And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Astros 5, Athletics 1Colby Rasmus homered twice and George Springer hit a two-run homer of his own as Houston takes two of three to stabilize themselves after that hellacious road trip. One and a half back of Texas who lost and two and a half up on their wild card challengers.

Yankees 11_, Mets 2: CC Sabathia was shaky as heck early on but the Mets couldn’t deliver. That allowed the Yankees to hang around and then put up a five-spot in the sixth after Matt Harvey, who had been dominating but is on a work load limit, left, the Mets forgot how to play defense and Carlos Beltran and Dustin Ackley made them pay with big hits. Greg Bird added a three-run homer in a five-run eighth later on which allowed anyone who wasn’t already watching the Emmy Awards to switch to ’em and allowed the rest of us to continue reading Richard Stark’s “The Outfit” which all of you should do it, for no other reason, than to learn how the numbers racket technically works. It’s sort of like the lottery, by the way, except the lottery has fewer transfers of money in sci-fi magazines and the numbers give you a better chance to win.

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Three errors for the Jays, two by pitchers, one by a catcher as Toronto drops two of three to the Sox. Now they have the Yankees in town for three, with a chance to put ’em away for the year or find themselves right back in a tight race. Beauty of baseball: it just keeps going and going.

Royals 10, Tigers 3: Not sure what’s more amazing: that Kendrys Morales had three homers and a triple and 15 total bases or that he did all of that and only drove in three runs. He scored five times, though. Runs > RBI, folks. You know in your heart it’s true.

Indians 6, White Sox 3: Lonnie Chisenhall hit a homer and drove in three as the Indians keep pace with the Twins and Astros. Unfortunately they’ve been so up and down lately that they’re still four back with 14 to play the Angels are ahead of them too. Math and the calendar are not their friends at the moment.

Rays 7, Orioles 6: Baltimore had a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth but Zach Britton blew it by giving up a homer to Brandon Guyer and then allowed a triple to Evan Longoria, walked a couple of dudes and then allowed a walkoff infield single to Kevin Kiermaier, plating Longoria. One bright spot for the O’s is that they’ve reached the part of the season where they can use their iPads to book October vacations with their wives and girlfriends without having to hide the screen.

Braves 2, Phillies 1: With this sweep the Braves most likely ensured that they wouldn’t finish with the worst record in baseball this year but, rather, Philly will. I suppose it’s possible for Philly to make up those four games, but it’s not super likely. A.J. Pierzynski played the hero here, hitting the walkoff single. So strange seeing a long-time heel being a hero like A.J. has been this year, but it’s not like the Braves have had many other options. Other unexpected face-turns? Randy Savage? Roddy Piper? Frankly, face turns are boring anyway. It’d be way better if Freddie Freeman attacked someone with a chair and turned heel instead.

Nationals 13, Marlins 3: Stephen Strasburg struck out 10 and allowed only one earned run in seven innings. Four driven in by Oo-ee-oo infielder Yunel Escobar and oh-oh-oh three more runs by Tyler Moore. I don’t care what they say about us anyway. I don’t care bout that.

Brewers 8, Reds 4: I wonder what the breakdown of fans in each city caring more about the Packers and Bengals over the Brewers and Reds are at this point of the year? 95-5%? OK, maybe not that bad as there are right-thinking people who only like baseball and think football is awful. But whatever the number is, I bet the shift to football is more stark among fans of these two teams than fans of any other two teams who matched up yesterday.

Twins 8, Angels 1: Minnesota arrests a five-game losing skid and remains two and a half back of the Astros. Rookie Tyler Duffey allowed three hits in seven shutout innings while Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer and Torii Hunter homered.

Cardinals 4, Cubs 3Carlos Martinez allowed two runs on four hits while pitching into the seventh and Tommy Pham and Stephen Piscotty each homered. Bad news, though: Yadier Molina leaving with a thumb injury. Contrary to what Cardinals fans often say, Molina is not the single most valuable or indispensable player in baseball, but his loss for any length of time would hurt the Cardinals. Mostly because, yes, he is still an excellent player. Partially, however, because I have come to believe that he is the actual keeper of the Cardinals Devil Magic.

Mariners 9, Rangers 2: Felix Hernandez won his 18th and Robinson Cano drove in four. Five of those 18 wins have come against the Rangers, which I believe makes Hernandez a minority owner in the club, which entitles him to part-time use of a suite and stuff. Not his best outing — he walked five guys and left with a stiff elbow — but that just gives him more time to use that suite.

Giants 5, Diamondbacks 1: Six scoreless for Tim Hudson and a three-run homer for Buster Posey. That ends a six-game home losing streak by the Giants to the Diamondbacks. I suppose I’d be happier if I lived in Phoenix and got to take trips to San Francisco too.

Pirates 4, Dodgers 3: The Pirates’ win gives them a two-game lead over Chicago for the top seed in a would-be wild card game between them. Gerrit Cole won his 17th, allowing three runs on six hits in seven innings and striking out nine.

Padres 10, Rockies 4: A homer and two doubles for Matt Kemp who has been on fire in the second half and a win for James Shields, who pitched a two-hitter into the seventh inning. Yangervis Solarte, Jedd Gyorko and Cory Spangenberg also homered. Justin Upton had three hits and drove in three. No idea where all that went the rest of the season.

 

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.”