Red Sox

ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

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ALCS: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees 7-1 to force Game 7

HOUSTON -  Justin Verlander remained perfect with Houston, pitching seven shutout innings when the team needed him most, and Jose Altuve homered and drove in three runs as the Astros extended the AL Championship Series to a decisive Game 7 with a 7-1 win over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

Acquired in an Aug. 31 trade, Verlander has won all nine outings with the Astros. And with his new club facing elimination in Game 6 against the Yankees, he delivered again.

After striking out 13 in a complete-game victory in Game 2, Verlander threw another gem. The right-hander scattered five hits and struck out eight to improve to 9-0 with 67 strikeouts since being traded from Detroit. George Springer helped him out of a jam in the seventh, leaping to make a catch at the center-field wall and rob Todd Frazier of extra bases with two on and Houston up 3-0.

Game 7 is Saturday night in Houston, with the winner advancing to the World Series against the NL champion Los Angeles Dodgers.

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Red Sox continue best-ever start with 9-0 win over Angels

Red Sox continue best-ever start with 9-0 win over Angels

Rafael Devers hit his first career grand slam, Rick Porcello threw six scoreless innings and the Boston Red Sox extended their best start in franchise history with a 9-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.

Mitch Moreland had four RBIs, including a two-run homer in the ninth, and J.D Martinez hit a solo shot in the seventh to help the Red Sox to their sixth consecutive win. Boston is 15-1 since losing on opening day.

Devers hit a home run for the second game in a row, putting his third of the season off the wall in right field just over the yellow line to make it 6-0 after Moreland singled to score Mookie Betts.

After getting out of an early jam in the first, Porcello (4-0) cruised to his league-leading fourth win. He gave up six hits and struck out six without issuing a walk.

Tyler Skaggs (2-1) gave up six runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings for the Angels, who have lost two straight following a seven-game winning streak.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first. Hanley Ramirez doubled to center, with the ball landing just past a leaping Mike Trout, and Moreland drove him in with a single to right.

Porcello struck out Kole Calhoun and Zack Cozart to escape trouble in the first after Albert Pujols loaded the bases on a single to center with one out.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Red Sox: SS Xander Bogaerts (ankle) took ground balls during batting practice, but manager Alex Cora said "there's no rush" to bring him back. . RHP Steven Wright(knee) will start at Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday. . LHP Bobby Poyner (hamstring) will be sent out on a rehab assignment soon, with weather likely determining where he will go.

Angels: Shohei Ohtani is expected to make his next start after being limited to two innings Tuesday because of a blister on the middle finger of his right hand. Ohtani will be available to hit against the Red Sox on Thursday. . RHP JC Ramirez underwent surgery to repair a torn UCL on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0, 3.72) gave up one run in six innings against Baltimore on Friday. Rodriguez's only career start at Angel Stadium was a brief one, giving up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings in 2015.

Angels: RHP Nick Tropeano (1-0, 0.00) held Kansas City scoreless in 6 2/3 innings to get the win Thursday. Tropeano has never faced the Red Sox.

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Red Sox' refusal to trade Mookie Betts for Giancarlo Stanton, or anyone, only looks better

Red Sox' refusal to trade Mookie Betts for Giancarlo Stanton, or anyone, only looks better

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Giancarlo Stanton strikes out in his sleep while Mookie Betts has been the best hitter in baseball. On Wednesday, of all days, there’s absolutely no one in Red Sox camp who’s going to look back with regret on the little bit of history revealed by a former Marlins executive. (And no regret is going to crop up in the future either, barring something very strange.)

David Samson, former president of the Marlins, told CBS Sports that when Betts was a rising prospect in the minors, the Marlins tried to land him by dangling Hanley Ramirez — and even Stanton himself. The Red Sox looked at Betts as untouchable, and for some of the mistakes that were made under former general manager Ben Cherington’s watch, keeping prospects like Betts out of trades may have been his greatest strength.

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The Marlins, surely, aren’t the only ones who tried to pry Betts away from the Sox. Teams inquire about great talents all the time. But Betts is a much more well-rounded player. Stanton has struck out in 38.7 percent of plate appearances this season (29 in 75 trips), compared to just 9 percent for Betts (six in 67 trips).

Betts is hitting .389 with a .493 on-base percentage and .796 slugging percentage. Per one measurement that encompasses a hitter’s offensive production, weighted runs created plus (wRC+), Betts has been the top hitter across the majors. He has five home runs, three of which came Tuesday against the Angels.

One thing Betts is doing more of in 2018: pulling the ball, as noted by FanGraphs.

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