Pirates' Harrison slides into home plate with an inside the park home run against the Reds during their MLB National League baseball game in Cincinnati

Reds finish mailing it in, get swept by Pirates

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It’s not that the Reds had nothing to play for this weekend; winning two out of three against the Pirates would have ensured that Tuesday’s rematch in the wild card game would be at home. Instead, they’ll travel to Pittsburgh for Tuesday’s rematch and elimination game after getting swept in the series.

Right from the get-go on Friday, it hardly seemed as though the Reds’ hearts were in it. They lost that one 4-1 when A.J. Burnett threw four more pitches in eight innings than Homer Bailey did in five (99-95). Saturday’s game saw the Pirates hit six homers. The Reds hit one in the entire series. On Sunday, the regulars mostly started for the third straight day, yet all were pulled after two at-bats in the 4-2 loss. The two runs were actually delivered by third-string catcher Corky Miller.

Now the Reds are going to be expected to suddenly turn it on again Tuesday after five straight losses in which they scored a total of eight runs. It will have been eight days since their previous win. As little as momentum seems to matter in baseball, it makes it difficult to get excited about the Reds’ chances. Besides Shin-Soo Choo and maybe Todd Frazier, no regular is swinging the bat very well. In the matchup of Johnny Cueto vs. Francisco Liriano, there figures to be quite a bit more weight on Cueto’s shoulders at the onset.

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.