Still waiting on Indians' Carlos Santana

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While Stephen Strasburg and Mike Stanton made their much hyped debuts on Tuesday, one of the game’s other top-five prospects, Carlos Santana, has been left in Triple-A to continue his harassment of International League pitchers.
The 24-year-old Santana is hitting .314/.447/.580 with 12 homers and 47 RBI in 188 at-bats for Triple-A Columbus. He’s walked six more times than he’s struck out (44 to 38), and he’s even 6-for-6 stealing bases. He ranks third in the International League in OPS behind veteran first basemen Dan Johnson and Chris Richard. Only Mike Hessman and Johnson have hit more homers.
Meanwhile, Lou Marson has batted .193/.262/.267 as the Indians’ starting catcher. He finally contributed his first homer last week, but that’s his only hit in his last 22 at-bats.
Of course, there is a reason Santana wasn’t hauled up as soon as the Indians were sure he wouldn’t be a super-two player after 2012; he’s not the defender that Marson is behind the plate. He throws out less than a quarter of would-be basestealers, and his game-calling skills continue to leave something to be desired.
Santana isn’t going to be moved off catcher — he may always be below average defensively, but he also doesn’t embarrass himself. The Indians will just continue to be patient with him. His opportunity may come immediately after the All-Star break or in August. Victor Martinez didn’t establish himself in the majors until age 25. Santana, a similar all-around talent, is on a seemingly identical path. He’s not going to be a threat to hit .300 annually like Martinez, but he should have some 25-homer seasons even while sitting about once a week.

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).