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Astros top Yankees 4-1 in Game 3, take 2-1 ALCS lead

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The Astros have taken a two games to one series lead in the ALCS after shutting down the Yankees 4-1 in Game 3 in New York on Tuesday. Gerrit Cole, without his best stuff, fired seven shutout innings while José Altuve and Josh Reddick each hit solo homers against Luis Severino to jump-start the offense.

Altuve’s home run came with one out in the top of the first inning, immediately giving Cole a lead. After Cole wriggled out of a jam in the bottom half of the inning, Reddick tacked on a homer of his own to lead off the second.

The Yankees were not without opportunities to answer. They had four plate appearances with a runner on scoring position in the first, one in the second, one in the fourth, and two in the fifth, going 0-for-6 with RISP and leaving nine runners on base.

Cole ultimately blanked the Yankees on four hits and five walks with seven strikeouts across seven innings. Severino, his counterpart, gave up two runs on five hits and three walks with six strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. That Severino pitched into the fifth was impressive in and of itself after a 36-pitch first inning.

The Astros tacked on two more runs in the top of the seventh inning with a little help from catcher Gary Sánchez. Adam Ottavino walked George Springer to open the inning, then Altuve slapped a grounder to right field on a hit-and-run to put runners on the corners. Lefty Zach Britton entered, getting Michael Brantley to hit a grounder to first base that allowed DJ LeMahieu to nab Springer at home. With Altuve on third and Brantley on second, Britton intentionally walked Alex Bregman to bring up Yuli Gurriel. During the at-bat, Britton threw a sinker in the dirt that a better catcher would’ve blocked. Sánchez didn’t. The ball skipped away, allowing Altuve to score and everyone else to advance a base. Gurriel then lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to plate Brantley, making it 4-0.

Smith took over in the eighth. Gleyber Torres ruined the shutout with one out, sending a Joe Smith sinker over the fence in right field for his second postseason homer. Thus ended Smith’s night. Will Harris took over, getting Didi Gregorius to pop up for the second out and Sánchez to ground out to end the frame.

In the bottom of the ninth, manager A.J. Hinch handed the ball to closer Roberto Osuna. He got Gio Urshela to fly out to center field, Aaron Hicks to line out to center, and DJ LeMahieu to ground out to third base to complete a 1-2-3 inning. Astros win 4-1.

Now up 2-1 in the ALCS, the Astros will look to put even more distance between themselves and the Yankees on Wednesday in Game 4 in the Bronx. First pitch is scheduled for 8:08 PM ET.

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).