Clay Buchholz pitched his way into the Red Sox’s postseason rotation by going 7-3 with a 3.21 ERA through 14 starts, but turned in a disastrous outing Tuesday against the Blue Jays. Buchholz served up a career-high five homers after allowing a total of seven long balls through his first 84 innings this year, coughing up seven runs as his ERA rose nearly 20 percent.
Two of those homers came off the bat of Adam Lind, who chased Buchholz from the game and later took reliever Takashi Saito deep for his third blast of the night. Lind is fifth in the league with a .932 OPS, hitting .305 with 35 homers, 46 doubles, and 114 RBIs to show that his .318/.380/.509 line in the minors was no fluke despite posting a modest .745 OPS through his first 195 games with Toronto.
While the Red Sox clinched the Wild Card anyway thanks to the Rangers’ loss a few hours later, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Josh Hamilton’s season officially came to an end Tuesday as the Rangers shut him down with a pinched nerve in his back. Hamilton’s first season in Texas was a great one, as he hit .304/.371/.530 with 32 homers and a league-leading 130 RBIs to rank seventh in the MVP balloting, but he was healthy enough for only 89 games this year while hitting .268/.315/.426 with 10 homers and 54 RBIs.
* Philadelphia’s much-maligned and ever-changing closer situation may finally have found a little bit of stability, as Ryan Madson followed up Sunday’s four-out save with a six-out save Tuesday. He certainly hasn’t been perfect when handed ninth-inning duties, but Madson has clearly been the Phillies’ best reliever all season with a 3.18 ERA and 76/21 K/BB ratio in 76.1 innings. He can do the job if they stick with him.
* Tuesday morning reports surfaced that Miguel Angel Sano had lowered his asking price after MLB was unable to verify his age and Tuesday night the Twins signed the 16-year-old shortstop from the Dominican Republic for $3.15 million. Considered by many to be the top international prospect available this year before questions about his age became the big story, Sano turned down offers from the Orioles and Pirates.
AL Quick Hits: Mark Teixeira homered in a comeback win Tuesday and leads the AL with 39 homers and 121 RBIs … Brian Roberts smacked his 56th double Tuesday to set a new MLB single-season record for switch-hitters … Minnesota and Detroit split Tuesday’s crucial doubleheader, with both games decided by a run … Scott Kazmir was a last-minute scratch from Tuesday’s start, but manager Mike Scioscia insisted that he’s physically fine … Jack Wilson (heal) has been shut for the year after hitting .224 with one homer in 31 games for the Mariners … Carl Crawford set a career-high Tuesday with his 60th steal, but only 16 have come in the second half … J.D. Drew went 3-for-4 with a homer Tuesday and now ranks second among AL outfielders with an .898 OPS … Jake Peavy’s final start has been pushed back to Friday against the Tigers lineup that he blanked for seven frames last time out … Josh Beckett (back) is on track to make his scheduled start Friday.
NL Quick Hits: Derrek Lee rejoined the lineup Tuesday after missing three starts with neck spasms, but exited early after fouling a ball off his foot … Tim Hudson struggled Tuesday as the Braves’ seven-game winning streak ended … Jamie Moyer might not be ready for the playoffs after straining his groin Tuesday … Aramis Ramirez missed Tuesday’s game because of shoulder soreness … Homer Bailey threw seven innings of one-run ball Tuesday, striking out seven with one walk … Ian Desmond homered and doubled Tuesday, and is hitting .305/.344/.542 in his first taste of MLB … Joel Pineiro was knocked around for seven runs Tuesday, serving up multiple homers for the first time all year … Jay Bruce went deep twice Tuesday, giving him four homers and 16 RBIs in 32 at-bats since coming off the disabled list … J.A. Happ allowed four runs while needing 120 pitches to record 17 outs Tuesday, but still notched his 12th victory … Tuesday’s complete-game shutout was Ryan Dempster’s first since 2001 and he now has a 1.39 ERA in five September starts.
CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.
He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.
Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.
The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.
While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.
“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’
It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.
DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.
The Royals and third baseman Mike Moustakas have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $14.3 million deal, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network.
The deal, which was initially discussed last month, buys out Moustakas’ final two years of arbitration. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports that it’s believed he’ll make $5.6 million in 2016 and $8.7 million in 2017.
The 27-year-old Moustakas posted an underwhelming .668 OPS over his first four seasons in the majors, but he enjoyed a big postseason in 2014 before breaking out last season by batting .284/.348/.470 with 22 home runs and 82 RBI.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.
Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.