We saw a variety of different games on this first day of the 2010 baseball playoffs.
The Rangers routed the Rays in an afternoon tilt with heavy offense and a stellar performance by left-handed ace Cliff Lee. Then Phillies righty Roy Halladay made history in an early evening contest, stealing the show by hurling only the second postseason no-hitter in a decisive Game 1 victory over the Reds.
As for Yankees vs. Twins, the night cap? Well, that had everything.
Minnesota’s Michael Cuddyer launched a two-run homer to straightaway center field in the bottom of the second inning and Francisco Liriano kicked off his start with five strong scoreless innings. The Twins looked confident, Target Field was rocking and the home team carried a 3-0 lead into the sixth frame.
But the Yankees, always primed for a rally, kicked in four runs in the top of the sixth on a series of base hits that knocked Liriano from the game and put the Bombers up 4-3.
The resilient Twins managed three walks in the bottom of the sixth inning against a tiring CC Sabathia, including a bases-loaded free pass that tied the game at 4-4. Sabathia reached 112 pitches and wouldn’t return in the seventh. But that’s the last sniff of hope that the fans at Target Field would get.
Enter Mark Teixeira.
The big first baseman, battling a sore thumb for close to a month, launched a towering two-run homer to deep right field in the seventh inning to put the Yankees back on top 6-4. That lead would hold, many thanks to a four-out save by future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera, who threw cutter after cutter in the exact same spot and left the Twins’ final batters hopeless for a comeback. By our count, Mo broke three bats.
Welcome to the 2010 edition of baseball’s postseason.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.