Jorge Posada is catching Gio Gonzalez’s bullpen sessions

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Like most pitchers, Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez has been throwing regular offseason bullpen sessions to stay sharp. Unlike most pitchers, Gonzalez has enlisted one of the best catchers in baseball history, Jorge Posada, to be behind the plate for those sessions.

Gonzalez and Posada meet up at the University of Miami baseball field on Tuesdays and Gonzalez described throwing to Posada as “a childhood dream.”

Here’s more from Dan Kolko of MASNSports.com:

Gonzalez and Posada are represented by the same agency, but they met for the first time by chance earlier this winter when working out at the gym. The two made some small-talk and got to know each other a little bit, and then Posada inquired about Gonzalez’s throwing program as he gears up for spring training.

“I remember he asked me, ‘When are you throwing a bullpen?'” Gonzalez said. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t have a guy to catch me, but I’ll find one.’ And he goes, ‘Well, I’d be more than happy to catch you.'”

“I thought he was going to say, ‘Oh, I’d love to go see (you throw).’ And he said, ‘No, I’d be happy to catch you.’ I stepped back and I was like, ‘No. Are you serious right now? You messing with me? Because this is for real, I would love for this to happen.’ So he shows up one day with no mask or anything. Just a glove.”

Pretty cool, although the 42-year-old Posada’s knees may feel differently.

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).