German Márquez loses no-hit bid in eighth inning vs. Giants

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Update (6:49 PM ET): Márquez finished the one-hit shutout, striking out nine on the afternoon. It’s the first shutout in the majors since Noah Syndergaard on September 30 against the Marlins last year. It’s the first one-hit shutout since Andrew Heaney on June 5 last year against the Royals.

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Update (6:11 PM ET): Aaand… it’s over. Evan Longoria was able to sneak a single in the hole between third baseman Nolan Arenado (who made a tremendous play on the previous at-bat) and shortstop Trevor Story.

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Rockies starter German Márquez has held the Giants hitless through seven innings at Oracle Park in San Francisco on Sunday afternoon. The right-hander, recently signed to a five-year contract extension, hit Kevin Pillar with a pitch to begin the bottom of the sixth but has otherwise kept the Giants off the bases. Márquez has racked up seven strikeouts and thrown 76 pitches in total thus far.

The Rockies’ offense has provided four runs of support for Márquez against Giants starter Derek Holland. Trevor Story hit an RBI double to break a scoreless tie in the third inning and Nolan Arenado blasted a three-run homer in the fifth.

Márquez, 24, entered Sunday’s start with a 3.00 ERA and a 16/6 K/BB ratio in 18 innings on the season. He broke out last year, posting a 3.77 ERA while striking out 230 batters across 33 starts and 196 innings. Of course, Márquez’s performance was all the more respectable considering 16 of those starts came at hitter-friendly Coors Field.

Ubaldo Jiménez was the last Rockie to toss a no-hitter, doing so on April 17, 2010 against the Braves. The Giants were last no-hit by the Reds’ Homer Bailey on July 2, 2013. Major League Baseball hasn’t seen a no-hitter since James Paxton held the Blue Jays hitless on May 8, 2018 last year.

We’ll keep you updated as Márquez attempts to navigate the final two innings.

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.”