Report: Scott Rolen is leaning towards retirement

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Eight-time Gold Glove winner Scott Rolen had a nice little two-month resurgence for the Reds this summer, but he couldn’t keep it going in September and October. Now, with his contract up and free agency looming, he’s leaning towards retirement at age 37, USATODAY’s Bob Nightengale reports.

Rolen has been plagued by shoulder problems for years, and he again spent time on the DL this season when the soreness became too much to handle. A perennial All-Star in his prime, he played in 140 games just once and 120 games three times after turning 30. He hit .245/.318/.398 with eight homers and 39 RBI in 294 at-bats this season.

Because Rolen added so little to his stats after his first nine full seasons, he probably won’t sniff Cooperstown. It doesn’t help that he wasn’t properly rated when he was at his best. Even though he had three 30-homer and five-100 RBI seasons while being widely recognized as the game’s premier defensive third baseman, he just once received significant MVP consideration, that coming when he finished fourth in 2004.

Still, it’s hard to look at Rolen’s body of work and not conclude that he was one of the 12 or 15 best third basemen in major league history. Maybe that’s still not Hall of Fame-worthy, but he had a terrific career. It’s too bad it had to conclude with an NLDS-ending strikeout today.

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).