Greetings from Day Three of the Winter Meetings

27 Comments

Another day dawns in Nashville, and with it comes another day of anticipation of one of the two biggies on the free agent market — Josh Hamilton or Zack Greinke — to sign someplace.  As of now the highest-ranked name from our Free Agent Tracker that has signed during the Winter Meetings is Dan Haren at number 14.  Not exactly excitement central here this year, unless you count people’s exasperation at Shane Victorino somehow getting $13 million a year from the Red Sox “excitement.”

As for official events here, the schedule is light today as well.  There’s the Winter Meetings Gala tonight. It’s a no-media-invited event that, normally, takes place in a hotel ballroom and.  From outside in the hallway in years past it looks like a wedding reception or something.  This year they’re having it at the Dave and Buster’s in the mall next door to the hotel.  Wish I could be part of that, because I’d love to see league officials playing whack-a-mole and stuff.

The unofficial slate resumes as well. Last night I had dinner with some baseball writers at a pretty fantastic burger and beer joint. When people weren’t eating burgers with bacon and eggs on them — yeah, I got one of those — they were checking their phones and noting just how little continues to happen on the signing and trade front.  It ended as a very early night for me — I was in bed by 11 because, man, you just gotta pace yourself here — and when I woke up a little while ago I noted that, for the most part, nothing continued to happen overnight.

Maybe today. As always, we’ll have it for you if it does.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

Getty Images
6 Comments

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).