Orioles sign enigmatic speedster Joey Gathright

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Released by the Blue Jays over the weekend, Joey Gathright quickly found another gig by signing a minor-league contract with the Orioles.
Gathright is a fascinating to me because he’s without question one of the fastest and most athletic players in all of baseball, yet for all his blazing speed and car-jumping ability he can’t hit and isn’t even a great base-stealer.
He’s batted .263 with a mediocre .327 on-base percentage and punchless .303 slugging percentage in 1,328 plate appearances as a major leaguer, and has also averaged just 36 steals per 600 trips to the plate while being gunned down on 27 percent of his attempts.
Ultimate Zone Rating pegs him as 8.5 runs above average defensively per 150 games in center field and he rates even better as a left fielder, but for whatever reason Gathright can’t seem to find a long-term home as a fourth or fifth outfielder. He’s not even 30 years old yet, but has already played for the Rays, Royals, Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays, and Orioles.
This is actually Gathright’s second stint with the Orioles, as he played 80 games for their Triple-A affiliate last season before being traded to the Red Sox for a player to be named later or cash. Gathright hit .329 with 24 steals in those 80 games at Norfolk, which is where he’ll likely begin this season.

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).