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What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

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On May 18, the Rangers suffered a series sweep at the hands of the Athletics, dropping to 22-19. Since then, the Rangers have won 80 percent — 80 percent! — of their games. They’re 24-6 in their last 30 games, and they’re currently riding a seven-game winning streak. As a result, the Rangers enter play Tuesday 9.5 games ahead of the Mariners in first place in the AL West. Only the Cubs with 47 wins have achieved victory more often than the Rangers (46).

The Rangers have done this with DH Prince Fielder putting up a .583 OPS, Yu Darvish only being healthy enough to make three starts, Mitch Moreland having a down year, and Derek Holland pitching poorly. There hasn’t been any one particular player who has been shouldering most of the workload; rather, it’s been players like Jurickson Profar coming up and performing well (.873 OPS), Ian Desmond overcoming a slow start (.867 OPS), Colby Lewis having a career year (2.81 ERA), and Cole Hamels doing what he was brought to Arlington to do (2.88 ERA).

Lewis will toe the slab at 8:05 PM EDT on Tuesday night as the Rangers host Anthony DeSclafani and the Reds. Lewis flirted with a perfect game his last time out.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Colorado Rockies (Chad Bettis) @ New York Yankees (Ivan Nova), 7:05 PM EDT

San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Wilfredo Boscan), 7:05 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Patrick Corbin) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Marco Estrada), 7:07 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Bud Norris) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (James Paxton) @ Detroit Tigers (Justin Verlander), 7:10 PM EDT

Tampa Bay Rays (Blake Snell) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 7:10 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright) @ Chicago Cubs (Jason Hammel), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Houston Astros (Collin McHugh), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Aaron Nola) @ Minnesota Twins (Tyler Duffey), 8:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Oakland Athletics (Sonny Gray), 10:05 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Tanner Roark) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Scott Kazmir), 10:10 PM EDT

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.”