Nationals activating Chien-Ming Wang for first start since 2009

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Chien-Ming Wang’s rehab outing didn’t go very well yesterday, as he allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings at Triple-A, but the Nationals have decided he’s ready for the big leagues anyway.

Or, more accurately, Wang’s rehab stint will reach the 30-day maximum Wednesday and unless a new injury is found the Nationals have to either activate him or release him. They’re choosing the former and Wang, who last started a major-league game in July of 2009, will make his long-awaited return Friday against the Mets.

Last season the Nationals got nothing out of a $2 million investment in Wang and this year he re-signed for $1 million in guaranteed money and another $4 million in potential incentives, so it’s no surprise that they want to at least get him to the majors and give him a chance to earn some of that money.

In six total rehab starts Wang had a 3.14 ERA and 17/4 K/BB ratio in 29 innings, so despite the rough outing yesterday there were some signs that he’s at least healthy and pitching well enough to handle minor-league hitters. In his last action before being shut down with shoulder problems in 2009 he had a 9.64 ERA in 42 innings for the Yankees, so the 31-year-old Wang hasn’t been effective since 2008.

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).