Zack Greinke
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Zack Greinke limits Nationals, Astros take 4-1 win in World Series Game 3


The Astros entered Game 3 of the World Series with an 0-2 record and unbelievably bad odds of pulling off a championship title. According to’s David Adler, their comeback chances hovered around 25.7% for a series win, with a 7.8% chance of getting it done in six games and a 17.9% chance in seven. The club’s playoff hopes boiled down to a single-game performance from Zack Greinke, who had followed up his All-Star campaign with several rough outings in the ALDS and ALCS.

Luckily for the Astros, Greinke entered Friday’s game with some of the best stuff the club has seen from him this postseason. He pitched 4 2/3 innings of one-run, three-walk, six-strikeout ball, holding the Nationals to a single run and paving the path to a 4-1 win — the Astros’ first of the World Series.

Behind Greinke, the Astros’ offense consistently found opportunities to get around Aníbal Sánchez. The Nats’ right-hander took his second loss of the postseason and first since Game 3 of the NLDS, allowing 10 hits, four runs, a walk, and striking out just four of 27 batters in 5 1/3 innings. He allowed a double to Carlos Correa in the second inning, who was then driven in by Josh Reddick on a line drive to left field. In the third, José Altuve led off the inning with another double, then crossed home plate on a Michael Brantley RBI single after the ball deflected off of Sánchez.

The Nationals finally caught a break in the bottom of the fourth. With one out and Ryan Zimmerman on first, Victor Robles roped a triple off of Greinke, plating Zimmerman and getting the team on the board. It was the first and last run they’d manage off of the Astros; after Greinke departed in the fifth, Houston rotated through an inexhaustible combination of Josh James, Brad Peacock, Will Harris, Joe Smith, and Roberto Osuna to stifle any rally the Nationals might have tried to engineer.

The Astros weren’t quite done yet, however: Altuve and Brantley went back-to-back again to drive in a third run in the fifth inning. In the sixth, Robinson Chirinos hit a home run off of Sánchez, lifting a first-pitch sinker out to the left-field foul pole and padding the Astros’ lead, 4-1.

The Nationals will attempt to get the series back on track on Saturday night, when they’ll send southpaw Patrick Corbin out to the mound for his first start since Game 4 of the NLCS. The Astros — who still face some pretty unfavorable odds — have yet to name a starter; given how many relievers they trotted out in Game 3, it’s unclear who they’ll rely on for another crucial game.

Game 4 is set for Saturday evening at 8:08 PM EDT.

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.”