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Live blog: Yankees-Rangers ALCS Game 6


UPDATE: It’s done. Alex Rodriguez — the $252 million man — strikes out looking to end it. The Rangers win 6-1 and take the series in six games. They are now headed to the World Series for the first time in franchise history.

I’ll have much more in the recap in a little bit. Thanks for reading!

11:07 PM: Robinson Cano grounds out on a nice play by Mitch Moreland. Two down. Here comes A-Rod with two outs.

11:06 PM: Curtis Granderson goes down swinging. One away.

11:01 PM: And Mariano sat them down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth. The Rangers are now three outs away from their first World Series appearance. The Yankees will send Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez to the plate against Rangers’ closer Neftali Feliz in the top of the ninth.

10:54 PM: Mariano Rivera is on for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth.

10:52 PM: Instead of focusing on the Yankees losing, how about a word — or a few — about Colby Lewis, who just struck out the side in the top of the eighth inning. He has held the Bombers to just three hits while striking out seven and walking three. The only run scored on a wild pitch that wasn’t. Think he comes back out for the ninth?

10:41 PM: The Rangers just tacked on another one and lead 6-1 after seven innings. Really, it could have been much worse. Ian Kinsler delivered a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and David Murphy flew out with two runners on to end the inning.

Desperate times for the Bombers. They only have six outs left.

10:28 PM: Josh Hamilton just fell to the ground trying to track down a ball hit to the left-center field gap by Lance Berkman. It looked like he rolled his ankle a bit. Fortunately for the Rangers, he got up smiling and appears to be just fine. Berkman made it to third on the play, but Nick Swisher flew out for the final out in the top of the seventh. Stretch time.

10:22 PM: Kerry Wood it is. He sits the Rangers down in order in the bottom of the sixth. It’s 5-1 going into the top of the seventh.

By the way, Buddy Garrity from Friday Night Lights is in attendance tonight (thanks to Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). Gotta think Lyla is there too, right?

10:15 PM: And the Yankees just went down with a whimper in the top of the sixth. Colby Lewis retired them 1-2-3 on 11 pitches.

10:09 PM: Ian Kinsler doubled to keep the inning alive, but David Robertson was able to get out of it by getting David Murphy to ground into a fielder’s choice. So, Yanks fans, who do you think we see in the sixth? Kerry Wood? CC Sabathia if they begin to chip away?

10:01 PM: Panic time for the Bombers? Nelson Cruz just smoked a two-run shot to distant left-center field, pushing the Rangers’ lead to 5-1. That place just got real loud.

9:56 PM: The Rangers are back on top. Vladimir Guerrero just crushed a breaking ball into the gap in left-center field, driving home Mitch Moreland and Josh Hamilton to give the Rangers a 3-1 lead. Vlad has driven in all three Rangers’ runs.

Phil Hughes’ night is over, as Joe Girardi has called on David Robertson to get the final out of the inning.

9:54 PM: Hughes was able to intentionally walk Josh Hamilton without incident this time. It’s first and third with two out for Vladimir Guerrero.

9:50 PM: Robinson Cano just made an excellent play going to his left to snag a ground ball hit by Mitch Moreland to start the bottom of the fifth, but Phil Hughes was too slow covering first base. Fortunately for the Yankees, Jorge Posada was perfectly stationed to backup the throw. What the heck was Hughes doing there?

9:44 PM: Jorge Posada kept the inning going with a two-out double down the right-field line, but Colby Lewis was able to strand him at second base by striking out Marcus Thames swinging. Still, the Yankees got a gift there.

9:38 PM: Oh man. More umpire controversy. Nick Swisher was clearly hit in the shin by a pitch from Colby Lewis, yet Alex Rodriguez — who led off the inning with a double — ran home as if it was a wild pitch. The amazing part is that Swisher reacted as if he was hit, but Brian Gorman didn’t see it. Hm, he isn’t seeing the strike zone very well, either. Ron Washington came out to argue, but nothing came out of it, nor did any of the other umpires help Gorman. Just awful. Anyway, it’s ruled as a wild pitch and we’re tied 1-1.

9:34 PM: And the Yankees finally have their first hit against Colby Lewis. Alex Rodriguez just led off the top of the fifth with a double into the left-center field gap.

9:28 PM: Phil Hughes allowed a four-pitch walk to Ian Kinsler in the bottom of the fourth, but nothing else. He’s at 67 pitches already. As for the Yankees’ offense, they are still looking for their first hit against Colby Lewis. They have Alex Rodriguez, Lance Berkman and Nick Swisher coming up in the top of the fifth.

9:09 PM: Phil Hughes was able to get Vladimir Guerrero to pop out to end the third inning, so no damage done. It’s still 1-0 after three innings.

9:04 PM: Wow. Phil Hughes just threw a wild pitch on an intentional walk to Josh Hamilton. Mitch Moreland now stands on third base.

8:58 PM: Ernie Johnson: Brennan Boesch, the “fine Tigers outfielder” with “the silky smooth swing.” Dude, he hit .163 with two home runs after the All-Star break!

8:55 PM: That was fast. Colby Lewis just disposed of the Yankees in just seven pitches in the top of the third inning. He has faced the minimum thus far.

8:49 PM: After a shaky first inning, Hughes needed just 11 pitches to set the Rangers aside in the bottom of the second. Not sure that called third strike to David Murphy actually got the outside corner, but home plate umpire Brian Gorman is being generous for both sides. At least so far.

8:43 PM: Thanks to some help from the aforementioned Elvis Andrus, Colby Lewis delivered a 1-2-3 top of the second inning. He has thrown 26 pitches over his first two frames.

8:39 PM: Elvis Andrus just showed some “ups” to rob Alex Rodriguez of a leadoff hit in the top of the second inning. Can you say emerging star?

8:34 PM: The Rangers jump out in front first. Vladimir Guerrero knocked in Elvis Andrus with a groundout to second base. Phil Hughes got Nelson Cruz to fly out to right field, stranding Josh Hamilton at second base. 1-0 Rangers after one.

8:30 PM: The Rangers have two on already. Elvis Andrus — thanks to a weird shift by Curtis Granderson — led off with a double and Josh Hamilton moved him over to third with a single to left. It’s first and third with one out. Andrus stole home plate on a double steal in this very same situation in Game 2.

8:22 PM: You’ll be shocked to learn this, but I’m a moron. Granderson did beat the throw, but he didn’t make contact with the bag before getting tagged. Bad slide by Granderson, good call by Tony Randazzo.

8:20 PM: Curtis Granderson was just thrown out stealing to end a scoreless top of the first inning for the Yankees. And boy, it sure looked like he was safe from the replay. What else is new?

8:09 PM: …And the Rangers have taken the field. We should be up and running in a couple minutes here.

8:01 PM: We have rain in Arlington, but the good news is that the grounds crew is removing the tarp from the infield. We still may have a slight delay.

By the way, if the game starts only to be suspended because of rain, it will be picked up where the game left off. Nothing gets wiped out in the postseason. See Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, for example.

7:50 PM: It’s pretty simple. If you’re a Rangers fan, you want this thing wrapped up tonight so that Cliff Lee is lined up to start Game 1 of the World Series on regular rest next week. As for pretty much everybody else, you’re probably hoping for a Game 7 matchup between Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte tomorrow night. Can’t blame you there. With the pace of play so far in this series — and the threat of inclement weather tonight — we should find out an answer, oh, by sometime around 3 a.m. ET tomorrow morning. Fun times.

As always, feel free to add your own commentary/opinions in our comments section.

Game 6 starters:

Phil Hughes -Listening to WFAN in New York this afternoon, many Yankees fans are already looking past Game 6. They shouldn’t be. Hughes was hammered for seven runs on 10 hits over just four innings by the Rangers in Game 2. As we’ve learned by now, the Rangers’ offense is no joke. They have averaged 5.3 runs per game during the postseason, far and away the most of the remaining teams.

Colby Lewis – Lewis gets the start, but Rangers manager Ron Washington said that Tommy Hunter and C.J. Wilson are available in the bullpen, if needed. The rain could have a say in how long the starting pitchers last in his one, but if we see either Hunter or Wilson, it probably means Lewis didn’t fare too well. On the bright side, he held the Yankees to two runs over 5 2/3 innings in Game 2.

Looking for lineups? Aaron has Joe Girardi’s lineup card here and Ron Washington’s lineup here.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
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Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.

Braves and Jim Johnson reunite on a one-year contract

ATLANTA, GA - JULY 17: Jim Johnson #53 of the Atlanta Braves throws a ninth inning pitch against the Chicago Cubs at Turner Field on July 17, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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UPDATE: The deal is official. Bowman adds that Johnson will make $2.5 million in 2016.

6:11 p.m. ET: Jim Johnson enjoyed some success out of the Braves’ bullpen in 2015 until a midseason trade to the Dodgers and Mark Bowman of reports that he has returned to Atlanta on a one-year contract. No word yet on the terms involved.

After an awful 2014 between the Athletics and Tigers, Johnson signed a one-year deal with the Braves last winter and bounced back to the tune of a 2.25 ERA and 33/14 K/BB ratio over 48 innings. He also saved nine games. However, things went south for him after a trade to the Dodgers in late July, as he put up an ugly 10.13 ERA in 23 appearances. He was left off the team’s roster for the NLDS against the Mets.

It’s unclear what role the Braves have in mind for Johnson, as Arodys Vizcaino finished the season as the closer, but they have made upgrading their bullpen a priority this winter.

Report: Barry Bonds under consideration to be the Marlins hitting coach

Barry Bonds

This shouldn’t cause any controversy, lead to a lot of people saying dumb things or provide fodder for jokes at all. Nope, none whatsoever:

In what promises to be a bombshell move, if executed, all-time great slugger Barry Bonds is under consideration to become Marlins hitting coach.

Team higherups have quietly been discussing this possibility for weeks.

That’s Jon Heyman, who reminds us that Bonds has worked with the Giants in the spring in recent years. And who, no matter what else you can say about him, was one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. Also worth remembering that despite his controversial past, that greatness came not just from physical gifts, naturally or artificially bestowed. It came from his approach, preparation and strategy at the plate. No one can teach a hitter to hit like Barry Bonds, but you’d think that hitters could be taught to try to approach an at bat the way Barry Bonds would. And who better to do it than Barry Bonds?

That is, if Bonds is willing to drop his seemingly ideal retired life in San Francisco, move to Miami and work for Jeff Loria for nine months a year. Which, eh, who knows? But the possibility of it is pretty fascinating to think about.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds

Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year, $5 million contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.