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Matt Garza to become free agent

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Brewers’ right-hander Matt Garza is set to enter free agency following the 2017 season, MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy reports. Garza was previously thought to have a $5 million vesting option for the 2018 season, but it was voided after he pitched a certain number of games. Even had it been in place, however, it’s unlikely the Brewers would have chosen to exercise it based on Garza’s regression this year.

It’s been a rollercoaster of a season for the veteran righty, who’s seen more valleys than peaks after racking up almost 50 days on the disabled list with a right groin strain, chest contusion and lower leg strain. He went 6-9 in 19 starts and pitched to a rotation-worst 4.94 ERA, 3.5 BB/9 and 6.2 SO/9 over 114 2/3 innings.

Garza is not expected to return to Milwaukee after finishing out a four-year run with the club, during which he compiled a 26-39 record and 4.65 ERA over a total 528 1/3 innings. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings in his last start with the team, holding the Reds to five runs on six hits and two walks, but returned later in September to record a pair of scoreless relief appearances.

With or without the right-hander, the Brewers are still expected to be in the market for starting pitching this offseason. They’re currently running with a four-man rotation and aren’t expected to see right-hander Jimmy Nelson (shoulder surgery) until late in the 2018 season.

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).