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Back-to-back Astros homers blow things open in the fifth inning

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The Astros drew first blood in the fourth but they have blown things open in the fifth.

Following their jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Indians went quietly in the fifth, with Justin Verlander striking out Josh Donaldson and Yonder Alonso and getting Melky Cabrera to fly out to end things. Then the Astros came back to bat.

George Springer led off the inning and, after working the count full, took a Corey Kluber cutter out to left field for a leadoff homer to make it 3-0. Two pitches later Jose Altuve jacked a sinker to the same part of the ballpark.

Kluber stayed in but after recording two outs, he gave up a bloop single to Marwin Gonzalez and that was all she wrote. It’s 4-0 and the Indians bullpen is now on the case.

Not the start Cleveland wanted from its ace in Game 1, that’s for sure.

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.