After hiding injury, Jarrod Saltalamacchia is back on the disabled list

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Jarrod Saltalamacchia missed the final month of last season following surgery for Thoracic Outlet Sydrome, which causes neck and shoulder problems due to a rib pushing against a nerve. Now he’s headed to the disabled list again, but this time around upper back soreness is to blame.
Saltalamacchia injured his back Monday, presumably before delivering a walk-off single in the ninth inning, and initially tried to keep the pain to himself. He finally told the team last night, but not before taking a called third strike as a pinch-hitter.
Ron Washington isn’t happy:

He needs to mature. He has put us in a bad situation. What if he had walked last night and we tied the game? Was he going to tell me then that he couldn’t catch? I don’t care how badly he wants to play, you can’t just think about yourself. He was supposed to be healthy when we left spring training. That’s what he told us. I’m not disappointed in him for being hurt; that happens. I’m disappointed in how he has handled it.

Washington definitely has a point, although given how the past year or so has gone for Saltamacchia it’s tough to blame him too much for trying to play through another injury. He underwent an MRI exam this morning and a visit to a back specialist is also on the docket, but in the meantime Taylor Teagarden will get the bulk of the starts behind the plate for the Rangers and light-hitting veteran Matt Treanor will back him up after beginning the season at Triple-A.

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).