(The Sports Xchange) – Highlights of Saturday’s Major League Baseball playoff games:
Astros 2, Yankees 1
Carlos Correa delivered a walk-off double against Aroldis Chapman, salvaging a superb effort by Justin Verlander and giving Houston the win over visiting New York in Game Two of the American League Championship Series.
The Astros will take a 2-0 series lead to New York for Game Three at Yankee Stadium on Monday.
With Jose Altuve on first base following a one-out single, Correa lined a 3-2 fastball from Chapman (0-1) into the right-center field gap. Altuve rounded the bases and scored when Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge made his relay toss toward the middle of the infield. The subsequent throw home short-hopped catcher Gary Sanchez, allowing Altuve to score.
Altuve and Correa both recorded two hits, with Correa scoring once and driving in two runs.
Verlander (1-0) delivered a sparkling performance, working nine innings while allowing one run on five hits and one walk with 13 strikeouts. He threw 124 pitches, 93 for strikes, holding off the Yankees for as long as he could to give his offense a chance to rally.
Unusual plays helped net the first run for both teams, with the Astros striking first off New York right-hander Luis Severino with one out in the fourth inning.
Correa turned around a 99 mph fastball from Severino for an opposite-field home run to right field, just sneaking the ball over the outstretched glove of Judge. A young fan in the first row of the outfield seats deflected the ball into the stands, leading to a review of the play to determine if fan interference aided the Correa home run.
The call was upheld and the Astros secured a 1-0 lead, an advantage that was short-lived.
With two outs in the fifth, after striking out Greg Bird and Starlin Castro to open the inning, Verlander surrendered consecutive doubles to Aaron Hicks and Todd Frazier, the second which lodged between the padding and chain-linked fence fronting the visiting bullpen in left-center field.
Hicks scored on the Frazier ground-rule double but Verlander rallied to induce a Chase Headley fly ball to center to preserve the tie.
Dodgers 5, Cubs 2
Chris Taylor hit a go-ahead home run Saturday night and Charlie Culberson added an RBI and a run scored as the Los Angeles Dodgers opened the National League Championship Series with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs.
Kenley Jansen came on to get the final four outs for the save as the Dodgers used five relievers in support of starter Clayton Kershaw, who lasted five innings.
Kershaw gave up a two-run homer to Albert Almora Jr. in the fourth inning but nothing else despite some hard-hit balls by the Cubs. The left-hander gave up four hits with four strikeouts.
Culberson’s sacrifice fly in the fifth inning tied the score 2-2. He then followed a Yasiel Puig home run in the seventh inning with a double to left. He sprinted home on a Justin Turner single but appeared to get thrown out at home when catcher Willson Contreras applied the tag in time.
But on a replay challenge, Culberson was called safe.
Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected for arguing the replay reversal.
Cubs starter Jose Quintana, who had experienced an emotional few days, might have needed 22 pitches in a perfect first inning but was locked in early. Through four innings, Quintana had given up just one hit but had faced the minimum thanks to a double-play grounder from Austin Barnes.
The Cubs revealed the reason their family charter flight to Los Angeles was diverted to Albuquerque, N.M., early Friday morning was because of a medical condition with Quintana’s wife.
The flight continued after a five-hour delay and Maddon waited to officially name Quintana his Game 1 starter.
Quintana did not start showing cracks until the fifth inning when he issued back-to-back walks to Logan Forsythe and Austin Barnes. Puig followed with an RBI single to cut the early Cubs lead to 2-1.
One batter later, Culberson tied the score with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought home Barnes.
Kershaw was nowhere near as efficient as Quintana in the early going. He had a runner on base in three of the first four innings, running into trouble in the fourth when he gave up a line-drive single to Contreras and a two-run homer to Almora.
Kershaw gave up two runs and four hits with a walk and four strikeouts.