Phillies

Mariano Rivera steals show in last All-Star Game

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Mariano Rivera steals show in last All-Star Game

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NEW YORK – The 84th All-Star Game was played Tuesday night in New York City, in the borough of Queens.

But the script came straight out of Hollywood.

That much was undeniable as the American League shut out the National League, 3-0, with New York baseball legend Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in the history of the game, coming out of the bullpen and getting three outs in his final All-Star Game.

The 43-year-old right-hander, a 13-time All-Star who will retire at season’s end, pitched the bottom of the eighth inning and was named the game’s MVP.

Rivera, whose 638 saves are the most ever, jogged onto the field with his familiar entry song, Metallica’s "Enter Sandman," blaring over the stadium loud speakers.

When Rivera reached the mound, he looked around and saw he was the only man on the field. His AL teammates waited in the dugout so Rivera could have the spotlight.

“We came up with that before the game,” AL outfielder Torii Hunter said. “We wanted him to get his due, to have him tip his hat. He’s a great guy. He’s done his job and never complained. We respect him. That’s what you do for a guy like that.”

As flashbulbs popped, Rivera lifted his cap to the crowd of 45,186 -- the largest ever at the ballpark -- and was saluted with a standing ovation. His AL teammates came out in front of the dugout and tipped their caps to him before taking the field.

Rivera was clearly moved by his teammates’ gesture. He did not know it was coming.

“The whole thing was amazing,” he said. “I have no words for it. It’s been a wonderful night. The only thing that will top this is the World Series.”

It was an All-Star sendoff reminiscent of the one Cal Ripken Jr. received in Seattle in 2001. In that game, Alex Rodriguez, the AL shortstop, moved to third base before the game’s first pitch so Ripken could get one more moment at shortstop, his original position in the major leagues.

Rivera pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning, threw 16 pitches, and got the hold. The save went to Joe Nathan. AL manager Jim Leyland went to Rivera in the eighth because he didn’t want to risk the NL rallying against a different pitcher in the inning and eliminating the need for the bottom of the ninth inning.

It turned out to be a memorable moment for everyone.

With the victory, the AL gained home-field advantage in the World Series, no small matter considering the team with home-field advantage has won 25 of 32 World Series since 1980.

It was not a particularly good night for the Phillies’ representatives. Not only were Domonic Brown and Cliff Lee on the losing side, but neither performed well. Lee pitched an inning and gave up two hits and a run. Down 2-0 with a man on base in the seventh inning, Brown struck out on three pitches against Toronto lefty Brett Cecil (see story).

In the top of the eighth inning, with two outs, Brown appeared to misplay a ball off the bat of Jason Kipnis and it went for an RBI double.

Matt Harvey was the no-brainer starting pitcher in this game. The 24-year-old right-hander earned the assignment by going 7-2 with a 2.35 ERA and an NL-best 147 strikeouts before the break. While performance was the primary reason for Harvey’s selection as starter, there was an understandable sentimental reason: The All-Star Game was back at the home of the New York Mets for the first time since Johnny Callison won it for the NL in 1964. Harvey, of course, is the Golden Boy of the Mets and their future.

“People who haven’t seen him yet are going to see something pretty special,” Mets manager Terry Collins, a member of the NL coaching staff, said on Monday.

Harvey, who can heat his fastball up to triple digits, had some jitters early. Mike Trout, the pride of Millville, N.J., hit the first pitch of the game, a 97-mph heater, down the right-field line for a double. Harvey then plunked Robinson Cano of the cross-city Yankees on the right quadriceps muscle with a 96-mph fastball. Harvey settled down and got out of the inning on two strikeouts and a fly ball.

Cano was able to take first base after being hit on the right leg, but he left the game shortly after. As he walked across the diamond to the AL dugout, he looked at Harvey, who patted his chest as if to apologize and say, “My bad.” An X-ray on Cano’s leg was negative. Players always go home with a boatload of souvenirs from the All-Star Game. Cano’s souvenir was black and blue.

“Obviously that was the last thing I wanted to do -- to go out there and injure someone,” Harvey said afterward. “I think he understood it wasn’t intentional. I apologize.”

Harvey pitched two innings and allowed just the one hit while striking out three.

Phillies fans know all about Harvey. He has beaten the Phils twice this season, allowing just five hits and one run, while striking out 15 and walking just three in 13 innings. Harvey is scheduled to face the Phillies and Lee on Sunday at Citi Field.

Max Scherzer, the AL starter and 13-game winner from the Detroit Tigers, pitched just one perfect inning and threw 12 pitches.

The AL used 10 pitchers to complete the three-hit shutout.

But the night belonged to one pitcher -- Mariano Rivera.

Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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Astros reach World Series, shut out Yankees in ALCS Game 7

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HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve embraced Justin Verlander as confetti rained down. An improbable thought just a few years ago, the Houston Astros are headed to the World Series.

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

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

"I love our personality," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We have the right amount of fun, the right amount of seriousness, the right amount of perspective when we need it. This is a very, very unique group. To win 100 games and still be hungry is pretty remarkable."

The Astros will try for their first World Series title, thanks in large part to Altuve, the diminutive second baseman who swings a potent bat, and Verlander, who switched teams for the first time in his career to chase a ring.

Four years removed from their third straight 100-loss season in 2013, the Astros shut down the Yankees on consecutive nights after dropping three in a row in the Bronx.

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.

Hinch's club has a chance to win that elusive first crown, while trying to boost a region still recovering from Hurricane Harvey.

"This city, they deserve this," McCullers said.

Clutch defensive plays by third baseman Alex Bregman and center fielder George Springer helped Houston improve to 6-0 at Minute Maid Park in these playoffs and become the fifth team in major league history to capture 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. A noted curveballer, McCullers finished up with 24 straight breaking pitches to earn his first major league save.

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.

"I know people are going to talk about how we didn't win many games on the road. There were some other teams that haven't won many games on the road, either. We just happened to run into a very good team that just beat us," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The Astros also eliminated New York in the 2015 postseason, with Keuchel winning the AL wild-card game at Yankee Stadium.

CC Sabathia entered 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. He snapped an 0-for-20 skid with an ground-rule RBI double to give Houston its first run on Friday night in a 7-1 win.

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 went 1-6 on the road this postseason.

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.

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 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 lost to the Cardinals in the 2004 NLCS exactly 13 years earlier.

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.

With McCullers in charge, the Astros soon closed it out.

"It's not easy to get here. And I don't take any of this for granted. And this is what we play for," Verlander said. "These are the experiences that you remember at the end of your career when you look back, winning these games, just playing the World Series. Hopefully winning the World Series."

MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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MLB Playoffs: Verlander, Astros beat Yankees to force Game 7 in ALCS

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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.