Dodgers' offseason: Lawyers, guns and money

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Thumbnail image for padilla.jpgWhat has been a disconcerting offseason for the Los Angeles Dodgers just got a little bit weirder.

I’m talking Warren Zevon weird.

Things have gone downhill since L.A. was ousted quite easily by the Phillies in the NLCS. There is of course, the ongoing saga of the McCourt divorce, which includes a non-stop stream of he-said, she-said brief filings, and sordid accusations that would make the Gosselins blush.

It’s been so much fun that there is now a new blog devoted to the proceedings called – I kid you not – Dodgerdivorce.com. (What’s next? Jeterdates.com?)

But the menacing cloud swirling around Chavez Ravine got a little more toxic on Tuesday when the news came down that pitcher Vicente Padilla had been shot in the leg.

Details have been sketchy, but it appears Padilla was at a shooting range outside of Managua in his native Nicaragua when he accidentally shot himself.

At least Plaxico Burress was in a dark nightclub with a pistol in his pants when he accidentally wounded himself. You would think Padilla would be a little safer in a controlled environment. Then again, maybe they play things kind of fancy free at Nicaragua gun ranges.

I wouldn’t make light of the incident if Padilla were badly hurt, but as he was hospitalized only 40 minutes before being released “without gravity,” I figure it’s fair game.

Besides, the Dodgers don’t seem too concerned, as GM Ned Colletti said after the incident (through Tweeting L.A. Times writer Dylano Hernandez) that his team is still interested in re-signing Padilla.

I’d suggest L.A. hire a bodyguard to protect the wild-shooting pitcher from himself, but maybe the Dodgers don’t want to go down that road again.

Follow me on Twitter at @bharks. For more baseball news, go to NBCSports.com.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).