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Ivan Nova holds Orioles to three hits in first career shutout

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Ivan Nova tossed his first career shutout while Robinson Cano did the heavy lifting for the offense as the Yankees defeated the Orioles 2-0 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Nova gave up just three hits (all of them singles), one walk, and two hit-by-pitches while striking out five batters. He induced 15 swinging strikes and needed just 103 pitches to finish off the victory. The 26-year-old right-hander has quietly posted a 2.88 ERA and 97/34 K/BB ratio over 109 1/3 innings this season. Hiroki Kuroda has hit a bit of a rough patch recently and CC Sabathia hasn’t looked like an ace all season, but Nova is filling the role of frontline starter quite nicely.

Cano drove in both runs for the Yankees, smacking an RBI double in the first inning and a solo home run in the eighth. Scott Feldman pitched admirably for the Orioles in the loss, allowing just one run on six hits and one walk over seven innings.

With the victory, the Yankees improved to 72-63 on the year and moved ahead of the Orioles in the AL Wild Card race. New York is now four games back while Baltimore is 4.5 games back. The Yankees will go for the series sweep tomorrow when they send Andy Pettitte to the hill against Wei-Yin Chen.

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)
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.