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Shaky Zack Greinke walks three, allows one run in first inning of ALCS Game 4

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Astros starter Zack Greinke didn’t have his best stuff in the first inning of ALCS Game 4 against the Yankees in the Bronx. The right-hander walked DJ LeMahieu to open the inning. Aaron Judge lined out, Aaron Hicks blooped a single into shallow right-center, and Gleyber Torres popped out, revealing light at the end of the tunnel for the Astros. However, Greinke proceeded to issue back-to-back walks to Edwin Encarnación and Brett Gardner, forcing in a run to open the scoring. Greinke rebounded, striking out Gary Sánchez on three pitches to escape trouble.

It was a 28-pitch first inning for Greinke, of which only 13 were strikes. If you’re the Astros, it’s not what you want. All things considered, though, it could have been a lot worse.

Greinke has not been his best self in the postseason, entering Thursday night’s start with a career 4.58 ERA in October. In his two previous starts this postseason, he allowed six runs in 3 2/3 innings to the Rays in Game 3 of the ALDS, and three runs in six innings to the Yankees in Game 1 of the ALCS.

Update: George Springer gave the Astros a 3-1 lead in the third inning with a three-run home run off of Masahiro Tanaka.

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).