Red Sox, Cubs hope to settle Theo Epstein compensation next week

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The Red Sox and Cubs were granted an extension last week to work out the lingering issue of compensation over Theo Epstein. However, since both sides are pretty busy interviewing managerial candidates and expressing interest to free agents, little progress has been made in recent days.

Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington hopes to change that real soon. He told Evan Drellich of MLB.com yesterday that he and Epstein are optimistic they can work out an agreement in person at the general manager meetings next week in Milwaukee.

“Theo and I have spoken a couple of times since I talked to you guys last,” Cherington said Wednesday at Fenway Park, a week after his last huddle with the media. “We traded some ideas and don’t have anything to report yet, but there’s at least been a couple more conversations.”

“The Commissioner’s Office is giving us some leeway on it if we feel like there’s progress being made,” Cherington said. “I think we’ll give ourselves until next week. We’ll see each other in person next week, at least give ourselves until then to see if there’s something we can’t figure out.”

This sounds like a broken record already, but if the two sides can’t reach an agreement by the end of next week, commissioner Bud Selig would likely step in as an arbitrator. I fully expect to do one post on this topic each week until the end of time.

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).