Mariners sign shortstop Wilson for $10 million

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jack wilson.jpgThe marriage didn’t start off as anyone wanted, but the Mariners announced on Friday that they’ve re-signed free agent Jack Wilson to a two-year deal through 2011. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dejan Kovacevic says the contract is worth $10 million.
Wilson was a bust in his first two months with the team after coming over from the Pirates along with Ian Snell for Jeff Clement, Ronny Cedeno and prospects. He played in just 31 games, hitting .224/.263/.299 in 107 at-bats, before missing the final three weeks with a heel injury.
He also struggled defensively, committing five errors. That’s the same number he totaled in 80 starts during an injury-plagued 2008 season. He was involved in just 17 double plays or .55 per start. That’s well down from his career rate of .75 per game started.
Wilson may be the game’s steadiest shortstop when healthy. His high for errors in a season is 18, and he still has well above average range even at age 32. He’s never won a Gold Glove, but he deserved a couple in the early part of the decade.
Offense is, of course, a major problem. Wilson has finished with OPSs below 700 seven times in nine seasons. He’s a career .268/.310/.374 hitter, with 98 percent of his at-bats coming in the easier league. He’s also battled durability issues of late. He averaged 148 games per year from 2002-07, but he slipped to 87 in 2008 and 106 last season.
With no future shortstop on the horizon, it’s hard to blame the Mariners for re-signing Wilson. They still need to go get themselves a legitimate backup to protect themselves, though. As long as Wilson hits ninth, limiting the damage he can do to the offense, he’s a perfectly adequate regular and a big upgrade over what the Mariners were getting from Yuniesky Betancourt.

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).