The Phillies sign Chad Durbin

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The lastest move from Ruben Amaro:

Sources told MLB.com today the Phillies and right-hander Chad Durbin have agreed to terms on a one-year deal, pending a physical. The deal includes a club option for 2014. Durbin, 35, pitched for the Phillies from 2008-10, when he helped solidify the middle innings.

Jerry Crasnick says the deal is for $1.1 million with some incentives.

Durbin is useful, and his ERA was a bit misleading last year after he began the season with a few disaster appearances before settling down into a reliable groove. Anecdotally (he pitched for the Braves last year) he seemed to give up more hits and walks and allowed more inherited runners to score than he actually did. I have no idea what to make of that. Vexing really. Especially the inherited runner part. In reality he allowed only 11 of 44 to score, which isn’t bad.  So I’m wondering why I have this irrationally dour view of his performance last year. Probably has a lot to do with Fredi Gonzalez using him in some high leverage situations rather than go to his better relievers, thereby causing me to subconsciously transfer my anger at the manager to the pitcher. Whatever the case, it probably says an awful lot about the irrationality and subjectivity of being a fan, especially when it comes to bullpens.

Oh well.  He is another new face in the Philly pen, which desperately needed a makeover. If things break right, he and Mike Adams could turn what was a profound weakness last year into a strength. It’s little moves like these which tend go unnoticed until a team exceeds expectations and then someone writes the “how are the Phillies doing it?” article.

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).