For better or worse, Angels get their man

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Already playing plenty well without him, the Angels will now be called World Series favorites after acquiring Zack Greinke from the Brewers on Friday night. In truth, though, they may not be any better than they were yesterday.

In Greinke, the Angels are getting a pitcher with No. 1 starter stuff. He was the AL’s best pitcher in 2009, going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA for the Royals.

In the three years since, though, Greinke hasn’t been great anywhere other than Miller Park. He was 10-14 with a 4.17 ERA in his last year with the Royals in 2010. After being traded to the Brewers in 2011, he went 16-6 with a 3.83 ERA. However, most of his success came in Milwaukee. On the road, he was 5-6 with a 4.70 ERA. This year, he was 9-3 with a 2.56 ERA overall, but 5-3 with a 4.09 ERA away from Milwaukee.

And those results were mostly against NL lineups.

Another concern is that Greinke simply wasn’t any good in the playoffs last year, giving up 15 runs — 12 earned — in 16 2/3 innings in his three starts for the Brewers.

Maybe that should be dismissed, but Greinke isn’t the typical pitcher. He doesn’t want the spotlight, and now he’ll be in it more than ever, even if Anaheim isn’t exactly Los Angeles. He might not handle it well.

I certainly don’t blame the Angels for taking the chance. Middle infielder Jean Segura is aa excellent prospect, but the Halos have both Erick Aybar and Howie Kendrick locked up for the long haul, making him expendable. I like John Hellweg as a possible No. 3 starter and Ariel Pena might make it as a No. 4 or as a setup man, but the price tag was quite fair. And since the Angels didn’t need to use Garrett Richards to bring in Greinke, they could further bolster the roster by trading him for a late-game reliever.

But my guess is that Greinke will disappoint, particularly in October. For all of his talent, he’s yet to show that he can be counted on.

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).