Chris Sale

MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

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MLB Playoffs: Jose Altuve blasts 3 HRs as Astros cruise past Red Sox

HOUSTON -- Jose Altuve had just arrived in the Astros dugout after launching his third home run of the game when George Springer grabbed his right biceps and examined it, as if searching for an explanation for his teammate's extraordinary pop.

"He makes sure he stays on top of his gym routine, whatever it is," Springer said. "The dude is just a joke."

The major league batting champion put on an unprecedented show of power Thursday as Houston roughed up Chris Sale and the Boston Red Sox 8-2 in Game 1 of the AL Division Series.

Buoyed by chants of "MVP" in each trip to the plate, the 5-foot-6 Altuve hit solo homers in the first and fifth innings off Sale. He connected again in the seventh off reliever Austin Maddox to give Houston a quick boost in the best-of-five series.

"As soon as I cross the white line, I feel the same size as everyone else," Altuve said.

It was just the 10th time a player hit three homers in a postseason game, and first since Pablo Sandoval for the Giants in the 2012 World Series opener against Detroit. Babe Ruth did it twice (see full recap).

Bauer helps Indians blank Yankees in Game 1
CLEVELAND -- Trevor Bauer made Aaron Judge look silly, and made his manager look like a genius.

One year after nearly costing the Indians a trip to the World Series, Bauer helped them take the first step back.

Named a surprise starter for Game 1, Bauer chopped Judge and New York's other big bats down to size, and Jay Bruce drove in three runs as Cleveland began chasing its first World Series title in 69 years with a 4-0 win over the Yankees on the Thursday night in the opener of the AL Division Series.

Bauer struck out Judge three times , twice getting the MVP candidate looking. He allowed just two hits in 6 2-3 innings before manager Terry Francona, who chose to start the right-hander over ace Corey Kluber, turned to baseball's best bullpen, using Andrew Miller and closer Cody Allen to finish the three-hitter.

Allen came in with two on and two outs in the eighth to face Judge, who struck out for the fourth time and the rookie angrily snatched at his bat frustration. Allen then worked the ninth for a save.

Judge's verdict on Bauer was unanimous in New York's clubhouse.

"He was mixing his pitches well, he was using the corners extremely well," he said. "You've got to tip your cap sometimes. We've just got to pick ourselves up and get ready for tomorrow" (see full recap).

Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

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Best of MLB: Red Sox's Sale reaches 300 Ks; Marlins' Stanton hits 56th HR

BALTIMORE -- Chris Sale was at his very best -- right down to his momentous last pitch -- in another meaningful victory for the Boston Red Sox.

Sale struck out 13 to become the first AL pitcher in 18 years to reach the 300 mark, and Boston moved to the brink of clinching a playoff berth by beating the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 on Wednesday night.

Sale (17-7) reached the milestone on his 111th and final pitch, a called third strike against Ryan Flaherty to end the eighth inning. The last AL pitcher to fan 300 batters in a season was Boston's Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he set a club record with 313.

Red Sox manager John Farrell sent Sale back out for the eighth inning to give him a shot at getting No. 300 (see full recap).

Stanton hits 56th homer, Marlins sweep Mets
MIAMI -- Home runs before small crowds in the eighth inning of lopsided games between also-rans count, too, which is fortunate for Giancarlo Stanton.

Now he needs only five more for 61.

Stanton hit his major league-leading 56th homer in the eighth Wednesday to punctuate the Miami Marlins' 9-2 win over the New York Mets, which completed a three-game sweep.

Announced attendance was 16,033, but the actual turnout was perhaps one-third that total. The Marlins are destined to miss the playoffs for the 14th year in a row despite Stanton's homer show (see full recap).

Rays, Snell end Cubs' 7-game winning streak
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Their seven-game winning streak is over and the Chicago Cubs are still being challenged for the NL Central lead with 11 games left in the season.

Blake Snell gave up two hits in seven shutout innings and the Tampa Bay Rays ended the Cubs' season-best winning streak 8-1 on Wednesday night.

The Cubs, who had not lost since being swept by the Milwaukee Brewers in a three-game series in Chicago on Sept. 8-10, are scheduled to open a four-game series in Milwaukee on Thursday night, holding a 3 1/2-game lead over the Brewers.

"It's going to be very exciting," manager Joe Maddon said. "We got the split here, which is good. Moving it forward, you've got to beat ‘em straight-up sometimes and that's what we're going to have to do,” (see full recap).

Nationals rally for 6 runs in 8th to beat Braves
ATLANTA -- Manager Dusty Baker was hardly surprised that the heart of the Nationals' order took so many pitches in the eighth inning.

"It's easy to be patient when they're not near the strike zone," he said. "We capitalized on it. You're going to get hits after that."

Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino issued three bases-loaded walks in the six-run eighth, Gio Gonzalez pitched seven strong innings and Washington beat Atlanta 7-3 on Wednesday night (see full recap).

MLB All-Star Game lineups: Chris Sale, Max Scherzer get starting nods

MLB All-Star Game lineups: Chris Sale, Max Scherzer get starting nods

MIAMI — Chris Sale will become the first pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts representing different teams.

The Boston Red Sox ace will start Tuesday night's game for the American League, and Washington's Max Scherzer will open for the National League.

Then with the Chicago White Sox, Sale pitched the first inning of last year's game at San Diego and allowed a two-out home run to Kris Bryant. Sale was traded in December for top prospects.

Sale will be the 16th pitcher to make consecutive All-Star starts, the first since Arizona's Randy Johnson in 2000-01 and the first in the AL since Toronto's Dave Stieb in 1983-84. Born in Lakeland, which is about 240 miles northwest of Miami, Sale is 11-4 with a 2.75 ERA and a major league-leading 178 strikeouts in 127 2/3 innings.

Scherzer also will be making his second All-Star start. Then with Detroit, he pitched a perfect inning at New York's Citi Field in 2013, when Sale followed with a pair of 1-2-3 innings and got the win. Scherzer will be the fifth pitcher to start All-Star Games for both leagues, following Vida Blue, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay and Johnson. Scherzer is 10-5 with a 2.10 ERA and 173 strikeouts.

Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, 14-2 with a 2.18 ERA, is ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game because he started Sunday.

NL manager Joe Maddon's batting order:

1. Charlie Blackmon, CF
2. Giancarlo Stanton, DH
3. Bryce Harper, RF
4. Buster Posey, C
5. Daniel Murphy, 2B
6. Nolan Arenado, 3B
7. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B
8. Marcell Ozuna, LF
9. Zack Cozart, SS

Max Scherzer, P

And for the AL:

1. Jose Altuve, 2B
2. Jose Ramirez, 3B
3. Aaron Judge, RF
4. George Springer, LF
5. Carlos Correa, SS
6. Justin Smoak, 1B
7. Corey Dickerson, DH
8. Salvador Perez, C
9. Mookie Betts, CF

Chris Sale, P