And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 7, Athletics 6: David Ortiz’s home run in the 10th wins it for Boston. More fun than a game-winning homer for Oritz (ho-hum) was the fact that Mike Napoli stole home in the third inning. OK, it was one of those “steal home when the opposition is paying way more attention to the guy at first base” plays, which should probably be scored some variation on a fielder’s choice or something, but still. Oh, and in the fifth, he homered. With that speed-power combination it’s like he’s like Rickey Henderson or something.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Brandon Cumpton pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only two hits. Probably worth noting that we’ve basically reached Peak Brandon in Major League Baseball these days. I went to Baseball-Reference.com and counted 41 Brandons who have played major league baseball. Twenty-two of them are currently active and another 15 of them have been active no later than 2004.

Reds 4, Blues Jays 3: Johnny Cueto gave up three runs –only one earned — and lowered his NL-leading ERA to 1.86. He gave up seven hits and struck out eight in the process. Also in the process: Brett Lawrie broke his finger while being hit by a pitch and Jose Bautista left with tightness in his leg.

Tigers 10, Indians 4: The Tigers are back in first place after a series sweep in Cleveland. Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in three. They were up 10-1 in the ninth before rookie reliever Chad Smith allowed three runs. Even their mop-up bullpen work is shaky.

Mets 11, Marlins 5: Often-times eleven runs on 17 hits is a week’s worth of output for the Mets. With Jon Niese on the mound, no less, who normally gets boned in the run support department. Just to be safe, though, he laid down a suicide squeeze bunt at one point.

Rays 5, Astros 2: The Rays took three of four. But hey, it’s the Astros. The Rays are 8-18 over their past 26 games, but five of those wins have come against Houston in seven of those 26 games.

Nationals 4, Braves 1: The series split is a win for the Nats who (a) stayed in first place; and (b) have had a whale of a time against the Braves over the past year or so. Some actual wisdom from Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, though, who commented on he face that Atlanta won the first two games of the series but dropped the last two:

“You know what, it’s funny, baseball is. If we would’ve lost the first two games and won the last two games you’d be feeling pretty good about yourselves. It didn’t happen that way, it happened the other way, so you’re not feeling real good about yourself.”

Narratives, baby.

Orioles 8, Yankees 0: The Orioles scored three off Masahiro Tanaka and beat him. That’s quite the accomplishment. I half expected to see Tony Burton come out of the dugout wearing his Duke costume from Rocky IV and yell “He’s worried! You cut him! You hurt him! You see? You see? He’s not a machine, he’s a man!” [Craig returns to his computer after refilling his coffee and sees Bill Simmons running away, cackling after typing that last comment].

Cardinals 5, Phillies 3: Carlos Martinez starts have been bullpen games, really, as he’s not fully stretched out. No fear, though, because the bullpen has been pretty darn good finishing his games out. Here Nick Greenwood, Sam Freeman, Pat Neshek and Trevor Rosenthal combined for four innings of scoreless relief. Mark Ellis drove in two runs, including the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the fourth.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Mariners 2, Royals 1: The Royals came home in first place then they went and done got swept. They’ve lost four in a row, actually. Close games, but still. Roenis Elias allowed one run in six and two-thirds. Mike Zunino homered.

Twins 6, White Sox 5: The four-game sweep for the Twins. Phil Hughes has been fantastic lately, though he wasn’t here. The offense picked him up, though, led by Joe Mauer who had two hits and two RBI.

Dodgers 2, Padres 1: The Dodgers are now winners of 10 of 14 after taking two of three games in San Diego. They haven’t lost a series in Petco since 2010. If you believe in crowd support actually helping teams it’s not hard to understand why. I went to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco last September and the place is basically Dodger Stadium South.

Brewers 6, Rockies 5: Oh dear. Oh my. How — er, just. Oh my:

[mlbvideo id=”33960507″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

The guy after Dickerson homered, which — if Dickerson had either not stumbled or simply been at third base, would’ve tied the game. That’s the sixth loss in a row and the second straight series sweep for the Rockies. Who look as if they’re playing little league ball lately.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: Madison Bumgarner allowed an unearned run and that’s it over eight. Brandon Crawford scored a run and drove on in. The Giants are the epicenter of Peak Brandon, by the way, with Crawford, Belt and Hicks. To bad Brandon Wood was a bust. Maybe he coulda found his way to San Francisco, allowing the Giants to field the first-ever All-Brandon infield.

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Matt Shoemaker won his fifth straight decision and C.J. Cron and Kole Calhoun homered in the fourth off Yu Darvish. By the way, we’re also at Peak C.J. these days. Five C.J.s have played major league baseball four of whom are active and two of which play for the Angels.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”