Indians, Pirates asking about Rockies’ Chris Iannetta

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Cleveland and Pittsburgh are among a number of teams to have asked Colorado about catcher Chris Iannetta, according to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

Iannetta’s name has come up in rumors numerous times over the last couple of years, largely because so many are convinced that the Rockies don’t value his contributions properly.  They’ve been guilty of sitting him behind seemingly inferior catchers in Yorvit Torrealba and Miguel Olivo, but they also gave him a three-year, $8.35 million deal prior to 2010 that showed a commitment to him.

Much of the old Iannetta speculation centered on the Red Sox, since not only is Iannetta a Rhode Island native, but his offensive contributions, which come mostly in the form of homers and walks, are supposed to be especially appreciated by the so-called Moneyball teams.

The Red Sox, though, are happy with Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jason Varitek at the moment and aren’t hunting for catching help.

The Pirates have a big need at catcher with both Chris Snyder and Ryan Doumit on the shelf.  The Indians have Carlos Santana behind the plate, but they don’t mind using him at first base.  If they got Iannetta, they’d probably give him most of the starts behind the plate, with Santana playing first base and serving as a DH against left-handers.

Playing pretty regularly this year, Iannetta is hitting .224/.376/.412 with 10 homers and 36 RBI in 228 at-bats.   Brian McCann is the only regular catcher with a better on-base percentage and McCann, Ramon Hernandez, Alex Avila and Miguel Montero are the only starting catchers with superior OPSs.

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).