Adam LaRoche accepts two-year deal from Nationals

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Adam LaRoche was holding out for three years and the Nationals were steadfast in sticking with a two-year offer. Today the free agent first baseman decided that was good enough, as Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports that LaRoche has agreed to a two-year deal to return to Washington.

Having draft pick compensation attached to his free agency no doubt hurt LaRoche, who couldn’t secure a three-year deal and seemingly had trouble generating many two-year offers despite hitting .271 with 33 homers and an .853 OPS last season.

Now that LaRoche is back in the fold the Nationals are expected to shop Michael Morse, who had been slated to replace him at first base if needed. Instead with LaRoche at first base, Denard Span is center field, and Bryce Harper and Jayson Werth in the outfield corners there’s no room for Morse to play following a season in which he hit .291 with 18 homers and a .791 OPS in 102 games.

Morse is three years younger than LaRoche and out-played him in 2010 and 2011, but he’s also just one year from free agency and should have some decent trade value.

UPDATE: Amanda Comak of the Washington Times reports that LaRoche’s two-year deal is worth $24 million guaranteed, which includes a $2 million buyout of a third-year team option.

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).