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Aaron Judge homer puts Yankees ahead of Astros in ALCS Game 2

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The Astros rallied for a run in the bottom of the second inning of ALCS Game 2 in Houston on Sunday night, taking their first lead of the series. Alex Bregman led off by ripping a line drive single that clanked high off of the wall in left field. In most other parks, it’s a double, but the combination of the 106.7 MPH hit, the short distance to the fence, and the height of the fence combined to keep Bregman at first.

Yordan Álvarez followed up with a walk, putting runners on first and second with no outs. After James Paxton got Yuli Gurriel to line out to right field, Carlos Correa doubled down the left field line, past a diving Gio Urshela, bringing home the first run of the game. Paxton recovered by striking out Robinson Chirinos and Jake Marisnick consecutively to end the inning.

Justin Verlander looks much improved after serving up four runs in 3 2/3 innings in his ALDS Game 4 start against the Rays. He has thus far tossed three perfect innings with four strikeouts.

Update: That didn’t last long. After DJ LeMahieu led off with a walk, Aaron Judge put the Yankees ahead with a two-run home run to center field in the top of the fourth.

Rays’ Erik Neander named Executive of the Year

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At the GM meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona on Monday, Rays GM Erik Neander was named the recipient of Major League Baseball’s Executive of the Year Award for the 2019 season. The Yankees’ Brian Cashman was the runner-up while the Athletics’ Billy Beane and the Twins’ Derek Falvey tied for third place.

Neander has worked for the Rays since 2017 but has operated in his current role since November 2016, taking over for Matthew Silverman who was promoted to president of the Rays alongside Brian Auld.

The Rays had, by far, the lowest payroll in baseball at $53.5 million, according to USA TODAY. Neander’s peers voting him Executive of the Year on the same today the league had to curtail its awarding of a prize belt to the team that suppressed salaries the most in arbitration is… certainly interesting timing.

At any rate, Neander’s Rays went 96-66 in 2019, finishing in second place in the AL East behind the 103-59 Yankees. The Rays claimed the second AL Wild Card and defeated the A’s to earn entry into the ALDS where they lost in five games to the Astros. It was the Rays’ first playoff appearance since 2013 and their regular season win total was second-most in franchise history behind the 2008 team (97).