Potent quotables: 'Hang close'

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“It’s not been an easy road. Our goal is to hang
close. We want to catch them. We’ve got some pretty tough guys out
there in the clubhouse and we want to catch [the Tigers]. You have to
grind it out and keep playing.”




– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after the Twins moved to within 2 1/2 games of the idle Tigers
with a 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Monday night. The Twins hope
to stick close with a four-game series against the AL Central leaders
next week.



“I’ve got two more starts, and that’s all I can concern myself with is
one pitch, one inning at a time. I know that sounds cliche … It’s been a tough year, and
I haven’t been able to get anything going. … I’m looking forward to
have two more starts and if you want to use the word ‘salvage,’ then
that probably fits well.”




– Kyle Lohse would love to join his teammates on the postseason roster.
He allowed three runs over six innings as the Cardinals moved their
magic number to three with a 7-3 win over the Astros on Monday night.




“We have a lot of the base we need for a winning team, a playoff team,
a World Series team. For years to come, we have great
players and great camaraderie. I think this team is on an upswing.”




– Barry Zito, as the Giants moved to within four games of the idle-Rockies
in the Wild Card race with a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday
night. The playoffs are starting to long like a longshot, but at the
very least, the Giants have clinched their first non-losing season
since 2004.




“It seems like we’ve been on sort of a gradual downward spiral since we
made it to the World Series (in 2005), and I think you can’t just point
to one thing. There are several
factors involved in that. If there was ever an environment for sweeping
reform or change, this would be it.”




– Lance Berkman, who finds his team on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Giants. Third base coach Dave Clark was promoted to interim manager following the dismissal of Cecil Cooper on Monday.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.