The ears of the baseball world perked up around 8:45 p.m. ET this evening when Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News — and other Rangers beat writers — announced that majority owner Chuck Greenberg was going to be hosting a conference call at 9 p.m. ET. A Lee announcement? Something big?
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram’s Anthony Andro was passing along notes as Greenberg spoke. Unfortunately, there weren’t many notes to pass along.
The call started a couple minutes late and Greenberg revealed next to nothing. The Rangers have made a couple of different offers to Cliff Lee, but they’re not going to talk about details with the media.
Greenberg called the proposal a “substantial commitment in years and dollars” and said that Lee is now “weighing his options.” That’s something called front office-speak.
All of this seems a little fishy. Greenberg and Co. flew down to the left-hander’s Arkansas home this afternoon with a “we want an answer” attitude, but now they’re playing coy.
Nick Nelson, Twins blogger and Rotoworld contributor, opined on Twitter that the conference call was meant as a smoke screen. Nelson might be right. The Rangers can now tell their fans “hey, we tried” when Lee is cracking a grin and buttoning up a pinstriped uniform in a couple of days. It’ll be Lee’s fault, or the Yankees’ fault, not the fault of a limited payroll.
The Yankees have made a seven-year offer worth about $23 million annually and the Rangers were hoping to keep him at five years when this all began. Even if the conference call wasn’t a front, the Red Sox created a YES Network-fueled monster when they signed Carl Crawford to that seven-year, $142 million contract yesterday. The Yanks are pissed off and ready to spend.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.