Last week, CC Sabathia pitched well in a decisive ALDS Game 5 win over the Indians. He had even more in store Monday in what was essentially another must-win game.
Sabathia spun six shutout innings against the Astros and the Yankees’ offense put eight runs on the board as New York won Game 3 of the ALCS 8-1. The veteran left-hander was excellent, holding the powerful Houston offense at bay with just three hits allowed – all singles – while recording five strikeouts. Sabathia did walk four batters, but he was able to pitch around a bit of wildness, throwing 99 pitches over his six frames.
At 37 years of age, Sabathia became the oldest pitcher to throw at least six shutout innings in a playoff start since Pedro Martinez did it with the Phillies in 2009. In three starts so far this postseason, the big left-hander has put up a 2.30 ERA and 1.15 WHIP while striking out 19 batters across 15 2/3 innings of work.
On the offensive side of things, the Bronx Bombers got three-run home runs from both Todd Frazier and Aaron Judge. Frazier’s blast in the second inning wouldn’t have left the yard in any other park, but it counts all the same.
Judge, meanwhile, entered the night hitting only .129/.270/.258 with 19 strikeouts this postseason and struck out for the 20th time when he went down swinging on three pitches in his first plate appearance. However, he drew a walk in his second trip to the dish and in his third lined one over the left-field wall to break the game open. The soon-to-be American League Rookie of the Year and possible MVP also had a couple nice plays in the field, including one in which he made a running, jumping catch on the warning track before crashing hard into the outfield wall.
The Yankees will send Sonny Gray to the hill on Tuesday in Game 4 as they look to even the series. Gray will be pitching on 11 days’ rest, as he got knocked around for three runs while walking four over 3 1/3 frames in the ALDS Game 1 loss to the Indians. Gray also struggled in two of his last three starts of the regular season.
Speaking of struggling, Astros manager A.J. Hinch made a somewhat surprising call in naming Lance McCullers his Game 4 starter over Brad Peacock. McCullers has dealt with some injuries the last few months and hasn’t had a quality start since June 8. Yes, it’s been over four months. Of course, we all know McCullers has the capability of shutting the opposition down if he’s on, and Hinch has decided to roll the dice with his young right-hander.
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Seager Not Traveling
Corey Seager is doing better, but don’t expect to see him anytime soon.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Sunday that the shortstop “feels considerably better” and “'normal-ish'” after receiving an epidural injection to combat a sprained lower back. However, Seager did not travel with the Dodgers to Chicago prior to Game 3 of the NLCS. He hasn’t done any baseball activities since he injured his back on a slide during last Monday’s NLCS clincher versus the Diamondbacks.
There had been some speculation that the Dodgers could add Seager to their NLCS roster at some point during the series, which would require them removing another player due to injury (and making that player ineligible to return for the World Series). Now, though, things seem to be trending toward Seager not coming back until the World Series, if he does at all.
“I don’t see it happening right now. He hasn’t done anything baseball specific,” Roberts said when asked if Seager could be back during the NLCS. “We’ve got to get him in a place where physically he feels like he can play in a major league game and endure those conditions as far as weather, to be able to come back after a game and to play the next day. So right now I wouldn’t say that we’re close to that point yet.”
Charlie Culberson has been filling in at shortstop for Seager and has certainly held his own at the plate, going 2-for-5 with two doubles, an RBI and a pair of runs scored.
Quick Hits: Luis Severino (shoulder, wrist) didn’t need any further testing and is in line to start a potential ALCS Game 6 … Former Tigers manager Brad Ausmus interviewed for the Red Sox' manager job on Monday. Astros bench coach Alex Cora and Diamondbacks bench coach Ron Gardenhire are other known candidates for Boston’s opening, with Cora looking like the heavy favorite at the moment … Mets hitting coach Kevin Long is the only person who has interviewed for the team’s managerial opening so far, and ESPN’s Buster Olney says Long is the early favorite to land the job. However, Cora will interview on Tuesday, White Sox bench coach Joe McEwing will interview Wednesday and former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta will interview later this week … Reds president of baseball operations and general manager Dick Williams told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he plans to keep in touch with impending free agent Zack Cozart to "see if there’s something that can be worked out there" …