A couple of catchers who aren’t catching anymore

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Carlos Santana and Jesus Montero were catchers once upon a time. Not particularly great catchers (in Montero’s case a pretty lousy one). But they could hit. Well, both hit in the minors and Santana has hit everywhere. Montero is something of a dumpster fire at the moment.

Either way, neither of them will be catching much going forward. Santana is slated to the Indians’ third baseman after playing third in winter ball. He’s doing that to make room for Yan Gomes, who wow’d ’em in 88 games last season. Terry Francona would love to get his bat in the lineup.

Montero is a different case. He’s moving to first base mostly to keep himself out of harm’s way. He’d likely be fourth on the depth chart at first base behind Justin Smoak, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, but it’s probably too early to give up on his bat just yet and he has to play someplace. Ultimately he’s a DH at best. Smart money has him washing out if he doesn’t hit this season.

But no matter where the two of these guys are going to end up, they’re going to start spring training wearing the tools of ignorance, reports Paul Hoynes and Greg Johns, respectively. Partially because their managers don’t want them to completely lose their catching chops, but also because in the first week or two of spring training you need all the catchers you can get.

I give Santana a good chance of sticking at third. I give Montero little chance of anything. But it’ll be interesting to see the conversions.

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).