Bobby Valentine can’t shut up about Kevin Youkilis

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Kevin Youkilis has been all class since the Red Sox traded him away to Chicago. Bobby Valentine, well, not so much.

Taking questions Sunday before Youkilis’ return visit to Boston this week, Valentine said: “The comment I made early, he made a big deal of. And I don’t think he ever wanted to get over it.”

Well, of course he didn’t. His brand new manager decided to go spouting off to the media about his commitment to his team and his job as a whole.

What Valentine said back in April was that, “I don’t think he’s as physically or emotionally into the game as he has been in the past for some reason.”

Even if Valentine was right about that, blabbing about it was hardly the smart approach. Although it seems Valentine eventually got his way; Youkilis was traded for a very modest return last month.

As for what has happened since, Valentine said he expected Youkilis to produce for his new team.

“I haven’t seen him play,’’ he said. “He’s gotten a lot of hits, played a lot of games. It seems like he’s healthier.’’

Asked if he was surprised that Youkilis appeared healthier, Valentine responded: “Not surprised. As a matter of fact, Maggs (hitting coach Dave Magadan) said he had no doubt if he went somewhere else he’d play better.’’

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).