Will the Orioles be 'buyers' this offseason?

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According to Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun, the Orioles are poised to be “buyers” this offseason, as they are in a better financial position than they have been in more than a decade.
“It’s the fun part of the job. This is the time for us to go up and hit,” Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. “Last year, we made a couple of trades, we signed five free agents. We were pretty active. Numerically, I think we’ll be more active dollar-wise than we were last year. We’re organized, we have our targets that we’re going to go after, and we’ll see how it goes and how the market unfolds.”
The team’s most pressing needs are to find a veteran starting pitcher and a middle-of-the-order bat to play first or third base. While they would likely have to overpay to sign any marquee free agents, they have expressed interest in John Lackey and Chone Figgins.
More realistic options are corner bats like Pedro Feliz, Adrian Beltre, Nick Johnson, Carlos Delgado, Troy Glaus or Hank Blalock. Whoever they sign, they will likely be a short-term stopgap until Josh Bell and Brandon Snyder are ready for the majors. As for a starting pitcher, expect the Orioles to be in the mix for Braden Looper, Randy Wolf or Jon Garland. MacPhail also hasn’t dismissed the possibility of signing a pitcher coming off injury like former ace Erik Bedard.
Zrebiec and Connolly point out that the Orioles have just three players (Nick Markakis, Brian Roberts and Brian Matusz) under contract beyond next season, so while it would be nice to see Peter Angelos finally open his wallet, now simply isn’t the time to spend just for spending’s sake. The Orioles aren’t a few pieces away from threatening the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays. Let’s hope McPhail keeps making sound baseball decisions while the talent of Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold, Chris Tillman and Matusz incubates.

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).