The Braves sign Julio Lugo for some reason

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It’s a pretty bad day when both your team and its division rival both sign guys to minor league deals, the rival’s signing is Scott Podsednik, and they’re move is far, far better than your team’s. But alas it was, as the Braves signed Julio Lugo for some reason.

Lugo tore up baseball to the tune of .249/.298/.282 last year and so impressed everyone with his winning attitude these past few years that no one gave him a shot this spring. So yeah, that’s a guy you gotta sign.

The worst part of it is that the Braves are in far greater need of outfield depth than infield help — if, indeed, you can call what Lugo provides “help” — due to the Jason Heyward’s and Nate McLouth’s injuries. So I’m actually sitting here wishing that the Braves would have signed Podsednik instead, and that’s about as pathetic a wish as there is. In case you haven’t noticed, the last few Braves games have made me profoundly bitter and pessimistic.

Oh wait, as I was writing this, Twitter follower @FuquaManuel notifies me that the Braves may have had a reason to get Lugo: he as a career 1.280 OPS in over 100 plate appearances against the Phillies.

But on second thought, that doesn’t make me feel better. The Braves have shown in the past couple of weeks that beating the Phillies head-to-head is no big deal.  It’s the rest of baseball that gives them trouble.  Sigh.

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).