Twins finally reach two-year, $16.5M pact with Pavano

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Finally, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday, the Twins have officially reached agreement with right-hander Carl Pavano.

It was reported almost 13 days ago that the two sides had reached a compromise on a two-year contract, but it took another few meetings for all of the financial terms to be worked out.

Pavano will earn $8 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.  There is another $500,000 available via performance-based incentives.

That’s a large investment for a 35-year-old starter, but Pavano finished with a strong 17-11 record, 3.75 ERA and 1.19 WHIP across 32 starts last season and should be able to come close to those numbers over the next two seasons while making half of his appearances inside Target Field, which is looking like one of the more pitcher-friendly ballparks in all of the major leagues.

The Twins did well to refrain from rushing in with a three-year offer when the offseason began and their patience was eventually rewarded.  Now they have a key piece of their 2010 division-winning squad back in uniform at a fairly reasonable contract length and price.  If age catches up to Pavano this year or next year and it simply doesn’t work out, he’ll be off the books before you can say Minnetonka.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.