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Tampa Bay Rays Beat Justin Verlander to Force a Game 5

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When the Tampa Bays Rays beat the Houston Astros on Monday night, a defiant Justin Verlander demanded to get the ball in Game 4.

Verlander will probably be going to the Hall of Fame someday and he is still at the height of his powers, after finishing a Cy Young worthy season this year.

So when Verlander asked to pitch in Game 4, his manager A.J. Hinch didn’t give it a second thought and agreed to start the veteran on three days rest.

Unfortunately for the Astros, that plan may have backfired, as the Rays jumped all over him in the first inning on Tuesday night.

After Tommy Pham hit that home run to get the Rays on the board, Verlander walked a batter and gave up a pair of hits to allow another run.

Then second baseman Joey Wendle stepped up to the plate and delivered a clutch double to bring in a third run and give Tampa a comfortable early lead.

Just like Zack Greinke in the previous game, Verlander failed to make it out of the fourth inning for the Astros. He yielded another home run in the fourth inning, before Houston turned to the bullpen trailing 4-0.

The Rays are an unconventional baseball team, built around a potent offense and an incredible bullpen. So instead of turning to a starting pitcher in Game 4, Tampa had a bullpen day.

They relied on six different pitchers to hold off a powerful Astros lineup and they did so with great success, allowing just one run.

After dropping the first two games of this series to the Astros, it did not appear that the Rays had any chance to advance past Houston’s dynamic starting rotation to advance to the ALCS.

Now they stand one game away from doing just that, after winning both of their home games to force a Game 5.

Unfortunately for the Rays, they will be facing a fully rested Gerrit Cole when they play in Houston on Thursday night.

Baseball

New York Yankees SP Luis Severino Shut Down with Forearm Tightness

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Prior to the 2019 season, it looked like the New York Yankees had their ace of the future in Luis Severino.

Severino was coming off two-straight All-Star seasons, as he pitched to sub-3.50 ERA in both those campaigns.

Then came the 2019 season, in which Severino made just three regular season starts due to various injuries.

Now as Spring Training has just gotten under way, Severino once again finds himself sidelined due to an injury.

The Yankees were really counting on Severino to headline the front of their rotation along with top free agent acquisition Gerrit Cole.

Now that all appears to be in doubt, as Aaron Boone explained that this injury is nothing new for the 26-year-old flamethrower.

The Yankees are already going to be without James Paxton until at least June due to shoulder soreness. Taking another hit with Severino is going to be tough for New York to overcome at the start of the season.

All of this proves just how important the acquisition of Cole really was, as their rotation would be in dire straights without him.

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Baseball

Milwaukee Brewers Sign Utilityman Brock Holt

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It may have taken until Spring Training, but Brock Holt finally has a new home for the 2020 season.

The former Boston Red Sox utilityman is leaving the American League altogether and will instead sign with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Holt’s versatility should prove to be even more valuable with Milwaukee than it even was for the Red Sox, as his ability to play all over the diamond is a big boost in the National League.

Last season, Holt played every position for the Red Sox except catcher and center field, all while producing a quality season with his bat.

Holt is a career .271 hitter, with all the tools to help a team win. He was an All-Star back in 2015 and was part of the Red Sox team that won the World Series in 2018.

Now Holt will join the Brewers where he will try to help them make the postseason for three consecutive years. It would be the first time in franchise history that they would have accomplished that feat.

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Baseball

Kevin Pillar Signs One-Year Deal with the Boston Red Sox

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The Boston Red Sox made one of the biggest moves this offseason when they traded former MVP Mookie Betts to the Los Angeles Dodgers, in a deal that also sent David Price to L.A. as well.

Boston received Alex Verdugo in the trade, giving them a young outfielder to help fill the void left by Betts.

Still, filling the hole in production left by Betts will not be a one-man job, as the Red Sox are adding a veteran outfielder to take some of those at-bats as well.

Pillar signs a one-year deal with the Red Sox, which is reportedly worth $4.25 million.

While not the same elite defensive outfielder he once was, Pillar can still be a solid defender and brings a potent bat following a career-year last season.

Pillar, 31, hit .264/.293/.442, in 156 games after being traded to the San Francisco Giants from the Toronto Blue Jays. He also set career-highs with 21 home runs and 87 RBIs.

Boston now has four quality outfielder going into the 2020 season, with incumbents Jackie Bradley Jr. and Andrew Benintendi, being joined by the additions of Verdugo and Pillar.

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