Braves

Braves GM John Coppolella resigns in the wake of international signing infractions

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Big news out of Atlanta a few moments ago as Ken Rosenthal reports that Braves general manager John Coppolella has resigned in the wake of allegations that he breached rules in connection with signings of international players. Special assistant to the GM Gordon Blakeley is also resigning, Rosenthal says.

The specific nature of the infractions are not known yet, but Jeff Passan reports that Major League Baseball has been investigating the Braves in general and Coppolella specifically in recent weeks for a host of issues including international signings and other issues as well. Passan says “MLB was looking into everything from Braves’ int’l operations to its domestic draft to Coppolella’s treatment of Braves employees.” He says there has been considerable infighting in the organization in recent weeks.

There have been few if any external signs of strife with the Braves, apart from maybe the up-in-the-air status of manager Brian Snitker, who some are reported to want to bring back while others do not. What Rosenthal and Passan are talking about here, however, appears to be far broader and far more serious than any difference of baseball opinions. Indeed, it appears to be the sort of thing that could lead to sanctions against the Braves for rules violations.

John Hart, president of baseball operations, will take over as GM on an interim basis while the club looks for a new GM. He said that the Braves are cooperating with MLB’s investigation but that they will have no further comment at this time.

Obviously we will learn more about this in the coming days.

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).