And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 5, Astros 3: The first round of the biggest four-game series in Texas baseball history goes to the Rangers. It was tied 3-3 before Prince Fielder came up in the bottom of the eighth and smacked a two-run homer off Astros reliever Will Harris for what proved to be the winning runs. Earlier Mitch Moreland hit a homer and Cole Hamels scattered seven hits over seven innings, working his way out of trouble as needed. Only a half game separates these two now.

Orioles 2, Red Sox 0: A race at the opposite end of the spectrum, this one to avoid the cellar in the AL East. Boston “led” that race by a game over Baltimore heading into this one and managed to keep that “lead” thanks to Kevin Gausman and four relievers combining to stifle the Sox.

Nationals 8, Phillies 7: Yesterday Jonathan Papelbon said that he was “one of the few that wanted to actually win” when he played for Philly. Freddy Galvis was either one of those too or else he found the light after Paps left town, because he hit a homer off of him in the 10th inning, causing his former teammate to blow his first save of the season. Papelbon managed to get the win, however, by being the pitcher of record when Yunel Escobar knocked in a run in the 11th for the winning margin. Before that, the Nats hit four homers, including two by Jayson Werth, who drove in five runs.

Indians 8, Royals 3: Very quietly, the Indians have gotten into at least nominal contention, winning their 13th of 18 and pulling to .500. They’re four and a half back of Texas for the second wild card too. Still kind of hard to say they’re a strong contender given that the Angels and Twins stand in between them and Texas and jumping a couple of teams is hard in the last couple of weeks of the season, but still.

Mets 4, Marlins 3Yoenis Cespedes homered once again and David Wright had the go-ahead double in the seventh. It was Cespedes’ ninth homer in the past 13 games.

Yankees 4, Rays 1: Alex Rodriguez hit a tying, two-out RBI double in the ninth — he’s always been clutch, right? — and Slade Heathcott hit a three-run homer to complete the Yankees’ four-run rally. All of this despite the fact that Erasmo Ramirez had a no-hitter going until Carlos Beltran led off the eighth with a single. Ramirez ended up with a one-hit, no-run no-decision and one of those “games which he started, the team lost” factoids for his trouble. George Burns was right: baseball is a hideous bitch-goddess.

White Sox 8, Athletics 7: Chicago blew a four-run lead in the ninth inning — where have you gone Bobby Thigpen? Where have you gone David Robertson, for that matter — but then Melky Cabrera drove in Geovany Soto with two outs in the 14th. I say “but then” as if it just happened right after that, but I imagine there isn’t much longer than the innings between the ninth and the fourteenth when you’ve blown a lead.

Twins 7, Tigers 1: Six runs in the first two innings off of Kyle Lobstein made it an easy night for the Twins. Tyler Duffey struck out seven while allowing one run on seven hits and pitching into the seventh inning. They remain a game back of the Rangers for the second wild card. Although after tonight they could be chasing the Astros instead, I suppose.

Padres 10, Diamondbacks 3: Rain poured through the Chase Field roof into the stands behind home plate at one point here. I feel like this happened a couple of months ago too. I realize that in Phoenix a roof is more designed to keep air conditioning in than rain out, but really guys. The Padres rained on the Diamondbacks’ parade too (note: that there is a professional writer’s segue; do NOT attempt that at home) as Wil Myers hit a leadoff homer in San Diego’s five-run first inning and added a three-run double later in the game. Just a downpour of offense for the Padres. A deluge. Quite a precipitous offensive night. Wait, that’s not what “precipitous” means. Dammit, forget that part. I’ll work on some more later.

Mariners 10, Angels 1: An offensive deluge in Seattle too, though they’re more used to it. Taijuan Walker allowed one run over seven and was backed by a six-run seventh inning. Seth Smith drove in three with a homer and a double.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 1: Clayton Kershaw allowed one run over seven, winning his ninth straight decision and reducing his ERA to 2.12. Justin Turner hit a tie-breaking double in the fifth and Scott Schebler hit a two-run homer in the eighth for insurance.

Giants 5, Reds 3: The fourth straight win for the Giants, doing well in their race for the Pride Division championships at least. Brandon Belt tripled and drove in two. Matt Duffy doubled twice and drove in two.

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.”