No love lost between Bengie Molina and Brian Sabean

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I missed this last week, but apparently Brian Sabean said that he had planned on trading Bengie Molina all along:

Giants GM Brian Sabean revealed Wednesday that he knew from the moment he signed Molina that the club would trade him later in the summer . . . “That was the plan almost going all the way back to the winter meetings (in December). We were fortuitous that Bengie turned down the Mets and signed with us. But (if not), we would’ve signed another catcher and lined it up the same way, because Buster wasn’t ready.”

This did not sit well with Molina, who had this to say to the San Francisco Chronicle yesterday:

“That tells you what a person he is, I guess. He never tells me anything. I wish he would have told me before they signed me. I would not have signed.”
On the one hand I want to take Molina’s side here. We have ample evidence that Sabean is both not-well-liked among his peers and is not the most considerate boss on the planet, and ample evidence that Molina is a hell of a guy. If it comes down to those two, I’m on Team Bengie seven days a week.
On the other hand, if you’re Bengie Molina — or especially if you’re Bengie Molina’s agent — how can you not assume that, given the presence of a phenom catcher in Posey, that Molina was not going to be trade bait prior to signing last winter? From the moment Molina hit free agency people assumed that he was a short-timer in San Francisco if he came back. People even wondered whether he wasn’t destined to be the backup right out of spring training. Given that he still had defensive value, it seemed inevitable that he would be shopped, barring injury.  He’s a smart guy, so he had to know that too.
So, I feel ya, Bengie. I really do. Sabean is kind of a jerk. But in this case you don’t have a ton of room to be hurt.

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).