Indians hit hard by injury bug as Santana, Miller require surgery

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The Indians already have Matt LaPorta as a question mark for Opening Day after he required hip surgery in October. Now two more of their top youngsters have required procedures that leave their statuses for 2010 in question.
Carlos Santana, one of the game’s very best prospects, suffered a broken hamate bone in his right hand. Given the usual two-month recovery timeframe, he’ll still have plenty of time to get ready for spring training. However, it often takes considerably longer for a player to regain his power after suffering a broken hamate. Under the circumstances, it’d be no surprise and no cause for alarm if Santana’s homer total is cut in half in Triple-A next season. He finished with 23 homers in Double-A last year.
Adam Miller’s future is considerably murkier. The Indians’ former No. 1 pitching prospect needed another tendon reconstruction operation for the middle finger of his right hand. It’s the fourth surgery he’s had on the finger, and it’s unclear when he might pitch again.
Since going 15-6 with a 2.75 ERA in Double-A in 2006, Miller has been limited to 65 1/3 innings in 2007 and 28 2/3 innings in 2008. He didn’t pitch last year while recovering from a previous finger surgery. The Indians may well non-tender him Saturday as a result of the latest setback. He could be re-signed to a minor league deal, but he’s no longer worth a 40-man roster spot.

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).