Red Sox and Pirates finalize Joel Hanrahan trade

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An official announcement was delayed over Christmas, but the Red Sox and Pirates have now completed the trade sending reliever Joel Hanrahan to Boston.

Along with Hanrahan the Red Sox also receive Brock Holt, a 24-year-old shortstop with good on-base skills who debuted with the Pirates this year.

In exchange for Hanrahan and Holt the Pirates get first baseman/outfielder Jerry Sands, reliever Mark Melancon, and prospects Stolmy Pimentel and Ivan De Jesus.

Hanrahan has been one of the best relievers in baseball since 2010, posting a 2.73 ERA with 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings in 205 appearances, and he saved 76 games during the past three seasons. He’ll be a free agent next offseason.

Sands was acquired by the Red Sox from the Dodgers in the Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett trade. He hasn’t hit much in the majors so far, but the 25-year-old has consistently had very strong production in the minors, including hitting .288 with 55 homers and a .914 OPS in 213 games at Triple-A.

Boston got Melancon from Houston last offseason for Jed Lowrie, but he quickly went from setup man to the minors after a brutal start. He returned in June and pitched well with a 4.19 ERA and 40/10 K/BB ratio in 43 innings, so the Pirates definitely bought low on a capable late-inning bullpen arm.

Neither Pimental nor De Jesus ranked among the Red Sox’s top 10 prospects according to Baseball America. De Jesus, who was also acquired in the Gonzalez/Crawford/Beckett swap, has spent most of the past three seasons at Triple-A and projects as a bench player in the majors at age 26. Pimentel spent this season at Double-A as a 22-year-old, throwing 116 innings with a 4.59 ERA and 86/42 K/BB ratio.

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).