UPDATE: Carlos Zambrano suspended indefinitely

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UPDATE: According to Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune, the Cubs have suspended Carlos Zambrano indefinitely for his actions during Friday’s game.

“His conduct was not acceptable,” Cubs general
manager Jim Hendry said. “It has become a bit of a tired act.”

According to Carrie Muskat of MLB.com, Hendry said, “We’ll play with
24 before we tolerate that behavior.”

Wow.

Zambrano was sent home by Cubs manager Lou Piniella, who called the whole incident “embarrassing” during a post-game press conference. Speaking of embarrassing, Big Z reportedly jawed at some cameramen on the way out of the stadium, according to Sullivan. Film at 11!

Oh, and just a reminder, Zambrano is in the third year of a five-year, $91.5 million contract. Fun.

5:05 PM: Today’s starter Carlos Zambrano went nuts during the first inning of today’s Cubs-White
Sox game, after which he was removed from the game by Lou Piniella and asked to
leave the ballpark.

The details: The first batter he faced was
Juan Pierre, who doubled down the first base line. Zambrano then gave up
another double, a single and a three-run home run to Carlos Quentin,
and ended the inning behind 4-0.  Once he got back to the dugout he got
up in Derrek Lee’s face, obviously jawing at him over his failure to
field Pierre’s hit before it made it down the line.

And he might have had a point. I’m not watching the game, but those
who are say that the ball was probably playable for Lee.  But if
Zambrano had any moral high ground on that point he lost it the second
he decided to yell at rather than talk to Lee, and then when he decided
to smash the Gatorade cooler and throw water on the field.  That was
enough for Piniella, obviously, who replaced Zambrano with Tom
Gorzelanny. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this one after the game.

Just another day at the ballpark for Big Z.  Just another summer of
dealing with a freakin’ head case for the Chicago Cubs. 

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).