American League roundup: Astros, Rays, Yankees sweep to advance; A’s beat White Sox
Carlos Correa hit a two-out, tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning for the Houston Astros, who produced another stifling pitching performance and swept Minnesota with a 3-1 victory Wednesday that sent the Twins to a record 18th straight postseason loss.
Nine months after Houston’s rules-breaking, sign-stealing system from 2017 was revealed, the Astros advanced to the Division Series in Los Angeles. As the sixth seed, they’ll face the Oakland Athletics or Chicago White Sox in a best-of-five matchup starting Monday at Dodger Stadium.
The Twins are 0-18 in the playoffs since winning Game 1 of their Division Series at the New York Yankees on Oct. 5, 2004, a total of seven rounds lost. Since that date, the Astros are 43-35 in postseason play, winning 10 of 15 rounds with three trips to the World Series.
Kyle Tucker hit two RBI singles for the Astros and made a key throw from left field for the inning-ending out in the fifth.
Rookie Cristian Javier worked three hitless innings in relief for the victory in his postseason debut and Ryan Pressly pitched a perfect ninth against his former team, giving the Houston bullpen a total of 9 2/3 scoreless innings in this wild card series with three hits allowed.
Nobody on this Twins team has had a hand in more than six of the playoffs losses, but for the second straight year one of baseball’s most potent lineups limped through a brief postseason cameo. In a three-game Division Series sweep by the Yankees last year, the Twins totaled seven runs and 22 hits. Against the Astros, they mustered only two runs and seven hits.
Nelson Cruz gave the Twins an RBI double for a second straight game, this time in the fourth inning against starter Jose Urquidy. Luis Arraez aggressively tried to score from first base, but Correa took the throw from Tucker and fired home to beat Arraez to the plate to preserve the tie.
Then in the seventh against losing pitcher Cody Stashak, Correa drove a 1-0 slider into the tarp-covered seats above right-center field for his 12th home run in 52 playoff games.
Athletics 5, White Sox 3
Marcus Semien and Khris Davis homered early and the Oakland Athletics held off Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox in the late innings for a 5-3 win Wednesday that sent their AL playoff series to a deciding Game 3.
A’s reliever Jake Diekman walked home a run in the ninth, then retired the big-hitting Abreu on a sharp grounder to end it and even the best-of-three wild-card matchup at 1-all.
Game 3 is Thursday at the Coliseum.
Chris Bassitt allowed one run on six hits in seven-plus innings during an impressive postseason debut as the AL West champion A’s snapped a six-game postseason losing streak dating to 2013.
Things got interesting when Bassitt gave way to Liam Hendriks after a leadoff single to Tim Anderson in the eighth with a 5-0 lead. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer one out later.
Hendriks surrendered a pair of two-out singles in the ninth and walked Yoan Moncada to load the bases. Diekman relieved and walked Grandal to bring home a run.
Abreu, at the top of the list of AL MVP candidates, hit a hard grounder to second base as Diekman earned a tough save.
Oakland hit three consecutive one-out singles in the first against Dallas Keuchel and rookie second baseman Nick Madrigal’s fielding error allowed two runs to score.
Keuchel exited after 3 1/3 innings having allowed five runs — three earned — and six hits.
He couldn’t hold down the slugging A’s as Lucas Giolito did a day earlier taking a perfect game into the seventh inning of Chicago’s 4-1 Game 1 victory.
The White Sox haven’t won back-to-back road playoff games since getting six straight in 2005.
Rays 8, Blue Jays 2
Rays won a postseason series for the first time in 12 years, overpowering the young Toronto Blue Jays 8-2 Wednesday to finish a two-game sweep of their AL wild-card matchup.
Renfroe launched the first playoff grand slam in franchise history during a six-run second inning. Tyler Glasnow kept Tampa Bay ahead from there, allowing two runs — on a pair of homers by Danny Jansen — in six innings.
Mike Zunino hit a two-run homer off Blue Jays ace Hyun Jin Ryu during Tampa Bay’s big inning. Manuel Margot and Randy Arozarena also drove in runs as the Rays advanced to the AL Division series against either the New York Yankees or Cleveland Indians.
Glasnow, who walked one and struck out eight before a small gathering of family and friends who were allowed to attend the series at Tropicana Field.
Ryu was rocked for a season-high seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, the lefty’s shortest outing of the season for the wild-card Blue Jays.
The Rays, who won Game 1 with a nice mix of pitching, defense and timely hitting, had dropped five consecutive multigame postseason series dating to the 2008 World Series.
The Rays began the first inning with three straight hits and scored their first run on Manuel Margot’s one-out single. Ryu escaped a bases-loaded jam by striking out Willy Adames, however his outing got worse the next inning.
After Zunino’s homer made it 3-0, Tampa Bay loaded the bases again on a double, walk and shortstop Bo Bichette’s second error of the day.
Renfroe, obtained from San Diego in an offseason trade that sent Tommy Pham to the Padres, hit his grand slam into the left field seats to extend the lead to 7-0.
Yankees 10, Indians 9
DJ LeMahieu’s tiebreaking single in the ninth inning off Cleveland closer Brad Hand sent New York into the AL Division Series with a wild win in a rain-delayed Game 2 that started in September and ended in October.
At 4 hours, 50 minutes — even without the delays — it was the longest nine-inning game (regular season or postseason) in major league history.
LeMahieu, the AL batting champion during the shortened, 60-game regular season, grounded his hit into center field to score Gio Urshela, who hit a go-ahead grand slam earlier. Down 9-8, the Yankees tied it in the ninth on Gary Sanchez’s sacrifice fly off Hand, who went 16 of 16 on save tries during the season.
They’ll play rival Tampa Bay in a best-of-five ALDS in San Diego next week.
Aroldis Chapman got the last six outs for the Yankees, aided by a spectacular play from Urshela at third base to begin an inning-ending double play that kept it a one-run game in the eighth.
For the Indians, a season of adversity ends with more heartache. They twice rallied to tie the Yankees and took the lead in the eighth on Cesar Hernandez’s bloop RBI single off Chapman only to have Hand give it away.
Sanchez, benched in Game 1, had a two-run homer and Giancarlo Stanton connected on a solo shot for New York, which was down 4-0 in the first.
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