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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Twins 5, Indians 4: Max Kepler hit three homers and drove in four en route to a four-RBI night. Which is to say that the Kepler put the ball into orbit multiple times. I mean, there was some serious planetary motion on that horsehide. Just an astronomical night for Kepler.

Rockies 3, Cubs 1: Rockies starter Peter Lambert made his big league debut and all he did was allow one run on four hits over seven innings, striking out nine and beating the Cubs in Wrigley. It gets harder, kid, but enjoy it. And hey, since this was such a nice outing I’ll wait until his next start to observe that “Peter Lambert” sounds less like the name of a big league pitcher than the name of a star of a series of direct-to-VHS action and/or erotic thriller movies from the early 1990s. And I mean that as a compliment. Find the IMDb page for one of those sorts of actors someday and peruse. Those guys friggin’ work. My hat’s off to anyone who works as hard as a ham-and-egger actor worked in the home video age.

Astros 8, Mariners 7: A fourteen-inning marathon in which the winning run scored when Myles Straw led off the 14th inning with a triple and then came home on a Yuli Gurriel sac fly. Not that the Mariners made it easy. The game went this long because Seattle tied it with rallies in the ninth and 10th. They almost prolonged it — or out-and-out won it — by loading the bases in the bottom of the 14th via three walks from Chris Devenski, but he somehow wriggled out of it. After the game A.J. Hinch was quoted saying, “all’s well that ends well.” Which, since I didn’t watch this one, leads me to believe that the game included the betrothal of a low-born healer to a philandering nobleman, a convoluted swap-out of the wife and some virgin he’s trying to seduce, an inexplicable adoption, a superfluous subplot involving some guys pretending to be enemy soldiers to embarrass their cowardly friend and a totally unearned ending that turns on an implausible change of heart. I don’t know. It sounds like it was a problem game.  

Athletics 7, Angels 4: Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano each drove in a couple, Mark Canha reached base four times. Piscotty homered, by the way, and this is how the AP gamer described its place in the game:

Piscotty’s seventh-inning homer was only a grace note on a second straight symphonic display of run production by an offense that can do more than blast the long ball.

As someone who wakes up at 0-dark-thirty to make Shakespeare and Johannes Kepler cracks, I appreciate this anonymous beat writer’s moxie.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Starter Dakota Hudson allowed one run on five hits in six and a third. Paul DeJong hit a tie-breaking, two-run homer in the seventh. The Cardinals stole four bases. They’re now tied for the league lead with 37. That’s cool, but I suppose it’s relative. The Cards stole their 37th base on June 6. In 1985 Vince Coleman alone stole his 37th base on June 4. This doesn’t matter, of course. I just like to talk about how different and weird 1980s baseball was sometimes.

Mets 7, Giants 3: Amed Rosario and Dominic Smith hit back-to-back home runs in the first, Pablo Sandoval and Brandon Belt homered later to give the Giants a 3-2 lead and then Todd Frazier homered in the eighth to put the Mets back on top for good. Those two Giants homers were two of only three hits San Francisco had on the day. That’s not gonna get it done.

Padres 5, Nationals 4: Washington jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead but then starter Patrick Corbin coughed up five runs in five innings and that was that. Rather disorienting for a Nats starter to blow a game as opposed to a Nats reliever, but major leaguers are adaptable that way. Hunter Renfroe hit a two-run homer. Fernando Tatís Jr. returned for San Diego. He singled in the fifth and scored, with his wheels apparently pressuring Anthony Rendon into committing an error that led to two unearned runs. That’s what speed do.

Pirates 6, Braves 1: Mike Foltynewicz continues to struggle. He has given up 15 homers, which is just shy of the league lead at the moment. This from a guy who missed the first month of the season. Yeah, I think the Braves could use Dallas Keuchel. Chris Archer, meanwhile, cruised, allowing one run over six. Josh Bell had three doubles and knocked in two to give him 58 RBI on the year. Pittsburgh took two of three from Atlanta.

Rays 6, Tigers 1: Travis d'Arnaud hit two two-run homers and an opener/bullpen day resulted in Rays pitchers scattering eight hits and allowing one run in total. Will Adames went deep as well. Tampa Bay took two of three from the Tigers in a rare series win for them at Comerica Park. Of course this isn’t exactly the caliber of Tigers team the Rays have tended to face in Comerica Park over the years. Expect such series wins to be less rare for at least the next few seasons.

Red Sox 7, Royals 5: Boston sweeps Kansas City, outscoring the Royals 23-8 over the three-game series. Mookie Betts homered off of Danny Duffy. He is now 7-for-11 with five home runs against Duffy in his career. I’ve owned household appliances less-thoroughly than Betts owns Duffy.

Brewers 5, Marlins 1: Christian Yelich and Mike Moustakas homered in the first and Moustakas went deep again in the third. That was more than enough support for Freddy Peralta, who only allowed one over six. At one stretch of the game Peralta struck out eight of nine batters, most of whom probably had one foot on the charter back to Miami within ten minutes of the National Anthem ending. Milwaukee salvaged the third of the three-game series after getting outscored a combined 24-3 in the first two games.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 2: Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer in the second and after that the Yankees cruised. Gio Urshela homered too. J.A. Happ allowed only one run over innings to win his fifth straight decision. The Yankees salvage the finale of the three-game set.

Rangers 4, Orioles 3: A rash of injuries to Baltimore outfielders forced Chris Davis into duty in right field for the first time in three years. It didn’t go well. In the fifth inning, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa on first, Delino DeShields hit a routine single to right, only to have it skip past Davis’ glove. Kiner-Falefa scored the go-ahead run and DeShields ended up on third. He’d then come around to score what ended up being the run that gave the Rangers their margin of victory on a Danny Santana sac fly. Stuff happens, man. You only got so many bodies to put on the field and sometimes one of those bodies is Chris Davis.

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.”