Marlins players are pretty happy to see Hanley Ramirez gone

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Hanley Ramirez’s former Marlins teammates? Not sad to see him gone:

One player who spoke on the condition of anonymity said, “There were a lot of smiles’’ in the Marlins clubhouse Wednesday morning, happiness because a player disliked by many in the organization — but protected by the front office for years because he was producing — was finally gone.

“They created a monster from a very good baseball player — gave him so much slack to do whatever the [expletive] he wanted because he was performing,’’ the player said.

“You can push some things aside when you’re hitting .340 with 40 home runs. You say ‘He’s a [jerk], but I can deal with it. … But when you’re not playing and you’re trying to be that same [jerk], it starts rubbing people the wrong way.’’

And Ozzie Guillen was pretty frank too:

Guillen, asked Wednesday what Ramirez’s absence would mean to the lineup, said, “Nothing. Because he wasn’t producing.”

It’s all on Jeff Loria, who protected Hanley Ramirez from any accountability. It was well-known in Miami that Ramirez was one of his favorites. He even bought him jewelry!  And when former manager Fredi Gonzalez tried to get some sort of control over Ramirez, disciplining him for slacking off and stuff, Gonzalez was undercut. Then he was fired.  And that’s no way to run a railroad.

(thanks to Old Gator for the links)

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).