Orioles “going hard” after Brewers ace Zack Greinke

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There will be no shortage of teams interested in Zack Greinke if the Brewers make him available before the July 31 trade deadline and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles are already “going hard” after the former Cy Young winner.

Connolly spoke to a an unnamed MLB executive from a non-Baltimore team and writes that “the Orioles appear to be the most aggressive suitor” for Greinke, although it’s not a guarantee that the Brewers end up trading him if they can get a long-term contract extension done in the next couple weeks.

Baltimore can certainly use the rotation help, as Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen have been the Orioles’ only dependable starters and yet they’re still in second place in the AL East at 44-38.

Any trade would presumably have to bring back more value to the Brewers than a pair of draft picks, which they could get as compensation for Greinke leaving as a free agent. He’s making $13.5 million in the final year of a deal signed with the Royals and is 25-8 with a 3.54 ERA in 45 starts for the Brewers since they parted with Jake Odorizzi, Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar, and Jeremy Jeffress to get him in December of 2010.

Baltimore has a pair of truly elite prospects in Dylan Bundy and Manny Machado, but the Orioles would be crazy to make either available for a half-season of Greinke and Connolly speculates that they may lack the second-tier prospects to entire the Brewers.

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).