Things are looking up for the Twinkies through two innings at Minneapolis’ Target Field.
Minnesota ace Francisco Liriano struck out Yankees leadoff man Derek Jeter to open the first inning,
then promptly retired Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira on balls that did
not get out of the infield.
CC Sabathia escaped a Denard Span single with a little damage control in the bottom of the frame, accepting a free out on a sacrifice bunt by Orlando Hudson and then fanning All-Star catcher Joe Mauer before inducing a groundball against Delmon Young.
With two outs in the top of the second, Liriano walked Marcus Thames and allowed a soft single to Jorge Posada. But Curtis Granderson, he of the .228/.341/.447 regular-season batting line with runners in scoring position, was quickly retired on a liner to first base.
Sabathia nailed Jim Thome in the bicep to lead off the bottom of the second inning, which injected a little energy into the Target Field crowd. That energy turned to pandemonium just three pitches later as Michael Cuddyer launched a monstrous two-run blast to straightaway center field, giving the Twins a 2-0 lead.
Let’s get a weather update out of the way for those who still believe that Minnesota is covered in snow 90% of the year and does not participate in the season called autumn. The temperature at game time was 63 degrees with no blizzards in sight, and even warmer temperatures are on tap for Game 2. Target Field is rocking because, for now at least, the home team is winning.
Update #2 (6:21 PM EST): Make that $37.5 million, per Heyman.
Update (6:02 PM EST): The deal is for “around” $37 million with deferrals that lower the present-day value, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that free agent 1B/OF Mark Trumbo is close to a deal with the Orioles. He first reported that the two sides were back in touch earlier on Thursday afternoon. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the deal is expected to be for three years and under $40 million.
Trumbo’s market hasn’t developed as he expected. The slugger turned down the Orioles’ $17.2 million qualifying offer back in November. Then the Orioles reportedly made a four-year contract offer to him in December but pulled it off the table. Most recently, a report indicated that Trumbo lowered his expectations to a three-year deal in the $40-50 million range.
Trumbo, 31, led the majors with 47 homers for the Orioles this past season. He also hit a solid .256/.316/.433 with 108 RBI in 667 plate appearances. With Trumbo back in the fold and some slight offensive upgrades made, the Orioles figure to have a formidable offense in 2017.
The Astros avoided arbitration with pitcher Mike Fiers, agreeing on a $3.45 million salary for the 2017 season, per Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle. The right-hander was in his first of three years of arbitration eligibility.
Fiers, 31, made 30 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros in 2016. He finished the year with a 4.48 ERA and a 134/42 K/BB ratio in 168 2/3 innings.
Fiers had a much better showing in 2015 as well as in limited action in 2014, so the Astros are hoping he rediscovers that effectiveness going forward. He’ll slot into the back of the starting rotation.