Twins sweep Tigers, increase lead to 3.5 games

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Minnesota finished a three-game sweep of Detroit this afternoon and now leads the AL Central by 3.5 games.
Alex Avila took Jon Rauch deep in the ninth inning for the Tigers’ fourth homer of the day, cutting the Twins’ lead to 5-4, but the replacement closer retired the next three batters to convert his eighth save in nine chances filling in for Joe Nathan.
As they’ve done all season the Twins put runs on the board despite multiple failures with the bases loaded. Minnesota has 45 at-bats with the bases loaded to lead all of baseball, but the Twins have hit a putrid .156 with zero homers in those spots. And yet the Twins still rank third in the league in runs per game behind only the Rays and Yankees.
If their bases loaded luck ever evens out the Twins might be able to put the AL Central away by the All-Star break. Right now the Tigers are the only team in the division within seven games and the Twins are on a 110-win pace.

Report: Giants in “serious discussions” with Reds to acquire Billy Hamilton

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Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that the Giants are engaged in “serious discussions” with the Reds to acquire center fielder Billy Hamilton. Talks are apparently advanced enough that a deal could be completed before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.

It’s no secret that the Giants would like to make an upgrade in the outfield this offseason, as the club has also been linked to Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. Currently, the Giants’ outfield consists of Denard Span, Hunter Pence, and Jarrett Parker.

Hamilton, 27, owns a meager .248/.298/.334 batting line across parts of five seasons in the majors with the Reds. However, he has plenty of speed, having stolen at least 56 bases in each of the last four seasons. Hamilton is also well-regarded for his defense, which would be a boon at spacious AT&T Park.

Hamilton is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He’s projected to earn $5 million for this coming season. Buchanan notes that the Rangers are also interested in potentially acquiring Hamilton.