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Astros jump on Max Scherzer early, take 2-0 lead in World Series Game 1

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Max Scherzer got into immediate trouble and nearly pitched his way out of it, but Yuli Gurriel pounded a two-run double to left-center field with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, giving the Astros an early lead in Game 1 of the World Series.

George Springer worked a leadoff walk and José Altuve followed up with a single to left field on the first pitch he saw from Scherzer. Scherzer rebounded with back-to-back strikeouts of Michael Brantley and Alex Bregman, though Springer and Altuve separately stole a base. With two strikes, Gurriel lashed a Scherzer slider that clanked high off of the wall in left-center, mere feet from becoming a three-run home run.

On his 26th pitch of the inning, Scherzer struck out Correa to end the threat, but the damage was done. Gerrit Cole, who worked around Trea Turner‘s leadoff single and subsequent stolen base in the top of the frame, now has what feels like a substantial cushion.

Update: Well, that didn’t take long. Ryan Zimmerman answered with a solo homer off of Cole with two outs in the top of the second inning. 2-1 ‘stros.

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).