“The idea that Mike Piazza’s power came from nowhere is a farce”

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Some must-click linkage today from Dan Lewis over at Amazin’ Avenue. It’s about how Mike Piazza’s power clearly came late and out of a syringe.

Oh, wait. That’s not right. It’s about how that idea — which is widely parroted among Piazza’s naysayers and reported in Jeff Pearlman’s book about Rogers Clemens — is total bunk. Piazza always had power. The fact that he was, quite famously, a 62nd round draft pick instead of a big prospect is not because no one thought he had power, but because he was scouted as a right-handed first baseman who couldn’t field that position too well. As Lewis notes, however, Piazza’s power was noted by the man who scouted him and was manifest even when he was a low-level minor leaguer.

Yes, Piazza was a surprise of sorts. And it’s totally possible that, while we have no evidence of it now, it will one day be revealed that, yes, Piazza took PEDs. But the talking point that has worked strongly against his candidacy — “that guy had no power and was a low draft pick, so he must have been ‘roiding” is totally bogus.

Great job putting this together, Dan.

Note: if you like Dan’s post, you should totally sign up for his daily newsletter, called “Now I Know.” It’s not about baseball. It’s about everything. Neat and amazing fact, feats and scientific and historical events. I read it every morning and it’s almost always stuff I never, ever would have believed beforehand.

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).