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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Stories by Larry Brown:

Charlie Morton to start Game 7 of ALCS for Astros

Minute Maid Park Houston

It will come down to Charlie Morton against CC Sabathia in Game 7 of the ALCS Saturday with a trip to the World Series on the line.

Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch announced after his team’s 7-1 win over the New York Yankees in Game 6 that Morton will start Game 7 for the team.

According to what was said on FS1’s telecast during Game 6, Houston had three options for Game 7. They considered Brad Peacock, Lance McCullers and Morton.

Peacock pitched in relief on Friday. McCullers will only have three days of rest between starts for Game 7 on Saturday. That made Morton the best candidate of the group.

Morton went 4.1 innings of two-run ball in the Astros’ series-clinching Game 4 win over the Red Sox in the ALDS. He was hit hard in the team’s Game 3 ALCS loss to the Yankees, as he allowed seven runs over 3.2 innings. Hinch is clearly hoping Morton will give them more in Game 7.

You can bet Hinch will have a quick hook in Game 7 as Houston will have all their pitchers available. Hinch may even check in on Verlander to see if he can pitch an inning or two if needed.

Whichever team that wins the game will have two full days of rest before Game 1 of the World Series, which will be helpful to pitching staffs that could become overworked.

Jose Altuve: ‘I literally love Justin Verlander’

Jose Altuve

Jose Altuve was not shy in expressing his fondness towards Justin Verlander during an interview after Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday.

The Houston Astros’ superstar was clutch again for his team as he went 2-for-4 with a team-high three RBIs in a 7-1 win to force Game 7. Verlander was similarly awesome, as he pitched seven scoreless innings for the win.

After the game, Altuve talked with FS1’s Tom Verducci and was asked about Verlander’s postseason excellence. That’s when Altuve let out a great quote.

“I literally love Justin Verlander,” Altuve told Verducci. “The way he goes out there makes me feel like I have to go out there and play the same way that he is doing. I know he’s going out there and doing everything he can to win this game. So everybody in the lineup wants to support him and score runs for him because we know the kind of guy he is.”

This is clearly a classic case of one superstar inspiring another to elevate his game. And it’s tough to say between the two who’s stood out more in the postseason, because both have been outstanding. Altuve led the AL in hits for the fourth year in a row and won his third batting title in the last four years, plus he’s the likely AL MVP. He’s batting .405 with four home runs in the playoffs. Verlander went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA after joining Houston in the regular season, and he’s 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in the playoffs this year.

If you like the Astros, how could you not love Verlander?

Devin Booker takes nasty spill, stays in game (Video)

Devin Booker back

Devin Booker showed some serious toughness during the Phoenix Suns’ game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, though he’s probably going to have a nasty bruise to show for his troubles.

Booker took a pass in the second quarter and went hard to the basket. He was fouled by Brook Lopez after going airborne and landed hard on his back.

Booker’s teammates came around him as he was on the ground, and he started walking over to the team’s bench. But Booker stayed in and went 1-for-2 on free throws. A minute later he made a 3-pointer.

The 2015 first-round pick is probably the brightest spot on the emerging Suns team, so losing him in the first game of the season would have been awful. Luckily Booker was able to shake it off.

Draymond Green gets technical foul for pushing DeMarcus Cousins (Video)

Draymond Green DeMarcus Cousins

Two of the biggest personalities in the NBA played against each other on Friday night, and it’s no surprise that they clashed.

DeMarcus Cousins and Draymond Green got a little physical during the second quarter of the Golden State Warriors-New Orleans Pelicans game. Green ended up getting called for a technical foul after shoving Cousins:

The two later exchanged words, with Cousins appearing to warn Green to watch what he was saying.

Cousins has a shorter fuse than Green, so it’s somewhat surprising that he got the best of Green in that case.

Justin Verlander has been money in elimination games

Justin Verlander

There are few pitchers you’d rather have on the mound when facing elimination in the playoffs than Justin Verlander.

Verlander ran his scoreless innings streak during playoff elimination games to 24 after shutting out the New York Yankees for seven innings during Game 6 of the ALCS on Friday night.

The Houston Astros’ right-handed pitcher entered Game 6 having thrown 17 straight scoreless innings in elimination games.

In Game 5 of the 2012 ALDS against the Oakland A’s, Verlander pitched a complete game four-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts in a 6-0 win to help his Tigers advance. The following year, Verlander was just as good as he shutout the A’s for eight innings and struck out 10 allowing two hits in an ALDS Game 5 win.

This year, Verlander went seven scoreless allowing five hits while striking out eight against the Yanks. He joined some good company with his third scoreless effort in an elimination game during the playoffs.

Marshawn Lynch appeals one-game suspension

Marshawn Lynch referee

Marshawn Lynch has appealed the one-game suspension he received from the league office on Friday, according to a report.

The NFL announced on Friday that Lynch had been suspended one game without pay for his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty during the Raiders’ Thursday night game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Lynch ran onto the field from the sidelines during a skirmish between the two sides and shoved an official. Making contact with an official is prohibited.

Players have three business days to appeal a suspension should they choose to exercise that right. ESPN’s Adam Schefter says Lynch already has done so.

Former NFL players Derrick Brooks or James Thrash are the ones who hear suspension appeals.

Lynch is having a poor season for the Raiders and has hardly made an impact. Acquired by the team after taking off the 2016 season, Lynch has just 266 rushing yards on 72 carries, which is 3.7 average — his lowest since 2010.

No. 1 QB recruit Justin Fields out for season with broken finger

Justin Fields

The nation’s No. 1 quarterback recruit is done for the season after suffering a broken index finger on his throwing hand.

Justin Fields, who committed to Georgia earlier this month, broke his right index finger during Harrison’s game against Dalton on Thursday. He is likely to undergo surgery for the injury. The operation plus recovery time is expected to keep him out 12 weeks, his dad told Dawg Nation.

Fields, a senior, is unsure what he will do for the remainder of the year. He could choose to enroll early at Georgia, or he could play baseball for Harrison in the spring.

MaxPreps had Fields as throwing 17 touchdowns compared to two interceptions for Harrison this season, though that was only through the team’s Oct. 6 game. He also had rushed for 12 touchdowns in the first six games.

Vikings TE Kyle Rudolph to wear Undertaker-inspired cleats

Kyle Rudolph

Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is getting in the wrestling spirit ahead of Sunday’s WWE TLC event in Minneapolis.

Rudolph will be wearing some Undertaker-inspired cleats for his team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens. Artist Mache posted a video on Instagram of him custom painting a portrait of the popular wrestler on some cleats:

WWE’s website says Rudolph asked for the cleats because he knew the WWE event would be taking place at Target Center later that night.

Rudolph isn’t the first NFL player to wear wrestling-inspired cleats this season. Two Atlanta Falcons players wore Ric Flair cleats earlier this month.

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