Baseball / MLB

Didi Gregorius grand slam powers Yankees to win

Kyodo, AP

Masahiro Tanaka held the visitors to a run over five innings on Saturday, while a grand slam from Didi Gregorius powered the New York Yankees to an 8-2 win over the Minnesota Twins for a two-game lead in the American League Division Series.

The Japanese starter scattered three hits while issuing a walk and striking out seven at Yankee Stadium to pick up his first win of the postseason.

“I went into the game smoothly,” Tanaka said. “I was a little nervous in the first inning, of course, but I settled down in the second. It was good that I was able to maintain constant control of my slider and splitter.”

Tanaka hit a batter and gave up a single in a shaky first before a double play ended the threat, but looked stellar apart from a scrape in the fourth when he yielded an RBI single to Mitch Garver.

His consistency also earned some post-game praise from Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

“He’s just really good at his craft,” Boone said. “He understands his body, his mechanics, can do a lot of things with the ball, obviously, and I thought today was pretty sharp.”

“I thought he threw some good splits. The slider was a real factor for him. I saw him elevate the heater a little bit at times when he needed to and gave us just what we needed and really set a good tone for us to send us off to Minnesota in a good position.”

Gregorius highlighted a seven-run third for New York with a grand slam off Tyler Duffey, who replaced Randy Dobnak after the Twins starter loaded the bases on two hits and a walk.

Giancarlo Stanton opened the rally with a sacrifice fly, and Gregorius launched his slam in between run-scoring singles from Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner.

Astros 3, Rays 1

In Houston, Gerrit Cole carried his splendid September into an outstanding October with a 15-strikeout performance and Alex Bregman handed fans chanting MVP the mighty swing they craved. The Astros survived a wild ninth inning to beat Tampa Bay for a 2-0 lead in their AL Division Series.

Houston is one win from reaching the AL Championship Series for the third straight year.

Cole, 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA in six starts last month, set an Astros postseason strikeouts record over 7⅔ scoreless innings to win his franchise-record 17th straight decision. The strikeouts tied for third-most in a postseason game, behind only Bob Gibson’s 17 in the 1968 World Series and Kevin Brown’s 16 in a 1998 NL Division Series.