The Yankees expect Mariano Rivera to take a pay cut

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Jon Heyman reports that the Yankees are expected to ask Mariano Rivera to take a “significant paycut” as part of a new contract.

He made $15 million in 2012. Heyman thinks the Yankees could ask him to take $10 million in 2013, possibly with incentives.  Which doesn’t seem unreasonable given his age and the fact that he’s coming off an injury.

Also: Rivera probably doesn’t have a choice. Not a palatable one, anyway. This is sort of like when Derek Jeter was a free agent a couple of years ago. He may be worth somewhere between $10-15 million to the New York Yankees given his history there, the fan base and what he means to the team. But is a closer of his age — like a shortstop of Jeter’s — worth that to another team? And what does changing teams at this juncture in his career do for him? At the very least it’s an inconvenience. At most it’s a disruption of a legacy. At least to the extent he cares about such things.

It’s possible Rivera will be worth more than that, both the Yankees or to some other team. Indeed, if 2011 Rivera shows up again the Yankees will have a bargain. But as we sit here now, not knowing what the injury and the time off will do to Rivera’s cutter, the leverage here is definitely on the Yankees’ side.

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).