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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 9, Cubs 4: A five-run eighth inning, kicked off by Curtis Granderson‘s 300th career homer and extended by Lucas Duda‘s three-run blast put the Mets ahead comfortably. Neil Walker left the game with hamstring injury as he ran down the line. That’s a blow for the Mets, as he’s been en fuego of late, batting .321 with 23 RBI, 7 HR, 9 doubles & 26 runs scored over his previous 36 games. Also: Kyle Schwarber hit a moon shot homer.

Diamondbacks 2, Tigers 1: Jordan Zimmermann pitched his best game of the year (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) but it didn’t matter because Taijuan Walker, Randall Delgado and Fernando Rodney combined to pitch a better one. The two runs scored by the Dbacks in the first inning held up. I watched this game and, as it unfolded, my belief that Zimmermann looks like the well-meaning dad in a TV movie was solidified. The one who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with his teenage daughter and whose misunderstanding of her leads to a lot of drama in the middle section, but who toward the end, when some sort of teenage crisis emerges, shows that he’s always there for her, despite their differences. He’s a good man, and his daughter comes to realize it too:

“Heather, I know the dance is important to you, but there are REASONS your mother and I are not letting you go.”

Blue Jays 7, Rays 6: Kendrys Morales drove in four via a three-run homer and a fielder’s choice, but it took an eighth inning Russell Martin homer for the Jays to win after they coughed up a lead. Also, this came from the AP game story, as it stood at 6am this morning:

Obviously it’s Francisco, not Nelson, who hasn’t played since 1998. But I don’t offer this as mockery. Any of you who have been reading this feature for any length of time know that I routinely sub in the first name of long-retired players when a current player has the same last name. Carlos Quintana for Jose, etc. I am TERRIBLE about that. Whoever this AP writer is has my sympathy and thanks for making me not feel so alone in this old man habit.

Braves 13, Nationals 2Brandon Phillips had four hits and three RBI and Julio Teheran had a strong outing as the Braves takes two of three from the Nats. How did you pitch so well against a tough team, Julio?

“I just have to stay focused and execute pitches,” Teheran said. “That’s something I was doing really good — getting ahead in counts and throwing strike one. It was big today.”

Good to know.

Royals 7, Giants 2: Mike Moustakas, Jorge Bonifacio and Lorenzo Cain all homered as the Royals win both in a two-game series. Two-game series are dumb, by the way, but getting only two games in one of the best road cities in the country seems like a super big ripoff for the Royals. They just had three in San Diego and now get four in L.A. so that’s OK, but I’d want more than two days in San Francisco.

Padres 4, Reds 2: Hunter Renfroe hit a two-run shot that tied the score 2-2 in the sixth inning and an RBI groundout for the game’s final run. In between Franchy Cordero hit a go-ahead RBI single. This is the third day in a row I have written “Franchy Cordero,” and this fact makes me enormously happy. Franchy. Franchy. Franchy. Franchy.

Marlins 11, Athletics 6: The A’s took an early 4-0 lead, but then Marcel Ozuna and Tyler Moore hit second inning homers and the comeback began. Ozuna’s third inning groundout RBI tied things up and Dee Gordon‘s RBI single in the fourth put the fish ahead for good. Ozuna knocked in three, Gordon and Christian Yelich knocked in two a piece.

Angels 7, Yankees 5: Leads of 4-0 weren’t very safe yesterday. The Yankees leapt out to that score in the first inning, but the bad Michael Pineda showed up in Anaheim last night, allowing five runs on ten hits in six innings. Andrelton Simmons‘ two-run homer in the seventh gave the Angels the winning margin, but credit to Parker Bridwell and Blake Parker — the Parkers — for picking up a shaky Matt Shoemaker and tossing five innings of one-run ball in middle relief.

Brewers 7, Cardinals 6: Milwaukee mounted an early 6-0 lead. That proved safe, even if the Cards made it close. Three of those early runs came off the bat of Eric Thames, who hit a two-run homer and doubled in a run. And yes, I have written “Marcus Thames” a good half dozen times this year, though I don’t think any have made it to the final post yet.

Astros 13, Rangers 2: Top prospect Derek Fisher got called up yesterday and he didn’t take long to make a good first impression. Fisher homered and had an RBI single in the Astros’ nine-run sixth inning. Factoid from the AP gamer: Fisher is the first player to get the first two hits of his career in the same inning since Adam Laroche did it for the Braves on April 7, 2004. Which means it’s only 12 more years until Fisher retires in a huff because his kid isn’t allowed to be the bench coach or whatever.

Although, really, he may have grandkids already. His bio says he’s only 23, but this looks like a guy who has been playing for 13 years and is just easing into part-time play:

He could play Jordan Zimmermann’s golf buddy in the TV movies. Says stuff like, “I’ve had the same trouble with my daughter, Jordan. But Julie and I are seeing things more eye-to-eye now. You and Heather will soon too.”

Mariners 6, Twins 4Mike Zunino hit a three-run homer. He’s hitting .396 with five home runs since being called up a couple of weeks ago. Mitch Haniger hit a two-run homer too, as the M’s put up an early 5-0 lead on Ervin Santana. The Twins mounted a comeback but it was too little, too late. Eduardo EscobarByron Buxton and Miguel Sano all homered for Minnesota.

Orioles 10, White Sox 6: The White Sox blew a 5-1 lead here, thanks in part to a Wellington Castillo grand slam. Castillo drove in five overall. Trey Mancini had a double and two singles and scored three times. Matt Davidson homered in his third straight game for the Sox.

Dodgers 6, Indians 4: Andrew Miller is supposed to be close to unhittable, but no one has told that to the Dodgers. One night after Cody Bellinger — I will call him Clay at some point — homered off of the Indians’ relief ace, Kiké Hernandez hit a tiebreaking homer off of him in the eighth inning. Miller gave up four runs in two-thirds of an inning, in fact, as the Indians fall to .500. The Dodgers, meanwhile, have won six straight.

Rockies 5, Pirates 1German Marquez allowed only one run over five innings and Ian Desmond homered as the Rockies snap a three-game losing streak. Marquez also knocked in a run on a squeeze play. Benches cleared briefly in this one when Marquez hit Francisco Cervelli with a first pitch fastball, but it was clearly unintentional and only shade, not punches, was thrown.

Red Sox 7, Phillies 3: Mookie Betts hit two homers, hit an RBI double while collecting four hits in all, driving in three. Xander Bogaerts drove in three as well. I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that it’s not the Phillies’ year.

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.”