DJ LeMahieu
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Yankees take ALDS lead with 10-4 win over Twins


The Yankees ran away with Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday, defeating the AL Central champion Twins by a score of 10-4 and gaining an early 1-0 lead in the series.

Although they finished a close second to the Twins in regular season home runs (306 to 307), the Yankees out-hit their AL rivals at every turn during Friday’s contest. Jorge Polanco led off the first inning with a solo shot against postseason newcomer James Paxton, followed by a 339-foot blast from Nelson Cruz in the third. In the bottom of the third inning, however, the Yankees rebounded with a three-run rally, capitalizing on Edwin Encarnación’s RBI double and a productive out and error that plated both Judge and Encarnación in one fell swoop and enabled the team to take the lead.

From there, things began to tip even further in their favor. Every time the Twins scored, the Yankees scored just one additional run to keep ahead of them. Polanco returned with an RBI single in the fifth, so Torres hit a two-RBI double in the bottom of the inning. Miguel Sanó homered off of Tommy Kahnle in the sixth, so DJ LeMahieu and Brett Gardner each hit a home run against rookie reliever Cody Stashak.

In the bottom of the seventh, after a quiet inning from the Twins, LeMahieu returned with a three-run double — boosting the Yankees to a 10-4 lead and becoming the club’s first first baseman to register four RBI in a postseason game since Tino Martinez’s performance in Game 1 of the 1998 World Series.

The Twins will look for their first win of the series on Saturday, when Game 2 of the ALDS is scheduled to kick off at 5:07 PM EDT. The Yankees are prepared to send right-hander Masahiro Tanaka to the mound, where he’ll try for his first playoff win since Game 2 of the 2018 ALDS. With both bullpens fairly taxed (11 total relievers were utilized as both José Berríos and James Paxton struggled to last through the fifth), the clubs will look to their starters to go a little longer this time around.

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3


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.”