What we're watching: Lincecum aims for 13th win, 200 Ks

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– Matt Cain and Jason Marquis have both failed twice and Johan Santana and Adam Wainwright once apiece, so now Tim Lincecum will have a shot at becoming the first NL pitcher to reach 13 victories.  He’ll be facing the Reds for the first time in 80 career starts.  I’m not positive about this, but with nine strikeouts tonight, it looks like he’ll be the earliest to get to 200 in a season since Randy Johnson’s 334-strikeout campaign in 2002.  Erik Bedard got their on Aug. 15 in 2007.

 

– The Braves will attempt to recover from a devastating loss Thursday tonight in the second game of a four-game series in Los Angeles.  The Braves led 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth on Friday, only to see Rafael Soriano give up a walkoff homer to Andre Ethier.  Tonight’s game will be a rematch of the contest five days ago in Atlanta, which the Dodgers won 9-1.  Chad Billingsley threw five scoreless innings in that one before leaving with a hamstring cramp.  Jair Jurrjens surrendered four runs in five innings to take his first loss in five starts.  He’s 9-8 with a 2.85 ERA, while Billingsley is 11-6 with a 3.82 ERA.

 

– Carlos Lee will aim again for his 300th homer, this time against the Brewers’ Carlos Villanueva.  He has four extra-base hits in his last three games, but all were doubles.  He’s 4-for-13 with a homer against Villanueva in his career.

 

Game of the Night

 

Boston vs. New York – Having fallen to 8-1 against the Yankees, the Red Sox are terribly desperate for a win, what with there only being 45 games left and them being a mere two games up in the wild card (even if that is the same lead they held 10 games ago).  With the season on the line, they’ll send Josh Beckett to the mound.  He’s 2-0 in three starts against the Yankees, despite having a 5.82 ERA.  Burnett has been roughed up in both of his outings versus Boston, compiling a 12.91 ERA in 7 2/3 innings. 

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.