Chris Carpenter

The State of the Races

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AL EAST

The spread: Both the Yankees and Red Sox lose. New York stays ahead of Boston by two and a half.

The skinny: The Yankees, who just hosted Baltimore, now go down to Baltimore today for a makeup game. I’m sure everyone is thrilled to see these two play yet another game. All they need is rain. Oh, wait, there’s some in the forecast? Fabbo!

AL CENTRAL

The spread: The Tigers beat Cleveland again and the Sox lose. Make that lead nine over Chicago, nine and a half ahead of Cleveland.

The skinny: As long as no other playoff team is able to (a) trade for Shelley Duncan; and (b) circumvent playoff roster rules in a manner that allows him to play in the postseason, Detroit looks pretty good at the moment.

AL WEST

The spread: Rangers lose, Halos win, Texas’ lead is back down to two and a half.

The skinny: Both teams are off today, giving them time to contemplate how they have remained so close this season.

NL EAST

The spread: The Phillies beat the Braves — again — and are now ten and a half up.

The skinny: The Braves are a disaster at the moment and, after a Hurricane Irene-inspired double header today, they head to St. Louis for a three-game series against a Cardinals team that is suddenly only six and a half back in the wild card.

NL CENTRAL

The spread: Cards beat the Brewers — they took five of six from them in the two recent series — and are eight back with 19 to play.

The skinny: As noted above, sweep the wounded Braves and we’ll have an interesting wild card race on our hands.

NL WEST

The spread: Diamondbacks win, Giants lose, and the snakes have a seven-game lead again.

The skinny: The Dbacks play 13 of their last 19 at home.

Josh Johnson retires from baseball

PEORIA, AZ - FEBRUARY 21: Josh Johnson #55 of the San Diego Padres poses during Picture Day on February 21, 2014 at the Peoria Sports Complex in Peoria, Arizona. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
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Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.

Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.

Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.

Report: Angels close to a multi-year deal with Luis Valbuena

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 08:  Luis Valbuena #18 of the Houston Astros hits a three run walkoff home run in the ninth inning to defeat the Oakland Athletics 10-9 at Minute Maid Park on July 8, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.

Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.

Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.