And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 9, Nationals 4: The Mookie Betts show. A three-run homer, a home run-saving catch. Two stolen bases on one play because the Nationals, apparently, forgot that when you’re in a shift, no one is covering a third, leaving that bag wide open. The Nats defense overall was a total disaster, with mental lapses, balls plopping onto the turf between two fielders and all of that jazz. It’s been like that the entire first week of the season. Which shows you that, even when you’re everyone’s World Series favorite, you still have to play good baseball.

Mets 2, Phillies 0: The Phillies are going to make a lot of pitchers look good this year, even the bad ones. So when a good one like Jacob deGrom faces them, welp, this sort of thing is going to happen. A shutout into the seventh supported by an infield single and a sac fly.

Pirates 5, Tigers 4: The dream of 162-0 is over for the Tigers. Alas. They had their chances, but Jared Hughes bailed Gerrit Cole out of a a no-out, bases-loaded situation in the seventh and Mark Melancon bent but did not break in the ninth. Josh Harrison, Pedro Alvarez and Corey Hart all homered for Pittsburgh, which has won 3 of 4.

Royals 12, Twins 3: The Royals, however, still have a shot at 162-0, right? At this rate, why not? The bullpen has been amazing and unlike last year they’re not jus eking by in the one run games. Get this:

Rany later went back and checked and, yes, that extends back to the beginning of the American League as well.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4: Carlos Gomez had two hits and an RBI for the Brewers in what Ron Roenicke called “an ugly win.” But this play from K-Rod was pretty:

[mlbvideo id=”72349283″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Rockies 2, Giants 0: The Giants raised their banner and carried out their trophies and stuff, then got shut out. Rockies rookie starter Eddie Butler outdueled Giants rookie starter Chris Heston, tossing five and a third shutout innings. Heston only allowed one earned run, but the Rockies’ second run was his fault as he committed an error to allow a run to score. The earned run rules are dumb.

Yankees 6, Orioles 5: Stephen Drew had to pinch hit for Brett Gardner after Gardner needed to exit following an earlier hit-by-pitch. No worries, as all Drew did was hit a grand slam in the seventh to put the Yankees up by two. Chris Young and Mark Teixeira also homered. That’s two in a row for the Yankees. Winning streak.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: The Rays runs scored on consecutive bases-loaded walks by R.A. Dickey. It was three walks in a row for Dickey, actually, all after he had recorded two outs. Tampa Bay starter Jake Odorizzi allowed one run over eight innings to spoil the Jays home opener.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: Reading some news stories and random Twitter comments, the whole “the Braves are playing small ball, doing the little things” narrative is clearly starting to take hold. Someone call Whitey Herzog, then, and tell him that they’re defining small ball down. In the fourth it maybe sorta looked like small ball, as Christian Bethancourt made his way around the bases without the aid of a hit, but it also came via a Marlins throwing error and a wild pitch. And the inning ended with another Braves runner caught stealing. The other two runs came the next inning via a combo of single-double-single-single. Yes, the Braves have been really home run dependent, but stringing hits together is not the same thing as “small ball.” I know I probably should care — hey, my team won! — but I don’t want to encourage Fredi Gonzalez into thinking he’s some master button-pusher.

Angels 6, Rangers 3: The Rangers jumped out with three in the first, but Angels’ starter Matt Shoemaker bounced back and didn’t allow anything else while pitching into the seventh. LAA got a pair of two-run homers from Collin Cowgill and David Freese in the fifth inning and they never looked back.

Cubs 7, Reds 6: Jon Lester was roughed up pretty good — and revealed that, yeah, maybe he has the yips — giving up six runs on 10 hits over six innings, putting his ERA at 7.84. Jorge Soler helped bail him out, however, hitting two two-run homers. The Reds bullpen imploded here, as they were up 6-4 when starter Mike Leake left after seven innings. Jumbo Diaz gave up one of those Soler homers to tie it. In the tenth everything unraveled, as relief pitchers who were not Aroldis Chapman allowed the Cubs to win. Such a shame that God Almighty Himself handed down that Commandment about not using your closer in a tie game on the road because He in all of His wisdom and glory has declared the save statistic to be sacred.

Athletics 8, Astros 1: Hey, Evan Gattis finally got a hit. His line on the season is now .042/.080/.042, which is sort of satisfying looking, aesthetically speaking. That was it for Houston highlights, however. Billy Butler hit a three-run homer in the fifth, but the game was already decided by then. Scott Kazmir allowed one run over six.

Dodgers 6, Mariners 5: Alex Guerrero hit a bases-loaded single with two outs in the 10th inning for the walkoff win, in a game the Dodgers trailed 4-0 in the fourth inning. Nelson Cruz hit two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause. Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy gave up four homers but also struck out ten dudes. That combo doesn’t happen often, according to the Elias Sports bureau. But I suppose both results are a function of guys on the other team hacking like hell.

Diamondbacks 8, Padres 4: Ender Inciarte hit two doubles, a triple and drove in four. If the sports headline in the Arizona Republic is not “Ender’s Game” today, I’m just giving up.

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.”