What we're watching: Beckett looks to bounce back

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– Brad Penny makes his first start for the Giants in a big game against Philadelphia. The Phillies won a sterling contest 1-0 last night, as Cole Hamels pitched a two-hit shutout to outduel Jonathan Sanchez. That allowed the Rockies to reclaim a one-game lead in the wild-card race. The Giants will likely need a strong outing from Penny if they hope to hang in there against J.A. Happ, who is 10-3 with a 2.63 ERA. Penny turned in just one quality start in his last five trips to the mound for Boston. He was released by the Red Sox after going 7-8 with a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts.
– The Red Sox will be looking for Josh Beckett to bounce back against a Rays team he’s struggled against lately. The former 20-game winner has allowed 20 runs over his last three starts, taking his ERA from 3.10 to 3.80. He’s 1-1 with a 5.60 ERA against Tampa Bay this year, and he gave up 10 runs in 9 1/3 innings versus the club in the ALCS last year. His opponent tonight might just be the one pitcher in the league the Red Sox least like to see: Matt Garza. Garza is 2-0 with a 1.88 ERA in four starts versus Boston this year. Including last year’s postseason, he’s 7-1 with a 2.66 ERA in 12 career starts against the Red Sox.
Game of the Night
Los Angeles vs. Seattle – Well, technically it’s a late afternoon game in Seattle, but that’s good enough for us East Coasters. Scott Kazmir will make his Angels debut in a showdown against Cy Young contender Felix Hernandez. Kazmir had his high strikeout game of the year in his final start for Tampa Bay before being traded for three prospects. He allowed one run in six innings and fanned 10 against Toronto to finish off a month of August in which he went 3-1 with a 5.10 ERA. Hernandez is aiming for his first win of the year against the Angels after going 0-1 with a 4.38 ERA in his first two starts.

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.