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Rangers shut down Adrian Beltre

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Now that the Rangers have been eliminated from contention, they have shut down their third baseman, Adrian Beltre for the final weekend of the season.

It was a weird year for Beltre. He hit magnificently when he was in, posting a line of .311/.382/.533 with 17 homers and 71 RBI. He also picked up his 3,000th career hit. Still, Beltre called it his “most disappointing season” due to the injuries he has suffered. He started late due to an injured quad and missed a lot of time late with an injured hamstring. In all, he’s played only 93 games. The shutdown now is an acknowledgment that, even though he’s been active, he’s not been at 100%.

Next year will be the second year on a two-year contract extension Beltre signed and he’ll be paid $18 million. He’ll turn 39 in April. Whether or not he’ll remain with the Rangers after 2018 — or even if he’ll last the whole 2018 season with them — is up in the air. It mostly depends on whether the Rangers look to rebuild or if they’ll simply reload and try to compete again. At the moment the signs suggest the latter course, not the former. Either way, Beltre has 5/10 rights, meaning that he’d have to approve any trade.

Age gets all players eventually. At the moment, it seems to be getting to Beltre far less than most players with his mileage, at least in terms of his productivity when healthy. How much it impacts how often he can be on the field going forward will be what impacts what the Rangers and he decide his future will be most of all.

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).