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.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).
Free agent closer Mark Melancon is entertaining at least two offers in the four-year, $60+ million ballpark, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The teams thought to be in the running are the Giants and Nationals, with the Giants having a slight edge due to their strong interest in him last summer (per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick).
Crasnick also said that while the Giants are keeping tabs on the top three free agent closers this winter, the other two being Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, they’re leaning toward Melancon as a (slightly) more affordable option in the ‘pen. It’s worth noting that Melancon would not cost the Giants a draft pick if they decided to sign him.
Melancon had an outstanding season in 2016, nearly reaching career-best numbers with a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 5.42 K/BB rate in 71 1/3 innings split between the Pirates and Nationals’ bullpens. The veteran right-hander earned his third career All-Star distinction after stifling opposing hitters with a 1.23 ERA and 7.9 K/9 rate in the first half, and went on to appear in his fourth consecutive playoff run.
Despite the Giants’ apparent lead in the bidding for Melancon, Rosenthal mentioned a third mystery team who might throw their hat in the ring as well. No clubs have been name-dropped as of yet.