Report: Padres “aggressively looking for hitters” in hopes of contending immediately

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We see a lot of interesting reports at this time of the year, but this one made me chuckle a little bit:

What a concept. It’s easier said than done, of course, especially with the lack of options available on the free agent market. Most of the big bats have already signed — the latest being Nelson Cruz today — which leaves an underwhelming field highlighted by the likes of Chase Headley, Melky Cabrera, Alex Rios, Nick Markakis, Colby Rasmus, Jed Lowrie, Torii Hunter, and Asdrubal Cabrera. It’s not like we’d expect the Padres to spend big money anyway, so the trade market is likely where they’ll turn. The Braves are reportedly dangling Justin Upton and Evan Gattis while the Red Sox appear willing to deal Yoenis Cespedes, so there are options out there.

The Padres were fourth in the majors with a 3.27 ERA this past season, so it’s not hard to imagine them as a sleeper team if they get an infusion of offense. But new general manager A.J. Preller really has his work cut out for him here. The Padres were last in the majors in nearly every major offensive category in 2014. It’s hard to move the needle significantly in one offseason.

Yankees keep ALCS hopes alive with 4-1 win over Astros

Gio Urshela
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The Yankees defeated the Astros 4-1 during Game 5 of the American League Championship Series on Friday night, staving off a potential postseason elimination and forcing the series to at least six games.

In just the third playoff appearance of his career, Yankees southpaw James Paxton turned in another impressive performance, limiting the Astros to four hits and four walks over six innings of one-run ball. According to MLB Stats, his nine strikeouts made him the second Yankees lefty to record multiple starts of 8+ strikeouts in the same postseason campaign, two decades after David Wells did so for the 1998 championship-winning club.

Paxton’s strong outing was backed by a handful of runs from DJ LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks, both of whom went deep against Astros ace Justin Verlander in the bottom of the first inning. LeMahieu’s leadoff solo shot marked his first postseason home run since Game 1 of the ALDS, while Hicks’ three-run 347-footer was his first home run of any variety since July 24 (and his first in the playoffs since the 2017 ALDS).

Neither team managed a single run after the first inning, leaving the two pitching staffs to duke it out for eight quick innings. Verlander outlasted Paxton — taking the game through the seventh with five hits, four runs, and nine strikeouts — but even with a flawless contribution from Brad Peacock in the eighth, there was little the hurlers could do to help the Astros solve Paxton and an airtight Yankees bullpen.

With the win, the Yankees will try to push the series to a full seven games in order to snatch the AL pennant from the Astros. They’ll have to do in Houston, however, as the Astros will regain home field advantage when Game 6 kicks off on Saturday at 8:08 PM EDT. Neither starter has been announced yet; per Houston skipper A.J. Hinch, it will likely be a bullpen day.