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Padres fire Green after four sub-.500 seasons

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The San Diego Padres have fired manager Andy Green, general manager A.J. Preller announced Saturday.

“I want to thank Andy for his tireless work and dedication to the Padres over the last four seasons,” Preller said in a statement. “This was an incredibly difficult decision but one we felt was necessary at this time to take our organization to the next level and expedite the process of bringing a championship to San Diego. Our search for a new manager will begin immediately.”

Green was 274-366 in four seasons as Padres manager. They won no more than 71 games in any of his three full seasons in charge and are 69-85 this year.

In August 2017, the Padres gave Green a contract extension that ran through the 2021 season.

San Diego’s .428 winning percentage with Green is the fourth worst in the majors since 2016, ahead of only the Detroit Tigers (.406), Baltimore Orioles (.408) and Miami Marlins (.427), according to ESPN Stats & Information. The Padres’ 4.0 runs per game, .236 batting average and .695 OPS since 2016 are all MLB worsts.

The big offseason signing of Manny Machado to a 10-year, $300 million contract couldn’t turn the Padres’ fortunes, as San Diego will miss the playoffs for the 13th straight season.

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Aaron Hicks returns to Yankees’ lineup; Giancarlo Stanton still out vs. Astros

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NEW YORK — Aaron Hicks returned to the Yankees‘ starting lineup on Tuesday for the first time since Aug. 3 and Giancarlo Stanton remained out for the second straight game when the AL Championship Series resumed with New York and Houston tied 1-all.

Hicks took over in center field and was hitting ninth against Houston’s Gerrit Cole in Game 3. Previously sidelined by an injured flexor near his right elbow, Hicks pinch hit for starting left fielder Cameron Maybin in Game 2 and grounded out leading off the 10th inning, then moved to center.

Limited by injuries to 18 games during the regular season, Stanton homered in the opener and missed Game 2 because of a strained right quadriceps. Manager Aaron Boone said Stanton probably would be on the injured list if this were the regular season.

“Kind of called G in right when he got here and just said we’re going to stay away today,” Boone said. “He’s going to get outside and move around a little bit more today — feel like he would be a hitter-off-the-bench option today. And then we’ll kind of see where we are again moving forward, kind of day by day here.”

Rain is forecast for Wednesday, which could push Game 4 to Thursday.

Brett Gardner moved from center and replaced Stanton in left. Asked what he expected from Hicks, Boone said “a couple homers, walk” and smiled.

“The big question mark is, he hasn’t played in a couple of months, so that’s the challenge,” Boone said.

First baseman DJ LeMahieu is leading off, followed by right fielder Aaron Judge, Gardner in left, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, second baseman Gleyber Torres, shortstop Didi Gregorius, catcher Gary Sanchez, third baseman Gio Urshela and Hicks in center. Luis Severino is on the mound.

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How historically dominant starting pitching has Nats nearing NLCS sweep

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WASHINGTON — Gerardo Parra wrapped both arms around Stephen Strasburg and wouldn’t let go. Their embrace has morphed into something of a tradition. It began late in the season and spilled into the playoffs, partly because this Washington Nationals team has grown so close and partly because Strasburg detests these hugs.

For this one, in the late stages of a victorious night in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series, Parra held on long enough that a nearby Anibal Sanchez could get in on the action. Max Scherzer then spotted them from the end of the dugout, walked over, spread his long limbs wide and enveloped them all, suffocating Strasburg with affection.

“Why not,” Scherzer said. “He deserved it.”

Strasburg, pitching three nights after Sanchez and two nights after Scherzer, had just held the St. Louis Cardinals to one unearned run in seven innings, leading the Nationals to an 8-1 victory Monday that gave them a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

In Game 1, it was Sanchez, expertly mixing a variety of pitches, who came within four outs of a no-hitter.

In Game 2, it was Scherzer, playing his fastball off his changeup, who gave up zero hits and struck out 10 through the first six innings.

In Game 3, it was Strasburg, armed with untouchable off-speed pitches, who struck out 12, walked none and added to what is becoming an illustrious postseason résumé.

In Game 4, it will be Patrick Corbin — every bit as capable, every bit as imposing — looking to pitch the Nationals into their first World Series.

“They’re the heart and soul of our team,” Nationals reliever Sean Doolittle said of the team’s starting pitchers. “It’s fitting that they’re the reason we’re in this position.”

If not for Michael Taylor misreading a line drive on Saturday and Juan Soto slipping in the middle of a throw on Monday, the Cardinals would probably have been shut out for 27 innings in this series. Sanchez, Scherzer and Strasburg have combined for one unearned run allowed, three walks and 28 strikeouts in 21⅔ innings. The Nationals’ starters boast a 1.59 ERA, a 0.88 WHIP and a .164 opponents’ batting average in 56⅔ innings this month — numbers that don’t even include their contributions out of the bullpen.

Since the wild-card era began in 1995, only the 2012 Detroit Tigers, 2018 Milwaukee Brewers and 1995 Cleveland Indians have had starters’ ERAs better than that of the current Nationals through their first nine postseason games, according to research from the Elias Sports Bureau. The Brewers, however, relied on openers, skewing the numbers. This postseason has been marked by the rebirth of traditional starting pitcher usage, and the Nationals — not the Houston Astros — stand as the prime example.

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Aaron Hicks returns to Yankees lineup against Astros

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NEW YORK — Aaron Hicks returns to the New York Yankees‘ starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 3 and Giancarlo Stanton remains out for the second straight game when the American League Championship Series resumes with the teams tied 1-all.

Hicks took over in center field and hit ninth against Gerrit Cole in Game 2 against Houston on Tuesday night. Sidelined by an injured flexor near his right elbow, Hicks pinch hit for starting left fielder Cameron Maybin and grounded out leading off the 10th inning, then moved to center.

Brett Gardner moved from center and replaced Stanton in left.

Limited by injuries to 18 games during the regular season, Stanton homered in the opener and missed Game 2 because of a strained right quadriceps. Manager Aaron Boone says Stanton is available to pinch hit.

First baseman DJ LeMahieu was leading off Wednesday’s game, followed by right fielder Aaron Judge, Gardner in left, designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion, second baseman Gleyber Torres, shortstop Didi Gregorius, catcher Gary Sanchez, third baseman Gio Urshela and Hicks in center. Luis Severino is on the mound.

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