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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston shortstop Carlos Correa was scratched from the team’s 5-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday because of a sore neck.The Astros don’t think the problem is serious 

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 , but there’s a chance he won’t be ready for the start of the regular season Thursday. Manager AJ Hinch said Correa was “uncomfortable” after being tagged in a rundown in Friday’s game.“We can’t dwell on it,” Hinch said. “We’ll see if he can play on Thursday. We don’t think it’s a long-term serious issue, but I don’t love the fact that we’ve had to scratch him … and that he’s heading into the season having not played for a few days.”Hinch said Correa has still been doing baseball activities despite not appearing in a game since Friday.“He’s taken ground balls and he’s done a lot, he’s hit a little bit in the cage,” Hinch said. “But I’m not going to play him until he’s ready.”Correa’s setback comes a season after he missed six weeks with a back injury that lingered throughout the season. He 13 homers and 49 RBIs the first half of last season, but he never got over a pinched nerve in a disc in his back in the second half and batted just .180 with two home runs and 16 RBIs.The back problem left him with the lowest batting average of his four-year career (.239) and his fewest hits (96), doubles (20), homers (15) and RBIs (65).THE FUTUREThe Astros got a good look at two of their top pitching prospects on Tuesday in J.B. Bukauskas and Corbin Martin.Bukauskas started for Houston and allowed three hits and two runs while striking out three in four innings to give him a 1.69 ERA this spring. Bukauskas, who was the 15th overall pick in the 2017 amateur draft 

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 , hasn’t ascended past Double-A in his first two seasons in the organization.It will be some time before he’s part of the big league club, but the Astros are high on the 22-year-old right hander. He’ll probably start the season in Double-A, but is likely to see time at Triple-A Round Rock before the end of this season.Martin took over for the fifth and struck out six and walked three without allowing a hit in four scoreless innings. The right-hander could get a shot with the Astros sooner than Bukauskas, but is likely to open the 2019 season in Round Rock.Martin, who was drafted in the second round in 2017 out of Texas A&M, went 7-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 21 games with 18 starts in Double-A last season. Hinch raved about the 23-year-old.“I love him,” Hinch said. “I love what he can offer as a pitcher. He’s got a lot of characteristics that we see in major league starters and that’s exciting to see.”Hinch said it’s easy to project Martin as an MLB starter because he has four pitches and has shown he is capable of retaining his velocity throughout an outing. With a rotation headlined by veterans Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, the Astros likely won’t be looking for another starter this season. But if they do, Hinch can see Martin being the guy.“He can impact us this season 

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 ,” Hinch said. “I don’t know if we’ll need it. I don’t know if he’ll pitch well enough to warrant a call-up, but if he does I’ve really enjoyed his way.”Brandon Maurer started for the Pirates on Tuesday and struck out one in a perfect inning.HOMERSMelky Cabrera’s first home run this spring put the Pirates up 2-0 in the fourth inning. George Springer went deep for the second time this spring when he connected off Eduardo Vera on a solo shot in the bottom of the inning.UP NEXTPirates: RHP Jameson Taillon will make his first career opening day start when the Pirates begin the season on Thursday at Cincinnati.Astros: Verlander will make his 11th career opening day start and his second straight with the Astros when they open the season on Thursday at Tampa Bay. The Pirates (-102) were looking for a rare five-game sweep of the Brewers on Sunday.But it didn't look like that would happen after Milwaukee took a 5-2 lead in the eighth inning.However, Pittsburgh had a little two-out magic up its sleeve to pull off the improbable walk-off win in extras.In case you missed it, the gambling Gods decided to torture baseball bettors with one of the worst beats of the month yesterday. It was certainly a cruel sendoff to the All-Star break for some.The Pirates (-102) were looking for a rare five-game sweep of the Brewers on Sunday. After Milwaukee struck first on a Travis Shaw solo shot in the second inning, Pitt answered in the third with a Corey Dickerson two-run homer. That blast came with two outs after starter Joe Musgrove reached on an error, which couldn’t have pleased Milwaukee moneyline bettors. Brewers starter Jhoulys Chacin allowed two runs (one earned) on just one hit and no walks in 5.1 innings.However, the Brewers got that unearned run back in the sixth, and the game would remain tied (2-2) until the eighth inning 鈥?to the delight of under 7.5 backers.Musgrove then came back out for the eighth, which was a mistake in hindsight. After the righty allowed the first two men to reach 

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 , manager Clint Hurdle kept him in 鈥?even after Musgrove walked the bases loaded with two outs.Betting the 2018 Home Run Derby: Staff SelectionsRead nowThat decision backfired, as Brett Phillips smacked a bases-clearing triple to give the Brewers a 5-2 lead. Under and Pitt moneyline bettors had to be screaming at Hurdle for leaving Musgrove on the bump.Considering Milwaukee had Jeremy Jeffress and Corey Knebel available, the Brew Crew should easily close this out, right?Not quite. The Pirates added one in the eighth to pull within two, which sent under 7.5 tickets up in flames.After a scoreless top of the ninth, Knebel (who got the last out in the eighth) came back out for the save. Things got off to a rocky start after singles by Colin Moran and Josh Bell followed by a Max Moroff walk loaded the bases with nobody out. The sweat was now officially on.Just as Milwaukee bettors started to lose hope, Knebel got Jordy Mercer to ground into a double play. A run scored, but the Brewers were now one out away. Knebel then got ahead 1-2 on pinch-hitter David Freese. One strike away, but then …A two-out 

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 , two-strike triple to tie the game. Well, at least all hope wasn’t lost, as the Pirates left Freese stranded at third 鈥?and we headed to extra innings.The Brewers wasted no time in extra frames, as Phillips struck once again with an RBI single to give Milwaukee a 6-5 lead.Milwaukee then called on Taylor Williams for its second save attempt in as many innings. He did allow a Gregory Polanco single, but retired the two other batters he faced. The Brewers (and their bettors) were once again one out away from victory.Manager Craig Counsell decided to make another pitching change and bring in Dan Jennings, who was greeted by a single. That put runners on first and third with two outs.Bell then came to the plate in the pouring rain. And on a 1-0 count, he smacked a line drive to center that looked like Lorenzo Cain would track down to end the game.But it went over Cain’s head! Now the question is would Moran score from first to win it for Pitt? The throw beat Moran to the plate, but it got past the catcher 鈥?and that gave us the answer in the form of a moose.Raise the Jolly Roger and lower the life expectancy of anybody who bet on the Brewers. At least there’s no baseball to lose money on tonight 鈥?unless you bet the Home Run Derby.


04-20-2019, 07:17 AM
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