Elsa/Getty Images

Yankees defeat Athletics 7-2, advance to ALDS to face Red Sox

20 Comments

One half of the ALDS will feature an AL East rivalry after the Yankees dispatched of the Athletics 7-2 in Wednesday night’s Wild Card game in the Bronx. They’ll move on to face the Red Sox in a best-of-five series starting on Friday.

Aaron Judge staked starter Luis Severino to an early lead, belting a two-run home run on a rope to left field off of Athletics “opener” Liam Hendriks. Lou Trevino handled the next three innings for the A’s and pitched admirably, holding the Yankees scoreless. Shawn Kelley did likewise in the fifth.

In the sixth, the Yankees opened the floodgates. Facing veteran Fernando Rodney to open the frame, Aarons Judge and Hicks each doubled to plate a run. Rodney then uncorked a wild pitch while facing Giancarlo Stanton, allowing Hicks to move to third base. That prompted manager Bob Melvin to bring in Blake Treinen. Treinen finished off the at-bat by walking Stanton, who then stole second base. Treinen served up a two-run single to Luke Voit, making the score 5-0. Voit was promptly brought home on a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius.

Severino wound up going four scoreless innings for the Yankees, yielding a pair of hits and four walks while striking out seven on 87 pitches. Dellin Betances pitched immaculately, facing the minimum over two innings with three strikeouts. David Robertson worked a scoreless seventh. Zach Britton allowed the A’s to get on the board in the eighth, serving up a two-run home run to the opposite field to Khris Davis. Giancarlo Stanton immediately got back one of those runs for the Yankees, smashing a solo home run down the left field line in the bottom of the eighth off of Treinen to make it 7-2.

Aroldis Chapman took over in the top of the ninth, tasked with protecting a five-run lead. He gave up a leadoff single to Marcus Semien, but rebounded to strike out Jonathan Lucroy and Mark Canha before getting Matt Chapman to ground out to end the game.

It’s a sad end for the A’s, who won 97 games during the regular season and are now out after losing one postseason game. One wonders what might have been in store for them had they been in the AL Central rather than the AL West. Meanwhile, the 100-win Yankees will gear up for a match-up with the 108-win Red Sox. It will be the first postseason meeting between the Yankees and Red Sox since the 2004 ALCS.

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.”