The Yankees make a Grand escape


See what I did there with that headline? Clever, eh? You know, because Curtis GRANDerson hit the game-winning homer? Anyone?  OK, maybe not. But when 5,000 blog posts you have written, occasionally hacky too you will become.  Anyway:

The Yankees came close to blowing a great opportunity just like the Red Sox did, except rather than squandering a great outing against a great pitcher, the Yankees almost squandered a poor-even-for-Dontrelle-Willis performance.

Willis walked seven guys in his two and a third innings. It was a performance that will probably get him designated for assignment within the next 24 hours, but somehow the Yankees only scored two runs off him, thanks in part to some poor fundamental baseball: Nick Swisher was caught stealing and then a botched hit and run by Cano got Teixeira nailed in the first. Why Girardi decided to start playing small ball against a human pinball machine like Willis is beyond me, but the Yankees could have scored a gajillion runs against the guy if they just played some take and rake ball.

Because of that, the game remained close. Curtis Granderson’s 10th inning homer proved to be the game-winner, but unlike most situations in which Mariano Rivera is called on to lock it down he didn’t exactly lock it down. Rather, he got himself into a bases loaded, no-out jam in the bottom of the tenth. While I would say most pitchers who escape such a situation without any runs scoring got lucky, Rivera has more than earned the benefit of the doubt, so I’m gonna say he bore down or something: two pop-ups and a strikeout, game over.

A high wire act for the Yankees to be sure, but a win all the same. And with the Rays and Sox both losing, they picked up another game in the AL East.

Michael Cuddyer not shining in left field early in NLDS Game 1

Michael Cuddyer
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek

Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.

Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.

With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.

Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.

Mets take lead during NLDS Game 1 with Daniel Murphy’s solo homer

Daniel Murphy
AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek
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Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.

Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.

Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.

Qualifying offer for free agents set at $15.8 million

Jason Heyward
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Eric Fisher of the Sports Business Journal reports that the value of a qualifying offer for free agents this off-season has been set at $15.8 million. That represents an increase of a half-million dollars over last year’s value.

This is of particular interest with regards to the big-name free agents, including Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, Yovani Gallardo, Jordan Zimmermann, and Jeff Samardzija.

Teams that make a qualifying offer to a player that ends up being rejected receive a compensation draft pick in the upcoming draft. The team that signs the player who rejected a qualifying offer gives up their earliest non-protected draft pick.

Free agents who had been traded mid-season aren’t eligible to receive a qualifying offer. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, David Price, Johnny Cueto, and Ben Zobrist, among others.

A player has yet to accept a qualifying offer since the QO system was implemented.