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PITTSBURGH (AP) d bullish on his team even after parting with stars Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen in the offseason. Even after a swoon through June wiped out a hot start. Even after his club found itself floundering in early July.And when the Pirates responded with a 15-4 surge that seemed to validate his optimism http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-andre-dawson-jersey , he sent a message at the non-waiver trade deadline. The Pirates are intent on winning. Not just in 2018, but beyond.Pittsburgh acquired starting pitcher Chris Archer from Tampa Bay and closer Keone Kela from the Texas Rangers in moves that cost the team top prospects in outfielder Austin Meadows and pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Taylor Hearn as well as two players to be named.The decision to deal three players considered a part of the club’s next wave wasn’t easy. But Huntington believed it was necessary to bolster a group that has a chance to reach the playoffs.The Pirates entered Tuesday night’s game against the NL Central-leading Chicago Cubs 3 games out of the second wild-card spot thanks to a torrid stretch that began July 8.”Given the quality of the core, the players we have and those who are still on the horizon, the ability to add two players such as this, we feel, pushed us into a higher level and allows us to believe we are going to be one of those teams that has a legitimate chance to make the postseason not only this year (but beyond),” Huntington said.Archer, a two-time All-Star, is 3-5 with a 4.31 ERA in 17 starts this season for the Rays. The 29-year-old adds experience to a Pirates rotation that includes three starters – Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams and Joe Musgrove – 26 or younger.”I’m excited,” Archer said following a round of hugs in the Tampa Bay clubhouse shortly after the deal was announced. ”They’re super-hot right now, and they want me. They gave up their top two guys. Guys with some really good upside. I’m excited to be part of the organization that wants me, part of a rich baseball history, a hard-working community. I can’t wait to get there.”Neither move is a rental for Pittsburgh, which was the only team to not sign a major-league free agent last winter despite parting with cornerstones Cole and McCutchen in January.The 25-year-old Kela has 24 saves and a 3.44 ERA. He will be arbitration-eligible beginning next season and will not be eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.Pittsburgh will assume the remaining $2,049,731 in Archer’s $6.25 million salary. He also receives a $500,000 assignment bonus for the trade. His deal includes a $7.5 million salary for 2019, a $9 million team option for 2020 with a $1.75 million buyout and an $11 million club option for 2021 with a $250 Ron Santo Jersey ,000 buyout.”To get Keone with two-plus years of potential contribution and who knows behind that, to get Chris Archer with three years plus this year where he’s going to impact our wins, those were really good gets in our mind,” Huntington said.Meadows, a first-round pick in the 2013 draft, hit .292 with five home runs and 13 RBIs in 49 for the Pirates after making his major league debut on May 17. The 24-year-old Glasnow dominated as a starter in the minors but struggled during his first season-plus in Pittsburgh, going 2-7 with a 7.69 ERA in 15 games (13 starts) in 2017. The Pirates moved Glasnow to the bullpen this season with better results. The 6-foot-8 right-hander is 1-2 with a 4.34 ERA in 34 appearances.The 23-year-old Hearn was acquired from Washington at the trade deadline two years ago. Hearn has gone 3-6 with a 3.12 ERA in 19 starts with Double-A Altoona this season.Now all three are moving on, while Pittsburgh is moving forward in an attempt to make headway in the playoff race. Ten NL teams entered play on Tuesday within 5 games of a postseason berth. Just over three weeks removed from being a season-worst eight games under .500 (40-48), the Pirates are one of them.Pittsburgh heads to the stretch with an improved rotation and a back end of the bullpen that suddenly looks formidable, with Kela joining All-Star close Felipe Vazquez and setup man Kyle Crick. The plan for now is to have Vazquez continue to work the ninth with Kela and Crick working ahead of him, though Vazquez is open to changing his role if it means the Pirates play meaningful games into September and maybe even beyond.”Yeah, we’re here to win games,” Vazquez said. ”It’s up to (manager Clint Hurdle). He’s the boss. I just follow. We’re there, if he decides lefty-lefty matchup, I’m up for it. It doesn’t matter. We’re trying to win games.”—AP Baseball Writer Ronald Blum contributed to this report. Elsa/Getty ImagesThe latest postseason clash between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees picked up where the last one left off in 2004.With Boston on top.Although the Red Sox barely eked out a 5-4 win over their longtime nemeses in Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Friday, the game somehow felt even closer than that.The early innings were a rout in favor of the home team. That had much to do with Chris Sale's triumphant return to power-pitching goodness on the run prevention side of things. On the other side, J.D. Martinez provided an early exclamation mark with a three-run home run in the first inning.MLB MLBGood times never seemed so good! #ALDS 236dsZXhxyIn the later innings, however, the Yankees sucked as much life as they could out of the capacity crowd at Fenway Park. The trick was to exploitthe Red Sox's not-so-secret Achilles' heel: their bullpen.Boston relievers technically had a solid season Ernie Banks Jersey , putting up a 3.74 ERA that ranked ninth in Major League Baseball. But the front office and manager Alex Cora never figured out the bridge to ace closer Craig Kimbrel. It really started to show in September, as Boston's pen slumped to a 4.84 ERA.Signs of progress were not immediately apparent after Cora lifted Sale with one out in the sixth inning.Ryan Brasier allowed two of his inherited runners to score. The Yankees then loaded the bases with nobody out in the seventh, ultimately settling for one run. Cora resorted to bringing in 2016 AL Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello to begin the eighth and then Kimbrel for a four-out save. He got it but not before surrendering a solo blast to Aaron Judge.Throughout all the late-inning drama, the sheer evenness of these Red Sox and Yankees teams was as tangible as the spines on a porcupine. Game 1 certainly felt like a showdown between two teams that combined for 208 victories in the regular season.Still, the Red Soxdidwin to grab a 1-0 series lead. And couched in how they did it are real positives.Tim Bradbury/Getty ImagesStart with Sale, who became the first Red Sox starter to pitch into the sixth inning of a postseason game since John Lackey in Game 6 of the 2013 World Series.The big question coming into Friday was whether Sale would regain any of the fastball velocity he'd been missing after returning from a second bout withshoulder inflammation on Sept. 11. Previously, he'd averaged 95 mph on his fastball. He averaged92.7 mph afterward, including 90.2 mph in his final regular-season tuneup Sept. 26.Cora tried to quell unrest by pointing to Sale's mechanics, not his shoulder."I don't feel that's the reason," the first-year skipper told reporters. "We've been talking about it the whole time, and we don't feel it's the shoulder. His mechanics were way off in the first outing, probably, they got better, then all of the sudden last one it wasn't there. But we don't feel it has anything to do with the shoulder."Evidently, Sale has fixed what had been ailing him.He sat at 94.6 mph with his four-seamer in Game 1, with a peak of 96.6 mph. That made it easier for him to catch Yankees hitters off-guard with his slider and changeup, which drew nine whiffs out of 49 total pitches.Sale isn't all the way back to the otherworldly dominance (1.97 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 146 innings) he displayed through his first 23 starts. But he nonetheless looked the part of a Game 1 starter. Should the Red Sox need one, that's a solid assurance he can also be an ace in Game 4 or Game 5.Meanwhile, the Red Sox offense operated in much the same way it did all season.It revolved around Martinez http://www.chicagocubsteamshop.com/authentic-ryne-sandberg-jersey , Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Andrew Benintendi. They provided six of the team's eight hits, as well as four of its five runs batted in. Most of this happened in two-plus innings of exposure to J.A. Happ, who was the Yankees' de facto ace down the stretch.Though nowhere near as big a concern as the team's bullpen, the shallowness of Boston's lineup around its big four is a red flag. Especially opposite the Yankees lineup, which got contributions from all over en route to a record 267 homers in the regular season.It is some comfort, however, that Martinez, Betts, Bogaerts and Benintendi are all complete hitters who can hit good pitching. The Red Sox will be in good shape if they can keep throwing punches early鈥攑articularly if it's in tandem with more good starting pitching, which the Red Sox stand to get if David Price and Porcello pitch to their best abilities in Games 2 and 3.Of course, the Yankees don't necessarily have to be impressed by any of this.For them, it's a moral victory that Boston's best starter could only muster 16 outs in Game 1. Their harsh exposure of the Red Sox's bullpen is yet another moral victory. From here, it may not be that difficult to ride their bats and bullpen to a series tie and beyond. In either event, the Red Sox and Yankees have taken the first step toward another October classic.Stats courtesy of Baseball Reference, FanGraphs and Baseball Savant.
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