Would you believe that the Red Sox bid for Mariano Rivera?

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The reports of Mariano Rivera’s signing last night were accompanied by brief asides that he turned down other offers from other teams.  So who were they? Jon Heyman is the only one I’ve seen naming names.  He says the Angels and — get this — the Red Sox were involved. Heyman says they each offered three-year deals.

The Angels I could sort of see. It would have been a crazy, splashy move Arte Moreno would have gotten off on and it’s not like Fernando Rodney is so firmly ensconced in the closer’s job.

But the Red Sox?  I realize that Jonathan Papelbon’s stock is at an all-time low, but the Sox did end up tendering him a contract so they believe he has some value. More to the point, though, is that they have a closer-in-waiting in Daniel Bard.  Why would they want to block him for three years?  And why would they want to spend $45 million or more on a relief pitcher anyway?  If they were wired like that they would have extended Papelbon a few years ago rather than be content to go year-to-year with him in arbitration. If any team is aware that you don’t go long on your bullpen, it’s the Red Sox.

I have to think that the Red Sox stuff is either not true or, at the most, is one of those instances we hear about from time to time about the Yankees and Red Sox just trying to make life difficult for one another.

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).