The A-Rod hearing resumes today

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I can’t decide if the resumption of the Alex Rodriguez hearing today means that we’ll hear less silly p.r. spin from the lawyers because they’ll be busy with substantive casework again or if it means we’ll hear more because, rather than seek out the media each day, they’ll have to walk by them as they go in and out of MLB’s offices for the hearing. Guess we’ll see!

Anyway, things do get going again today. As we’ve noted in recent days, a couple of the bigger issues A-Rod’s team is going to try to push are (a) the provenance of much of MLB’s evidence; and (b) putting Bud Selig on the stand.

The former issue involves MLB’s investigative methods. Specifically, whether it knowingly obtained stolen Biogenesis evidence to build its case and whether it used other underhanded and extreme tactics to gain the cooperation of witnesses. A-Rod’s lawyers are trying to tell a tale of an out-of-control MLB, hellbent on nailing A-Rod to a wall and willing to do anything to make it happen. MLB, of course, is saying it did nothing wrong. All of that is sexy. It’s quite possible, though, that none of it matters, as the the arbitrator may only concern himself with what evidence is in front of him, not whether it got to him via sleazy means.

As for Selig on the stand: it seems unlikely, but clearly A-Rod’s team would like to make the league sweat.

The hearings will last all week and through the weekend, with the arbitrator saying he wants it done before Thanksgiving. The ruling, however, may not come out until a month afterward.

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).