Dee Gordon back with Dodgers, but mostly as pinch-runner

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Dee Gordon was the Dodgers’ starting shortstop from Opening Day through early July, when a torn thumb ligament sent him to the disabled list.

While he was out Los Angeles traded for Hanley Ramirez, leaving Gordon without a job now that he’s finally healthy. He was activated from the 60-day disabled list yesterday, but manager Don Mattingly explained to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times that Gordon is unlikely to do much beyond pinch-running down the stretch.

Gordon wasn’t exactly thriving before injuring his thumb, hitting just .229 with a .280 on-base percentage and .282 slugging percentage in 79 games. He did steal 30 bases at a 79 percent clip and made some highlight-worthy plays defensively, but the jury is still out on whether he can be a top-of-the-lineup asset offensively and his overall defensive numbers aren’t pretty.

Or as Mattingly put it:

This is a guy that needs to get on base better. He’s got to make better decisions, as far as the speed of the game, when do I try to make a great play, making that bread-and-butter double play.

Mattingly went on to say that “personally I think Dee’s going to be a great player” because “he brings something that no one else can bring.” That vote of confidence doesn’t mean much for the rest of this year, but if the Dodgers shift Ramirez to third base next season Gordon could be back as the primary shortstop.

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).