Court smacks down MLB’s attempt to get A-Rod’s P.R. guy testify

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Yesterday we told you about how Major League Baseball was desperately trying to force A-Rod’s public relations guy, Michael Sitrick, to testify in the Biogenesis arbitration. The arbitration which is over, by the way, but MLB says it needs Sitrick in order to establish that A-Rod obstructed the Biogenesis investigation. Welp, sorry MLB:

Manhattan federal Judge Edgardo Ramos sided with A-Rod’s former PR maven Michael Sitrick, granting him a stay that gets “The Wizard of Spin” out of complying with the judge’s Nov. 22 order to honor an MLB subpoena and appear before the independent arbitrator who’ll determine the ban while Sitrick appeals the ruling to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

This doesn’t mean that, eventually, a court won’t say that Sitrick doesn’t have to comply with the subpoena. But it does mean that any such ruling will come way to late to help Major League Baseball, which wants him to show up in New York before the arbitrator issues his ruling. That’s not going to happen now.

There’s a quote from an attorney in the linked New York Post piece to the effect that baseball still thinks it’ll have no trouble obtaining the 211-game suspension against A-Rod without Sitrick’s testimony. But if that’s the case, one wonders why MLB fought so hard to get Sitrick under oath. And, if it got his testimony, to open up the arbitration that has been closed for a few weeks now.

My guess: the obstruction of justice case is pretty weak. And if it is, one wonders how MLB gets to 211 games.

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).