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BALTIMORE — The defending World Series champion Houston

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Astros close the 2018 regular season with their only trip to Baltimore this weekend Joey Gallo Jersey , and the first game of their four-game series with the Orioles now will be played Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards. Rain washed out Thursday’s scheduled series opener, and it will be made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader. That will be a straight twinbill, which starts at 4:05 p.m. ET with the second game starting about 30 minutes after the first contest ends. There was not much chance of getting a game in Thursday as it rained all day, with the postponement coming about 30 minutes before the scheduled start.The starters will remain the same Friday. Gerrit Cole (15-5, 2.92 ERA) goes for Houston while David Hess (3-10, 5.14) starts for the Orioles.Article continues below ...Astros manager AJ Hinch said there were several reasons for doing the doubleheader Saturday especially since there’s a chance of rain again Friday.“Obviously, you want to do your best to play and keep the integrity of the schedule, but the worst outcome would have been to play a partial night or play in miserable conditions with the threat of injury,” Hinch told reporters. “I think it worked out for both teams. Those guys are coming off 18 innings … and we certainly don’t want to play on a wet field.”Houston already has clinched the American League West and will play the Indians in the Division Series. That starts on Oct. 5.Cole has given an already-strong Astros’ starting staff even more punch this season. He has won five decisions in a row and last lost on Aug. 10. This will be the first time Cole has pitched against the Orioles in his career.Hess has been up and down during his rookie season. The right-hander has gone 1-5 in the past two months but pitched effectively on several occasions.This will be the first time he’s ever gone against the Astros.Houston (100-58) is coming off a 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays Wednesday in a game that really meant nothing. The Astros actually clinched the division title very early Wednesday morning when Oakland lost to Seattle.However, Houston officially celebrated in the locker room after the loss in Toronto, and now will prepare for this four-game series in Baltimore that really holds little meaning.Baltimore is starting the final series of a historically poor season. To make matters worse, the Orioles have run out of pitchers at times, especially in the starting rotation, which is a big reason they went with a committee approach in Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader in Boston.The Orioles are coming into this series after splitting that doubleheader. Boston crushed the Orioles 19-3 in the first game — the biggest margin of defeat for the Orioles (46-112) in this forgetful season. However, Baltimore bounced back and pulled out a 10-3 victory in the nightcap , thanks to seven runs in the final three innings.The biggest Orioles question might be whether manager Buck Showalter will return next year, but the skipper brushed that off when the media talked with him about it Thursday.“Whatever stuff like that, we all have some private thoughts and emotions about that, but I don’t think it serves the organization well for me to be worried about that right now,” Showalter told the media. “We’ve got some things to do these last four games.” ATLANTA (AP) — After the Atlanta Braves leaned heavily on their youth in a breakout season, a lack of experience and depth finally caught up to them in October.The Baby Braves ran out of steam in the NL Division Series, falling to the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-2 on Monday. Manny Machado delivered the crushing blow, a three-run homer in the seventh inning against Chad Sobotka, a rookie who made Atlanta’s postseason roster despite appearing in only 14 regular-season games. Los Angeles won the series 3-1.The Braves scored a combined two runs in their three losses.“We didn’t hit,” Freddie Freeman said. “Bottom line. Too many opportunities left out there.”Sobotka was the second straight rookie reliever, after Max Fried, used by manager Brian Snitker in the game.The Braves lost their ninth consecutive playoff series since sweeping the Astros in the 2001 division series. Still, the team has good reason for optimism after improving from 90 losses in 2017 to win their first NL East title since 2013.The Baby Braves enjoyed their postseason moment in the spotlight Sunday night, when 20-year-old rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. became the youngest player to hit a postseason grand slam and rookie Touki Toussaint earned the win in relief. The 6-5 win kept the Braves from being swept in the series.But the kids certainly had their struggles. Acuna’s slam was a highlight, but he batted just .188. Ozzie Albies hit .200 and appeared to miscommunicate with right fielder Nick Markakis on Yasiel Puig’s popup Monday. Johan Camargo was hitless in the series.“I think probably after we won the division Ferguson Jenkins Jersey , they probably sat around and thought about the playoffs,” said Snitker of the group of young players. “But until you actually experience it, the intensity, just the electricity that’s involved in that. And like I say, if a team makes the playoffs, they’re pretty good.”There was obvious disappointment in the Braves clubhouse.“We didn’t win the World Series. It’s a lost season in my book,” Freeman said.Added Acuna through a translator: “That’s just baseball. Not everything goes the way you want it to. We did everything we could under our control. We put in maximum effort.”Snitker said the young players will benefit from their first postseason.“I think it’s just been a great experience for all those young guys to have experienced the postseason at such a young age,” Snitker said. “I hope they remember how good it felt when we clinched the division. And as they head to their offseason and their workouts and when they get to spring training, you know, they’ll have an eye on the prize there.”The veterans weren’t much of a help, either. Markakis had one hit in 12 at-bats, and Inciarte was 3 for 14. Reliever Jonny Venters created a jam that allowed David Freese to deliver a pinch-hit, two-run single off Brad Brach in the sixth Monday. Even Freeman, an All-Star, couldn’t match his usual production , going 4 for 16 with a homer.Atlanta’s thin bench was a glaring disadvantage, especially when compared with the Dodgers’ impressive depth.Kurt Suzuki, pinch-hitting for Braves starting pitcher Mike Foltynewicz, gave Atlanta the run with a two-run single off Rich Hill in the fourth . But Snitker’s other options on a thin bench included Ryan Flaherty, who hit .217 in the regular season, Lane Adams, Lucas Duda and backup catcher Rene Rivera.Duda just missed hitting a three-run homer off Kenta Maeda in the eighth, pulling the deep blast foul, before ending the inning with a fly ball to center.Atlanta’s depth took a hit when shortstop Dansby Swanson was left off the postseason roster with a hand injury.Charlie Culberson, normally a utility player, was forced into a starting role. Culberson was 1 for 4 on Monday and hit only .167 for the series.“It’s one of those things where everyone didn’t expect us to be here,” Culberson said. “We love to prove people wrong, but we’re pretty upset about not making it past the Division Series. … We’re looking forward. With everyone getting postseason experience this year, now we know what to expect and we have bigger goals in mind.”

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