Joe Mauer breaks up Rangers' no-hit bid with one out in ninth

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UPDATE: Party’s over, folks. With one out in the ninth, Joe Mauer broke up the no-hit bid with a hard hit single up the middle, just beyond the outstretched glove of Elvis Andrus. It was the only hit the Rangers would allow in a 4-0 win over the Twins.

It spoiled what would have been the first combined no-no since six Astros no-hit the Yankees on June 11, 2003. It’s a bummer, but Rangers fans have to be highly encouraged by what they saw from Harden tonight.

10:26 PM: Darren O’Day just sat down the Twins 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth, including back-to-back strikeouts of Danny Valencia and J.J. Hardy. O’Day, Matt Harrison and Rich Harden have combined for eight no-hit innings against the Twins. Neftali Feliz will come on in the ninth for a chance at history.

10:06 PM: Rich Harden left tonight’s start against the Twins after tossing 6 2/3 hitless innings. The Rangers played it safe and we ended up seeing a situation very similar to Kevin Slowey being pulled after seven hitless innings earlier this month.

Harden, who was just activated from the disabled list after a recent bout with shoulder tendinitis, was at 111 pitches at the time. Never the most efficient of pitchers, Harden struck out six and walked five before exiting the ballgame.

Harden threw 101 pitches in a rehab start with Triple-A Oklahoma City last Wednesday, so he was certainly stretched out, but remember that the Rangers have designs on the postseason. Harden has been a major bust this season, but it’s hard to question his upside when healthy. It’s for the greater good.

On the bright side for Rangers fans, Matt Harrison got Jim Thome to line out to center field to end the inning, so they still have the no-hitter going. Stay tuned for more.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.