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Royals and Braves reportedly interested in Trevor Plouffe

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Free agent third baseman Trevor Plouffe has reportedly been drawing interest around the league, says Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Braves and Royals are rumored to have shown interest alongside the Red Sox and Athletics, though no contract talks have emerged as of yet.

Plouffe, 30, was outrighted by the Twins in November after rounding out a seven-year run with the club. He slashed .260/.303/.420 with 12 home runs over 344 PA in 2016, but logged just 84 appearances after missing several months with an intercostal strain, cracked rib and left oblique strain.

Plouffe got lost amid the reshuffling of the infield and outfield when the Twins tried to accommodate Michael Sano last season, but a clean bill of health and a steady gig could see him return to his career-average .727 OPS and 22-homer rate in 2017. While the Red Sox are not thought to have room on their roster or enough space on their payroll for another significant commitment (though previous reports from the Boston Herald mention a potential one-year, $2-3 million deal for the third baseman), Cafardo notes that the Royals could be a good fit for the infielder if they consider trading Mike Moustakas. Like the Royals and Red Sox, the Braves appear to have the hot corner set for 2017, but could sign Plouffe to a short-term contract to complement Adonis Garcia and Rio Ruiz if necessary.

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).