Astros agree to trade Carlos Lee to Marlins for prospects

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UPDATE: Olney says the deal is done and Houston is getting minor leaguers Matt Dominguez, a third baseman and one-time top prospect whose stock has dropped, and Rob Rasmussen, a 2010 second-round pick with a chance to be a mid-rotation starter. All in all not a bad haul considering the Astros were just happy to shed Lee, although they’re likely paying a big chunk of his remaining money.

UPDATE #2: Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle reports that Lee’s locker in the Astros’ clubhouse is now empty, so it looks like the trade is all but official.

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Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Dodgers last week, but the Astros have continued to shop the veteran first baseman/left fielder and Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that they’re “deep into talks” with the Marlins.

According to Olney “he has indicated a willingness to play for Miami” and a deal could be very close.

Miami first basemen have combined to hit just .206 with five homers and a .565 OPS that ranks dead last among MLB teams. In fact, no other team is below .600. They’ve turned back to Gaby Sanchez as the primary first baseman after demoting him to Triple-A earlier this season, but he’s hit just .190 with one homer in 18 games since returning to the big leagues.

Lee’s production has hardly been spectacular for a first baseman, including just five homers and a .412 slugging percentage in 65 games, but as with the Dodgers and James Loney the Marlins and Sanchez are certainly one of the few situations in which he’d represent a potential upgrade.

Lee is being paid $18.5 million in the final season of six-year, $100 million contract, so the Astros won’t be getting much in return and may have to eat a big portion of that salary.

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).