Bud Selig: “We’d better” have expanded replay next season

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Bud Selig has repeatedly downplayed the outcry for expanded instant replay this year, which is why this comment from a Q & A with Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times on Thursday was pretty surprising and downright refreshing.

You have said you want to expand instant replay to include reviews of fair or foul balls and trapped balls. Will that expanded replay be in place for next season?

“I think we’ll have it for sure. They’re working on cameras in all the ballparks. We need the right cameras. Should we have them by next year? We’d better.”

That’s what we have longed to hear from Selig for a long time now, but actions speak much louder than words. Expanded replay for fair-or-foul balls and trapped-or-caught balls was actually negotiated into the new collective bargaining agreement last November, though the implementation was subject to negotiations between MLB and the umpires’ union. It was announced back in March that the two sides weren’t able to come to an agreement in time for this season. MLB also wants to make sure that they have the proper technology in place in all 30 parks. Let’s hope Selig has more sense of urgency to get this done than he has shown with the committee on the Athletics-to-San Jose case. Thursday’s answer was a pretty good start, though.

By the way, Shaikin’s Q & A is worth a read. Selig addresses a wide variety of topics, including the new Wild Card format and whether he showed a double standard by allowing the Moores to take $200 million in TV money from the recent sale of the Padres, but wouldn’t allow Frank McCourt to do the same with the Dodgers. Really interesting stuff.

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).