Gary Sanchez
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Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge power Yankees to Game 2 win in ALDS

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The Yankees suffered no shortage of power when they took the field at Fenway Park for Game 2 of the ALDS. After squandering an early lead and narrowly losing Game 1 to the Red Sox on Friday night, they found their mojo again with some help from homegrown sluggers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, both of whom were instrumental in boosting the club to a 6-2 win to tie the series.

Judge kicked things off for the Yankees in the first inning. He clobbered a cutter from Boston left-hander David Price and parked it 445 feet away in the seats atop the Green Monster. Price recovered to retire Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton, but it wasn’t long before he found himself in hot water again. In the top of the second inning, Gary Sanchez returned another cutter to the Green Monster for the Yankees’ second long ball of the night. After a pair of back-to-back walks to Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner, Andrew McCutchen got in on the fun, too, this time with an RBI single that inflated the Yankees’ lead to 3-0.

Price was yanked off the mound after logging just 1 2/3 innings; per Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston, it was the first outing of his career during which he failed to record even one strikeout. The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka, on the other hand, mowed down the Red Sox’ lineup inning after inning. Boston didn’t manage to catch a break until the fourth inning, when Xander Bogaerts jumped on a first-pitch fastball and postmarked it straight out to the center field stands for a solo home run.

Tanaka wrapped up his outing with one run and four strikeouts scattered over five innings, and with the bullpen holding down the fort, the Yankees blew the game wide open in the seventh. Judge hit a leadoff single out to first base, then advanced to third on a walk from Voit and a force out from Stanton. With Judge and Stanton at the corners, Sanchez stepped up to bat and unloaded a mammoth home run — this one a three-run, 479-footer off of Eduardo Rodriguez that left Fenway entirely.

Not only was it a tremendous home run, the likes of which hadn’t yet been seen in the 2018 playoffs, but it earned a place on the Statcast regular season and postseason leaderboards as well (the longest postseason home run in the Statcast era currently belongs to Willson Contreras‘ 491-foot homer in the 2017 NLCS):

With a 6-1 lead behind them, the Yankees cruised through the remaining three innings. Ian Kinsler plated another run for Boston on a one-out double off of Dellin Betances in the bottom of the seventh, but the right-hander managed to squeeze out of the inning without doing any additional damage to the Yankees’ lead. Betances and Zach Britton combined for a scoreless eighth, and Aroldis Chapman subbed in to close out the ninth with a leadoff walk to Steve Pearce, a three-pitch strikeout to Eduardo Nunez, and Kinsler’s game-ending double play to secure the 6-2 win.

The AL East rivals have an off day on Sunday, but will pick up the series again when it shifts to New York on Monday. Right-hander Luis Severino is scheduled to meet Boston righty Rick Porcello on the mound at 7:40 PM EDT, when they’ll each try to gain a much-needed advantage in the ALDS.

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.”