Tacopina: A-Rod has not used any illegal PEDs since his 2009 confession

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Personally: I’d limit my defense of A-Rod to one centering on the disproportionate suspension he received rather than argue that he didn’t take any PEDs at all. Partially because of what the Biogenesis documents are reported to contain, partially because no one else associated with Biogenesis has claimed that they didn’t do it and partially because I don’t feel like I’d trust A-Rod enough to take his word for it.

Oh, also: I don’t feel like a lot of other people would buy it either. Better to err on the side of plausibility, yes?

Well, I’m not Joe Tacopina. And Mr. Tacopina is known to take bold stances. He’s doing so again:

Tacopina told CNN that Rodriguez had “absolutely not” taken illegal PEDs recently and challenged the notion that MLB possesses any evidence to the contrary.

As we’ve seen in the past, it’s possible to parse the term “illegal” in the phrase “illegal PEDs.” MLB bans lots of things, after all, that you, I or anyone else can go purchase at GNC or get from a physician. There’s also that whole bit about how stuff that is illegal here is not illegal in other countries. There’s also the fact that a lawyer saying something to CNN is different than actually arguing such a thing in an arbitration and that Tacopina has been all about the P.R. aspects of this case for some time.

Still, pretty interesting tack to take. As is some of the stuff in the linked article describing how this case is turning into a battle between MLB and A-Rod to portray the other as being sleazier in its efforts to obtain evidence.

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).