Rumor: Orioles “locking in” on Mark Reynolds

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Justin Upton has grabbed plenty of attention in trade talks this winter — and understandably so — but Mark Reynolds remains the most likely Diamondbacks player to be suiting up elsewhere next season. Here’s the latest.

Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that the Orioles are desperate for right-handed power and are “locking in” on Reynolds as a solution. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles continue to show the “heaviest” interest in the free-swinging slugger. Interestingly, officials from the Padres and Blue Jays — two teams previously reported to be interested in Reynolds — “strongly deny any interest at all,” according to Rosenthal.

Reynolds batted .198/.320/.433 with 32 homers, 85 RBI and a 753 OPS with the Diamondbacks this past season. He has led the majors in strikeouts in each of the past three seasons. The 27-year-old third baseman signed a three-year contract extension in March and is owed $5 million in 2011, $7.5 million in 2012 and either an $11 million option or $500,000 buyout in 2013.

As for who the Diamondbacks may want in return, Jon Heyman of SI.com tweeted earlier today that Chris Tillman’s name has come up in trade talks. Tillman has struggled to translate his minor league success to the majors thus far, posting a 5.61 ERA over his first 23 major league starts, including a 5.87 ERA and 31/31 K/BB ratio over 53 2/3 innings this past season. There’s no question that his stock has taken a hit, but he doesn’t turn 23 until next April.

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).