Jeff Francoeur wants to play every day

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Because they can’t help themselves, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke with Jeff Francoeur yesterday.  Mostly chitchat, but this question about Francoeur’s hopes and dreams for next season stood out:

Q. A part-time role isn’t what you’re after, is it?

A. No, I want to play every day, and the Rangers know that. That’s why I said they’ll have decisions to make. If not, hopefully I’ll go somewhere else. I definitely want to go back, but that stuff will play itself out in the next couple months.

Look, I know everyone wants to play every day, but Francoeur has to appreciate that there are very, very few teams that want to do that with him given his limitations, to put it mildly, against righties. And, no, I will not accept a response that says “hey, he’s just being competitive: there’s nothing wrong with that!”  Why? Because he’s going to be a free agent as soon as the Rangers non-tender him, and any team who may be interested in him in a platoon or backup role is going to be scared away if they think he’s going to sulk if he’s not a full-timer.  Which he will, because he’s done it before.

If Jeff Francoeur truly wants to play every day, here’s what he needs to do: shut up about wanting to play every day, make noises about being flexible, about being a team player and about wanting to go wherever he can contribute. That way he doesn’t scare off the 25-28 teams in major league baseball that are smart enough not to name him their everyday right fielder.  Then, once he’s under contract, Francoeur can work his tail off to improve and impress — rather than just tell the AJC that he’s going to, like he does every spring — and make his new team think twice about him being merely a role player.  And of course, to be prepared to take over full time in the event of an injury or something.

Jeff Francoeur has been given starting jobs for no good reason for many years now, and has failed to deliver. If he had delivered, sure, maybe voicing his desire to be a starter would be justified. But that hasn’t happened, and because of it he cannot afford to be seen making demands like this in the media.

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).