Athletics

Tame Tigers feel title hopes slipping away

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Tame Tigers feel title hopes slipping away

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DETROIT -- Prior to the game, Miguel Cabrera shared a table with Hank Aaron and commissioner Bud Selig. With a horde of hundreds of media members crowded around, Aaron, unquestionably one of the greatest ever to step into a batter's box, was effusive in his praise of Cabrera. As Aaron named the Tigers' third baseman the 2012 American League Hank Aaron Award winner for outstanding offensive performance, he pointed out that Cabrera did something that he himself was never able to do -- win the Triple Crown. "You did it, and you did it with poise, and you did it with grace," Aaron said. Hall of Famer Frank Robinson has won a Triple Crown. He was there too, and he handed baseball's first Triple Crown winner since 1967 a real crown, one befitting a king. Yet, hours after being heaped with praise, awards, and even bejeweled headgear, Cabrera could have cost himself a ring and a trophy. Then he ducked out unceremoniously by blowing off the media after a 2-0 loss to San Francisco in Game 3 of the World Series.RECAP: Giants claim 3-0 World Series lead
The Tigers have only scored one run against Giants starting pitchers in this series. They finally had a real chance to do some damage in the fifth inning. Down 2-0 with two outs, Cabrera stepped to the plate with the bases loaded against Ryan Vogelsong. With one swing of the bat he could have changed the game, and possibly the series. Instead, he fouled a two-seam fastball down the right field line. Then popped up a four-seam fastball to end the inning. As the ball landed safely in the shortstop's glove, Cabrera looked down in disgust and punched his helmet. At that moment Vogelsong was king of the hill.
"Obviously we're not going to talk about one atbat taking away from how great Miguel Cabrera is," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "We had other opportunities, we didn't get it done." He's right. The blame doesn't fall solely on Cabrera's shoulders. The Tigers had other chances. Vogelsong got Prince Fielder to ground into a inning-ending double play in the first, and got Quintin Berry to do the same in the third. Berry also struck out swinging with one out and the bases loaded before Cabrera came to the plate. "We know that it's crutch time, and it's a time that everyone wants to get the job done," Berry said. "We can't afford to fall any further behind. Everyone wants to come through we've been working so hard and everyone is pulling for one another."As journeyman pitcher Vogelsong hand delivered the Giants a 3-0 series lead, the Tigers were again left tipping their caps to San Francisco's starting pitching. They have successfully kept the Tigers from taking a lead all series long. San Francisco is now 9-1 when scoring first in this postseason and hasn't trailed in a game in their last 54 innings. "Well, obviously I thought we had Ryan on the ropes a couple times tonight," Leyland said."We couldn't get the killer hit or the killer blow."What the Giants pitchers are doing is downright historical. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time a team won the first three games of a World Series with starters allowing no more than one run was the 1937 Yankees. In two of those games the Giants brought a two-time Cy Young out of the bullpen in Tim Lincecum. It certainly looks and feels like an unbeatable combination at this point. "They've still got to throw the ball over the plate," Delmon Young said. "We're not seeing any new gyro pitches or anything. They are throwing the typical sinker, slider, change-up, curveball. It's just that they're hitting the glove and when we do get a pitch to drive we seem to miss it or get a leather-finder."No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win the World Series. Only one team in 32 chances has come back from such a deficit in a best of seven series -- the 2004 Red Sox.
Reality is starting to sink in for the Tigers players. "Everyone knows that we are kind of letting this one slip away," Berry said. "Guys are kind of down on themselves because we are used to playing way better than this. "We've worked so hard to be better than this, but things aren't going well. You can see it in everybody's faces." The Giants are speeding toward their second San Francisco championship like a cable car down California Street with no breaks and a crazy conductor shoving the lever to full throttle. The Tigers, well, they aren't going anywhere. They look like their wheels have come off. Maybe an emotional raw-raw, spit-flying-from-the-mouth, eyes-bulging pep talk will get the team headed in the right direction. "Well, you don't really have to tell them anything," Leyland said."They can count."Maybe not. "They're big guys, they know what the situation is, and they know we have to come out tomorrow and obviously win a game," Leyland explained. Because if they don't, the Giants will be the 108th World Series champions.

Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

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Vallejo-native, free agent-to-be Sabathia after Yankees loss: 'This is my home'

C.C. Sabathia couldn't save the Yankees' 2017 season. And now he has a decision to make.

After nine seasons in New York, the 37-year-old hits the free agent market this winter.

With career earnings nearing $250 million and a 2009 World Series ring already on his resume, would the Vallejo-native consider coming home to play for the A's? That's a question that was posed to NBCSportsBayArea.com Insider Joe Stiglich last week.

While it's a possibility, based on comments after Saturday's ALCS Game 7 loss to the Astros, it sounds like Sabathia doesn't want to leave The Bronx.

“I feel like this is a young team, and we will turn this into something great. This is my home, and I want to see this thing through," Sabathia told reporters, according to The Associated Press.

Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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Astros win two straight vs Yankees, advance to take on Dodgers in World Series

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HOUSTON -- Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers combined on a three-hitter, Jose Altuve and Evan Gattis homered and the Houston Astros reached the World Series, blanking the New York Yankees 4-0 Saturday night in Game 7 of the AL Championship Series.

Just four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees for two straight games after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

Next up for the Astros: Game 1 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday night. Los Angeles opened as a narrow favorite, but Houston aces Dallas Keuchel and ALCS MVP Justin Verlander will have plenty of rest before the matchup begins at Dodger Stadium.

Houston has never won even a single World Series game. The only previous time the Astros made it this far, they were a National League team when they were swept by the Chicago White Sox in 2005.

Now, manager A.J. Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first title, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

Houston improved to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and became the fifth team in major league history to win a seven-game postseason series by winning all four of its home games.

Morton bounced back from a loss in Game 3 to allow two hits over five scoreless innings. Starter-turned-postseason reliever McCullers limited the Yankees to just one hit while fanning six over the next four.

Combined, they throttled the wild-card Yankees one last time in Houston. Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and their New York teammates totaled just three runs in the four road games.

CC Sabathia entered the game 10-0 with a 1.69 ERA in 13 starts this season after a Yankees loss. But he struggled with command and was gone with one out in the fourth inning.

Houston was up 2-0 in fifth when former Yankees star Brian McCann came through for the second straight game by hitting a two-run double after snapping an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night.

The Yankees, trying to reach the World Series for the first time since 2009, lost an elimination game for the first time this season after winning their first four in these playoffs. New York struggled on the road this postseason, with this loss dropping the team to 1-6.

After going 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position through the first three innings, the Astros got on the board with no outs in the fourth with the 405-foot shot by Gattis off Sabathia which made it 1-0.

Altuve launched a ball off Tommy Kahnle into the seats in right field with one out in the fifth for his fifth homer this postseason. It took a while for him to see that it was going to get out, and held onto his bat until he was halfway to first base before flipping it and trotting around the bases as chants of "MVP" rained down on him.

Altuve finished 8 for 25 with two homers and four RBIs in the ALCS after hitting .533 with three homers and four RBIs in the ALDS against Boston.

Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel hit consecutive singles after that before Kahnle struck out Gattis. McCann's two-strike double, which rolled into the corner of right field, cleared the bases to push the lead to 4-0. Gurriel slid to avoid the tag and remained on his belly in a swimming pose at the plate for a few seconds after he was called safe.

It was just the second Game 7 in franchise history for the Astros, who dropped Game 7 to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS 13 years ago today.

Sabathia allowed five hits and one run while walking three in 3 1/3 innings. He wasn't nearly as sharp as he was in a Game 3 win and just 36 of the 65 pitches he threw were strikes.

Morton got into trouble in the fifth, and the Yankees had runners at the corners with one out. Bregman fielded a grounder hit by Todd Frazier and made a perfect throw home to allow McCann to tag Greg Bird and preserve Houston's lead. McCann held onto the ball despite Bird's cleat banging into his forearm. Chase Headley grounded out after that to end the inning.

A night after Springer kept Frazier from extra-bases with a leaping catch, Judge returned the favor on a ball hit by Yuli Gurriel. Judge sprinted, jumped and reached into the stands to grab his long fly ball before crashing into the wall and falling to the ground for the first out of the second inning.

Springer had another nifty catch in this one, jumping in front of Marwin Gonzalez at the wall in left-center to grab a ball hit by Bird for the first out of the seventh inning.