Associated Press

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

9 Comments

Some history was made last night, as the Minnesota Twins became the first team to make the playoffs after losing 100 games the previous season. Also, the Cubs made the playoffs for the third straight year for the first time since 1906-08. Not too bad.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: The Cubs clinch their second straight NL Central crown, doing it this time on the field of their rival, the Cardinals. Addison Russell hit a three-run homer. John Lackey allowed one run over six innings. Michael Wacha allowed five runs over six innings, though none of those came in innings one through six. He began the seventh but would never escape it, getting hammered with hit after hit while Mike Matheney, apparently, slept with his eyes open in the Cardinals dugout, oblivious to the fact that his starter was out of gas.

Indians 4, Twins 2: The Indians won, with Danny Salazar pitching well even if he didn’t qualify for the win. Not that this game mattered too much in hindsight, as the Twins sat around afterward, watched the Angels lose and thus clinched the Wild Card, triggering a two-hours-after-the-fact champagne party in the visiting clubhouse of Progressive Field.

White Sox 6, Angels 4: Nicky Delmonico ended the Angels’ postseason hopes and clinched the Wild Card for the Twins with a tenth inning walkoff two-run home run off of Blake Parker. Well done. That was a choice bit of hitting, Nicky. Though we may not have thought much given that you — a cornfed boy from Tennessee — were selected in the 6th round, we all look forward to your prime.

Rockies 15, Marlins 9Ian Desmond hit a three-run homer as part of a six-run second inning that helped sink Miami. Six late runs by the Marlins made this one look a bit closer than it was. The Rockies have a two and a half game lead for the second Wild Card with three games to play.

Reds 6, Brewers 0: The Cubs’ clinching the division closed off one avenue to the playoffs for Milwaukee. The Rockies’ win over the Marlins narrowed a second. Their play, however, is the biggest obstacle. Here Brandon Woodruff got shelled for all six of the Reds’ runs in his two and a third innings of work. Craig Counsell went to eight different relievers after him, none of who surrendered a run, but Milwaukee’s bats couldn’t do anything against Homer Bailey, who tossed seven shutout innings. Joey Votto hit his 36th home run. Tucker Barnhart added another.

Astros 12, Rangers 2: Justin Verlander allowed two runs in six innings and struck out 11, winning his fifth straight stat. George Springer hit a grand slam. Jose Altuve notched his 200th hit for the fourth straight season, which is a pretty rare feat these days. The Astros outscored the Rangers 37-7 in the three-game series.

Athletics 6, Mariners 5: It was tied at five in the bottom of the ninth when Mark Canha hit a walkoff solo homer. Canha only has five homers this year but two of them have been walkoff jobs. Matt Joyce had three doubles. The A’s won their 15th game in the month of September, ensuring a winning month. They’ve not won more games than they’ve lost in a month since April of 2016.

Diamondbacks 4, Giants 3: Another walkoff win, this of the walkoff walk variety. David Peralta was the one showing the patience at a critical time, with his bases-loaded free pass capping a three-run rally in the bottom of the ninth for the Diamondbacks. J.D. Martinez hit a homer to start off the rally. How novel that he has hit a home run. Sam Dyson was the victimized Giants reliever, allowing three runs on three hits and two walks. The season, sadly, is ending for him much the way it began when he was back with the Rangers.

Yankees 6, Rays 1: Luis Severino allowed one run on four hits over six innings, striking out nine, while Starlin Castro, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks went deep. New York is three games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with four games to play.

Phillies 7, Nationals 5Aaron Altherr went 2-for-4 with a triple and drove in two. Phillies relievers threw four and two-thirds scoreless innings to lock this one down. The Nats now know they’re facing the Cubs in the NLDS. Otherwise they’re just trying to stay healthy until next week.

Pirates 5, Orioles 3Josh Bell hit a two-run homer in the third that made it 4-3 Buccos and the rest was academic. Gregory Polanco homered too. In a game that is meaningless, the biggest cheer may have come when Pedro Alvarez came to bat for Baltimore and was greeted warmly by the Pittsburgh crowd. Maybe more warmly than when he played for the Pirates.

Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 7: Rick Porcello was shaky, allowing five runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds, but Xander Bogaerts‘ three-run homer and four RBI led a 13-hit Boston attack that gave him a big enough margin for error. That’s not something the Sox want to see in the playoffs, of course. Boston’s magic number is two.

Mets 7, Braves 1: Robert Gsellman allowed one run over six innings and Travis d'Arnaud drove in three. This was probably Terry Collins’ last game as a manager at Citi Field.

Royals 7, Tigers 4: The Tigers had a 3-0 lead early and led 3-2 as late as the seventh but Paulo Orlando hit a two-run homer that frame to put the Royals up for good. Detroit has lost nine in a row and are planning final day gimmicks. Gonna be plenty of seats available in Comerica Park next season.

Dodgers 10, Padres 0:Rich Hill allowed two hits over seven shutout innings and Yasiel Puig, Curtis Granderson and Corey Seager homered for L.A. The Dodgers outscored the Padres 29-5 over the three game series and have won six of seven overall. Looks like lack of momentum is out as an excuse if they don’t make noise in the playoffs.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

8 Comments

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.”