Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer dueled. Chris Archer, by one measure, pitched better. Felix Hernandez won.

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Quite a pitcher’s duel in Tropicana Field this afternoon as Felix Hernandez and the Mariners took on Chris Archer and the Rays.

Archer actually outpitched — or at least out game-scored — Hernandez for eight innings. Archer shut down the Mariners’ lineup, allowing only two hits in eight innings, not walking anyone and striking out 12. That’s a 90 game score which makes it the third best performance by that metric all season. Through eight innings Hernandez matched him in the runs allowed department, though he did walk a guy, allowed two more hits and struck out “only” six.

Then the ninth inning happened. Kevin Cash took the ball from Archer, who had thrown only 95 pitches. Maybe he was getting tired. Maybe Cash just thought it was time for his closer, Brad Boxberger to come in. The same Boxberger who took the loss in extras last night when he gave up a homer to Kyle Seager. He’d get back up on that horse this time, right?

Nope: he retired two batters but walked two batters and then gave up a three-run homer to Nelson Cruz. Felix Hernandez, who had only thrown 86 pitches through his eight innings, came out for the ninth and set the Rays down in order, striking out two more guys. Ballgame.

What a pair of performances. What a change of luck for Felix Hernandez, who until this year tended to get no-decisions in games like these.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.