Sanchez and Wilson get an offer

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There’s been a lot of talk about the Pirates trading Jack Wilson and Freddy Sanchez, but a new wrinkle has emerged:

The Pirates have approached shortstop Jack Wilson and second baseman
Freddy Sanchez about multiyear contract extensions, putting on hold,
for now, the possibility that either will be traded by Major League
Baseball’s July 31 deadline. But the clock is ticking. If the parties
are to agree on extensions, they will need to do so far enough in
advance of the deadline so that, if the Pirates decide no agreement is
possible, they still can pursue a trade for one or both. That likely
means something must get done within the next week to 10 days.

Despite all of the drama surrounding recent Pirates’ trades,
I can’t recall an instance of Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington playing games
with players. Still, it strikes me as odd that contract offers are
coming so late in the game and close to the deadline, leaving little
time for negotiation. If it were any other GM I’d wonder whether this
wasn’t a PR move on the part of the team designed to lessen fan — and
player — ire when two popular players are ultimately moved.

For what it’s worth, both Sanchez and Wilson are playing fantastic
defense this year, really enjoy playing in Pittsburgh and, based on
this article and everything else I’ve seen, have no desire to break the
bank. Against that backdrop, it would make sense to keep them around,
both as a stability move and because it will give the fans something to be happy about in Pittsburgh.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.