednesday’s matchup is the first postseason game to be postponed since Game 4 of the National League Division Series between the Nationals and the Chicago Cubs in 2017, and the first LCS game to be called off since Game 3 of the Baltimore Orioles-Kansas City Royals series in 2014.
Maddon Reaches Deal To Be New Angels Manager – The Los Angeles Angels have reached an agreement with Joe Maddon to make him their next manager, the team announced Wednesday. A source told ESPN that Maddon is expected to receive a three-year contract in the $12 million to $15 million range. Maddon, 65, is returning to the Angels organization after spending five seasons with the Chicago Cubs and leading the franchise to its first World Series title in 108 years in 2016. He had been linked to the Angels job ever since the team fired Brad Ausmus on Sept. 30, a day after Maddon and the Cubs announced they were parting ways. The Angels finished 72-90 during Ausmus’ only season as manager. Maddon spent 31 years in the Angels’ organization, the last six as Mike Scioscia’s bench coach from 2000 to 2005. Prior to joining the Cubs, he served nine years as Tampa Bay Rays manager, leading that team to its only World Series appearance in 2008. Maddon signed a five-year, $25 million deal with the Cubs prior to the 2015 season, and the team finished above .500 in each of his five seasons. His .582 winning percentage ranks second all time in franchise history, behind only Frank Chance (768-389, .664, from 1905 to ’12). In 2016, Maddon guided Chicago to 103 regular-season wins and then a long-awaited World Series title that postseason. He was credited with changing the culture and creating a loose atmosphere for his players during a pressure-filled time when they were picked by many to win it all. Maddon inherits a franchise in turmoil following an Outside the Lines report that team employees allegedly were aware of Tyler Skaggs‘ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office. The Angels could face significant sanctions from Major League Baseball if it finds the allegations were true. Congrats Joe Maddon! You landed in a great spot. You get to manage the best player in the game, Mike Trout.
American League Championship Series:
- Houston Astros 4 – New York Yankees 1 (HOU leads series 2-1)
Highlights: A gritty Gerrit Cole held the New York Yankees scoreless without his sharpest stuff, Jose Altuve sparked Houston at the plate and the Astros locked down a 4-1 victory Tuesday to take a 2-1 lead in the AL Championship Series. Altuve and Josh Reddick homered early off Luis Severino, who labored into the fifth while keeping the Yankees close. But they never broke through against Cole, who went seven innings to win his 19th straight decision despite walking five batters for the second time in his career. Cole pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the first and stranded nine runners through five, improving to 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in three outings this postseason. Poised to become a prized free agent this fall who could command more than $200 million, he’s putting together a dominant run that’s beginning to rival some of baseball’s greatest October pitching performances. The 29-year-old right-hander, unbeaten in 25 starts since his last loss on May 22, allowed four hits and struck out seven. That ended a streak of 11 consecutive games with double-digit strikeouts — the previous big league record was eight. Cole led the majors in strikeouts this season. Game 4 in the best-of-seven playoff is scheduled for Wednesday night — but that could change. The gloomy weather forecast calls for a substantial storm with steady-to-heavy rain and wind all night in New York, potentially forcing a postponement that would likely alter pitching plans for both teams. Gleyber Torres homered in the eighth off Houston reliever Joe Smith, one batter after replay umpires reversed a call and ruled Edwin Encarnacion out at first base. That led to a little trash and a ball being thrown onto the field before public address announcer Paul Olden reminded fans not to toss any objects out of the stands. Roberto Osuna got three quick outs in the ninth for a save.
National League Championship Series:
- St. Louis Cardinals 4 – Washington Nationals 7 (WSH wins series 4-0)
Highlights: As the Washington Nationals moved a party 86 years in the making from their ballpark’s infield to a booze-filled clubhouse, manager Dave Martinez paused near the dugout and thrust the silver NL Championship Series trophy overhead, to the delight of loud, delirious fans still in the stands. Who would have thought this was possible five months ago, when the team was flailing, trade talk was swirling around Washington and folks figured Martinez’s job was in jeopardy? From 19-31 during a mediocre May to the Fall Classic in an outstanding October — and the city’s first World Series appearance since 1933. Extending their stunning turnaround, the wild-card Nationals got RBI from middle-of-the-order stars Anthony Rendon and Juan Soto in a seven-run first inning Tuesday night, and Patrick Corbin‘s 12-strikeout performance plus a trio of relievers helped hold on to beat the St. Louis Cardinals 7-4 in Game 4 to complete a sweep in the NLCS. Now the Nationals get plenty of time to rest and set up their so-far terrific rotation before beginning the last series of the season against the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in a week. Houston leads the best-of-seven AL Championship Series 2-1 after winning Game 3 at New York 4-1 Tuesday. The Nationals became the fourth team to reach the World Series after being 12 games under .500. Donald Hudson finished things with a perfect ninth, getting Tommy Edman on a fly ball to center field to end it, and red fireworks went off around the stadium. Veteran Howie Kendrick was named MVP of the NL Championship Series on Tuesday, with his big bat helping Washington to a four-game sweep of the Cardinals.
National League Championship Series:
- St. Louis Cardinals 1 – Washington Nationals 8 (WSH leads series 3-0)
Highlights: More than 100 pitches in, Stephen Strasburg was adamant he wasn’t quite ready to leave the latest superb start by a Nationals pitcher against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Championship Series — a win that put Washington on the verge of the city’s first World Series in 86 years. It was the seventh inning, and manager Dave Martinez noticed Strasburg had flexed his right leg and reached for that hamstring. So the skipper and a trainer went to the mound to check on their guy. The right-hander stayed in. Even struck out the next two batters to raise his total to 12 Ks, each finished with an off-speed pitch. Strasburg took his turn silencing the Cardinals’ struggling bats, Nationals postseason star Howie Kendrick doubled three times and drove in three more runs, and Washington took a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven NLCS by beating St. Louis 8-1 Monday night. After Nationals startersAnibal SanchezandMax Scherzer flirted with no-hitters in the first two games against the Cardinals, Strasburg wasn’t quite that untouchable: He allowed a double in the second inning, six later singles and one unearned run. Still, the Cardinals, quite simply, can’t score in this NLCS: They have a grand total of two runs and 11 hits through three games. Washington’s three starters have a combined ERA — no calculator necessary for this one — of 0.00. The Nationals roughed up Jack Flaherty for four runs, all in the third inning; he hadn’t allowed that many in a game since July 2, a span of 18 appearances. Seven of Washington’s eight runs came with two outs, and there were contributions from up and down the lineup: Victor Robles homered in his return from a hamstring injury, and Rendon heard “MVP!” chants after a slick defensive play and an RBI double. Now it’s Patrick Corbin‘s chance to see if he can match his rotation-mates. The $140 million lefty will start for the Nationals in Game 4 on Tuesday night, when they can close out a sweep at home. Rookie right-hander Dakota Hudson will be on the mound for the Cardinals.
American League Championship Game:
- New York Yankees 2 – Houston Astros 3 (Series tied 1-1)
Highlights: Injured down the stretch and slumping this month, Carlos Correa hit a leadoff home run in the 11th inning that lifted the Houston Astros over the New York Yankees 3-2 Sunday night, tying the AL Championship Series at one game apiece. Correa, who earlier lined an RBI double and made a sensational play at shortstop, connected for an opposite-field shot to right off J.A. Happ. Hours earlier, Correa was confident this would be the day he turned things around. About time, too, after starting out 3 for 22 in the postseason after returning from back problems. “I’ve got my swing back,” he said then. “I’m going to hit a homer tonight.” And with a swing that kept Houston from falling into an 0-2 hole, he did just that. Correa watched the ball sail, tossed his bat, put his hand to one ear to soak in the roars of the crowd and then held up one finger as he rounded the bases. As he approached home plate, he tossed his helmet as if shooting a basketball at the crowd of teammates waiting for him. Correa’s big night gave him 27 RBI in the postseason to pass Lance Berkman for the most in franchise history. And it was a familiar scene — in Game 2 of the 2017 ALCS against the Yankees, Correa hit a walk-off double in the ninth. The Yankees tied a League Championship Series record by using nine pitchers. The eight relievers had permitted only one run and two hits with 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings before Correa homered, ending a game that took 4 hours, 49 minutes and finished just before midnight. Houston’s five relievers combined for 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout ball after taking over for Justin Verlander. Going into this best-of-seven series, the Yankees were considered the better team in the bullpen — the Astros amply held their own in this one. Gary Sanchez struck out looking to end the Yankees 11th with runners on first and second. The pitch appeared outside — it came right after he swung and missed with two strikes, but was ruled a foul ball. Aaron Judge put the Yankees on top 2-1 with a two-run shot off Verlander in the fourth. It was his first homer this postseason and the eighth in his playoff career. George Springer tied it in the fifth with his franchise-record 12th career postseason home run. The 2017 World Series MVP homered on the first pitch after reliever Adam Ottavino entered. Along with his bat, Correa made the key play in the field to keep it tied at 2 in the sixth. With runners at first and second, and on the move on a full-count pitch with two outs, Brett Gardner hit a hard grounder that bounced off second baseman Jose Altuve for a single. The ball bounded away and Correa quickly retrieved it and threw a strike to catcher Robinson Chirinos, who tagged out the sliding DJ LeMahieu. Correa ended an 0-for-14 slump with an RBI double in the second off James Paxton, who lasted just 2 1/3 innings.