Brendan McKay
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Brendan McKay loses perfecto in MLB debut

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Brendan McKay’s MLB debut was nearly perfect. It’s not often that a pitching prospect can translate superlative minor league results to the majors, but McKay managed to stun the competition there as well, firing 5 1/3 perfect innings in the Rays’ 5-2 win over the Rangers.

After pitching to a pristine 1.08 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, and 9.4 SO/9 in Triple-A Durham, the 23-year-old southpaw was recalled for his first big league gig on Saturday. Against a noisy Rangers’ lineup — one that hadn’t taken a loss in six straight games — McKay delivered five scoreless innings, retiring 13 straight batters before getting his first MLB strikeout in the fifth.

Eventually, however, McKay’s luck ran out. He induced a fly out from Asdrubal Cabrera to start the sixth inning, then watched Danny Santana grab an 0-1 curveball and return it to right field for a single, the Rangers’ first of the game. In the next at-bat, the lefty labored through a nine-pitch battle against Shin-Soo Choo and wound up issuing his first walk of the afternoon, too. By the time he wrapped up his first major-league outing at the end of the sixth, he had one hit, one walk, and three strikeouts under his belt — a little shy of perfect, but hardly shabby for such a highly-anticipated debut.

The Rays, meanwhile, supplemented the rookie’s efforts with an RBI double from Joey Wendle and a handful of home runs from Avisaíl García, Willy Adames, and Travis d'Arnaud. The win boosted them to a 47-36 record, still good for second place in the AL East and a full seven games behind the first-place Yankees.

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.