Phillies

MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman out as Yankees closer after rough stretch

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MLB Notes: Aroldis Chapman out as Yankees closer after rough stretch

BOSTON -- Aroldis Chapman is out as the New York Yankees closer.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said before Saturday night's game with the Boston Red Sox that the hard throwing lefty, who gave up two runs in a non-save appearance in Friday's 9-6 loss to Boston, is being taken out of that role to work through some location issues.

Chapman will be used "at any point" for now, Girardi said, though he stopped short of naming his replacement. Instead, Dellin Betances and David Robertson will be used based on the situation, to allow flexibility.

Chapman has given up at least two runs in each of his last three outings.

Girardi said an injury has been ruled out as a culprit for Chapman's recent issues, and that told him he was willing to do "whatever it takes" for the team to win (see full story).

Dodgers: Yu Darvish goes on DL with lower back tightness
DETROIT -- Yu Darvish has been placed on the 10-day disabled list after just three starts for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The team said Saturday that Darvish has lower back tightness, which he first noticed after a recent start in Arizona and mentioned again after making his Dodger Stadium debut last Wednesday. He didn't figure in the decision, a 5-4 win over the White Sox, in which he gave up three home runs while striking out a season-low two and walking one.

The Japanese right-hander is 2-0 with a 2.50 ERA in three starts with Los Angeles since being acquired from Texas in a trade deadline deal on July 31. Overall, he's 8-9 with a 3.83 ERA in 25 combined starts with the two teams.

The Dodgers are in Detroit for a three-game series that ends Sunday (see full story).

MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive' treatment
Major League Baseball umpires are wearing white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

The World Umpires Association announced the action, saying the union strongly objected to the response by the commissioner's office. Kinsler said this week that Hernandez was a bad umpire and "just needs to go away."

Crew chiefs Joe West, Gerry Davis and Bill Miller wore the wristbands in the first games of the day. Most other umpires also had them.

MLB said it had no comment on the union's statement.

West is the most senior umpire in the majors. Earlier this month, he was suspended three games by MLB for comments he made about Texas star Adrian Beltre being the biggest complainer in the game. West said he was joking, and Beltre said he knew the umpire was kidding (see full story).

Braves: Matt Kemp returns from hamstring injury following 19-game absence
ATLANTA -- Braves left fielder Matt Kemp is the lineup batting cleanup after getting reinstated from the disabled list.

Kemp missed 19 games with a right hamstring strain and was sidelined for nine games with the same injury in April. He was cleared to play Saturday against Cincinnati after passing a series of tests over the last few days.

Kemp is hitting .290 with 14 homers and 48 RBIs in 88 games. The slugger has been on the disabled list with hamstring injuries five times in his 11-year career.

"Sometimes you think you're ready and you're not, but I gave it a little bit of extra time," he said. "Hopefully I can continue to play for the rest of the season."

The Braves optioned utility man Micah Johnson to Triple-A Gwinnett and recalled Matt Wisler after reliever Luke Jackson was placed on the disabled list with a right shoulder strain (see full story).

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

BOX SCORE

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

BOX SCORE

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.