The Rangers are working hard to get Roy Oswalt

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UPDATE:  Now the Fort Worth Star-Telegrams is calling applesauce on my report.  GM Jon Dainels didn’t directly deny it, but he did say “you can probably figure this one out,” suggesting that it’s not happening.

And as I said before, there is a difference between a deal happening and one being discussed. I stand by my report that the Astros and Rangers have talked about a deal and got fairly far along in the process. I also acknowledge — as I did earlier — that making such a deal would be outrageously difficult given the Rangers’ financial constraints.

For those of you calling the whole thing into question, I had some things to say in the comments with respect to my philosophy about dealing in the trade rumors game. Short version: sometimes people are wrong, sometimes people are right. Quite often there’s no telling who was wrong and who was right (e.g an the lack of an Oswalt-to-the-Rangers trade does not debunk my report that there were talks of one).

My view is that I pass on what I hear from credible sources (and my source for the Oswalt report is credible), attempt to give enough context to the information I’ve received to where people can at least attempt to judge it on its merits and do my best not to oversell what I’m hearing, which is what I’ve done here.  Finally, if things turn out to be wrong, I try to do my best to get the right information out there, which is also what I’ve done here.

5:33 P.M:  Buster Olney tweets that he’s spoken with a highly placed Rangers source and that there’s “nothing to it.” Meaning my report.  I’ll obviously keep looking into it, but at this point we’ve certainly got to say there are conflicting reports.

4:52 P.M.: A major league source is telling me that the Rangers have been talking to the Astros about Roy Oswalt and that the teams are “getting closer” to having a deal in place.  It’s not yet clear which player(s) would be coming back from Texas to Houston, but my understanding is that the live bodies part of the deal is more or less agreed to.

But in place is not the same thing as done: the sticking point: the Rangers are trying to convince Major League Baseball — who holds the purse strings until the sale of the Rangers is complete — to allow them to take on Oswalt’s salary.

It’s also unclear — but I’m sure some of my bankruptcy expert readers could tell me — if the bankruptcy court would have to give approval for the Rangers to take on new obligations in such a deal.  On the one hand Oswalt’s salary represents a boatload of money and the Rangers are in bankruptcy. On the other hand, a bankruptcy court tends not to oversee the normal hiring and firing of employees of bankrupt companies that are otherwise going concerns.

Whether it’s just MLB or MLB+bankruptcy court signoff that is required, such a deal will take some serious begging. As everyone knows, Oswalt is owed pro-rate $15 million this year, $16 million next year and a $2 million buyout if his 2012 option — which is also worth $16 million — isn’t picked up.  Meanwhile, Major League Baseball currently has a line of credit out to the Rangers just so they can cover expenses on the team. A team that is in bankruptcy, by the way.

So yes, there are a lot of “ifs” here at the moment. But unlike the multiple reports we’ve seen in the past several days regarding where Roy Oswalt would theoretically allow himself to be traded, we know right now that there are at least two teams — the Rangers and the Astros — who would like to see him pitching in the Dallas Metroplex, complicated financial considerations willing.

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).