Baseball: Astros stay alive with 7-1 win over Yankees

New York Yankees’ Didi Gregorius leaps to catch a ball thrown in from the outfield as Houston Astros’ Carlos Beltran is safe at second with a double during the American League Championship Series. (AP)
Updated 21 October 2017
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Baseball: Astros stay alive with 7-1 win over Yankees

LOS ANGELES: The Houston Astros kept their hopes of a World Series berth alive Friday, beating the New York Yankees 7-1 to level the American League Championship Series at three games apiece.
Houston ace Justin Verlander pitched another post-season gem and the Houston offense came alive at home after the Astros dropped three straight games in New York.
Verlander threw seven scoreless innings for the Astros, allowing five hits with one walk and eight strikeouts.
He extended his streak of consecutive scoreless innings in elimination games to 24 and passed Hall of Famer Randy Johnson for sixth place on the career post-season strikeouts list.
Verlander now has 134 career playoff strikeouts to the 132 Johnson recorded over 121 post-season innings.
Brian McCann and Jose Altuve drove in runs in a three-run fifth inning for the Astros that chased Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino.
Altuve added a solo home run, his fourth of these playoffs, to lead off the eighth — when the Astros added four more runs.
Before the Astros stretched their lead, Verlander had worked out of trouble in the sixth and seventh, leaving two Yankees baserunners stranded in the sixth and notching his eighth strikeout in the seventh in a 10-pitch duel with Aaron Hicks.
Verlander was clearly tiring in the seventh. After his battle with Hicks, New York’s Todd Frazier sent a fly ball to deep center field, but George Springer leapt for the catch and Chase Headley then grounded out on Verlander’s final pitch of the night.
“Those things are game-changers,” Verlander said of defensive plays like Springer’s. “These guys make it a lot easier for me to go out and trust my stuff.”
The Astros will host game seven on Saturday.
The winner of the series takes on the National League champion Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series starting on Tuesday in Los Angeles.
“I know both teams are going to go out and leave everything they have because this (will be) the last game for the one that loses the game,” Altuve said of the looming game seven.
While Verlander allowed a hit in each of his first three innings, Severino kept the Astros without a hit until Carlos Correa lined a two-out single to right center field in the bottom of the fourth.
Severino escaped the inning, but the Astros soon had his number and were able to produce runs in support of Verlander.
“Severino was going really good early,” Verlander said. “You just knew it was going to be one of those ballgames where the first person to blink was likely going to come up a loser.”
In the top of the eighth, Aaron Judge’s towering home run off Astros relief pitcher Brad Peacock trimmed Houston’s lead to 3-1.
But fears that Houston’s bullpen wouldn’t be able to maintain after Verlander’s departure proved unfounded.
“Nothing is over yet,” Altuve cautioned. “Not for the Yankees, not for us. We’ve got to go out there and play the game tomorrow.”


Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

Updated 13 min 27 sec ago
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Meet the Saudi Arabian businessman shaping squash’s Olympic dream

LONDON: A Saudi Arabian businessman is driving the bid to get squash included in the Olympics for the first time.
The World Squash Federation has petitioned three times for squash to join the Games, but each bid has been rejected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The decision has prompted frustration in the squash community, particularly as sports such as climbing, surfing and skateboarding have been admitted.
Ziad Al-Turki is the Chairman of the Professional Squash Association (PSA) and has done wonders in marketing the game and broadening its appeal. He is now pushing hard for the game to be showcased on the biggest stage of all at the 2024 Olympics Games in Paris.
Squash has huge global appeal, with the men’s singles final in the last Commonwealth Games attracting a TV audience of more than one million.
“Everyone’s ultimate goal is the Olympics,” said Al-Turki. “The main push comes from the World Squash Federation (WSF) and for many years they were stuck in their ways. We changed a lot at the PSA and ticked every box with the IOC. The WSF just stayed stagnant and didn’t do anything. They didn’t want to put our hand in their hand and work together.”
Relations between the PSA and the WSF came to a head in 2015 in the wake of squash losing out to wrestling for a spot at the 2020 Olympics. A statement from the PSA described the then president of WSF, Narayana Ramachandran, as an “embarrassment to the sport.”
“Nothing could happen with the president of the WSF. Nothing would change. It was just a one-man show. We tried to help but he wouldn’t accept any help,” Al-Turki said. “We have a new president now and they are all very keen,” he added.
Jacques Fontaine is the new president and at his coronation in 2016 he encouragingly said “the Olympic agenda remains a priority.”
“The WSF love the sport and they understand the needs of the IOC,” said Al-Turki.
“They understand the PSA is at a completely different level to the WSF and we’ve now joined forces and are working together. Hopefully 2024 will be the year squash is in the Olympics. Right now, the way we are working together is the strongest collaboration ever and hopefully we can tick all the boxes for the IOC.
“We ticked all the right bodies as a professional association but the WSF didn’t. Now they are putting their hands in ours and we will tick all the right boxes for the ICO.”
Al-Turki, once described as the Bernie Ecclestone of squash, has certainly transformed the sport since he took up office in 2008.
“When I joined the PSA we didn’t have any media coverage,” he said. “Right now we are live in 154 countries. the women’s tour has just grown stronger and stronger — the income has gone up by 74 percent.
“I just love the squash players. I think they are incredible athletes are are some of the fittest athletes in the world. I felt they deserved better and I wanted them to have better.
“I don’t think we’ll be able to reach the levels of football and tennis in terms of exposure and prize money, but I want to reach a level where they will retire comfortably. It’s one of the fastest growing sports in the world right now.
“It’s all about the player and their well being. Nick Matthew retired recently and I think he’s retired comfortably. I think I’ve contributed to this as the income has improved. That’s all I want – nothing more.”