The Yankees beat the Rays, clinch a playoff spot

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For the Yankees, it’s 16 playoff appearances in 17 years. For the Rays: missed opportunities. For the Red Sox: some breathing room, at least for a bit.  The Yankees beat the Rays 4-2 in the front end of a double header today.

The game was decided in the eighth when James Shields allowed a homer to Eduardo Nunez to tie it up.  Joe Maddon left Shields in the game and he struck out Eric Chavez before allowing Brett Gardner to single and then reach second on a stolen base. Derek Jeter then walked, bringing up Robinson Cano.

Shields was at 120 pitches at this point.  He was likely gassed, and it was a totally defensible call to bring in a reliever. Whether he brought in the correct one, however, in J.P. Howell is something Rays fans are likely still asking themselves. Howell has been the worst guy in that Rays pen all year. Yes, he’s a left and you want a lefty to face Cano in that situation, but Howell? That’s a major “hurm” moment if I’ve ever seen one. Cano doubled off Howell, scoring Gardner and Jeter. Which was basically the ballgame.

For the Yankees, the playoffs await again. For the Rays, another missed opportunity to put pressure on the Red Sox.  A Red Sox team which, even if it keeps losing games, won’t lose any ground if the Rays do the same.

Oh, and the Yankees did not have the champagne shower after this game. It would have made the nightcap a bit too difficult to get through, I would reckon.

Rougned Odor received two horses as part of his contract extension with Rangers

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Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor reached an agreement with the Rangers on a six-year, $49.5 million contract extension. It was announced on Saturday and finalized on Thursday. The contract is pretty typical — a signing bonus, escalating salaries each year — except for one thing: Odor received two elite horses as well, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports.

Here are those horses, per Jared Sandler of 1053 The Fan:

Players do sometimes get perks as part of their contracts. Usually it’s mundane stuff like extra game tickets for family and friends, use of a suite, limo rides, or plane tickets. Sometimes they can get rather specific. For example, in 2005, Troy Glaus got $250,000 per year in “personal business expenses” from the Diamondbacks, which was for his wife’s equestrian training. Hall of Famer George Brett got a 10 percent stake in an apartment complex in Memphis when he signed an extension with the Royals in the mid-1980’s. But as far as my research was able to go, no one received any horses, so that’s new.

Of course, the Rangers certainly think Odor is worth the perks. Last season, Odor hit .271/.296/.502 with 33 home runs, 88 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 14 stolen bases in 632 plate appearances. And at just 23 years old, he has plenty of room to improve.

Mariners sign Mark Lowe

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The Mariners have signed reliever Mark Lowe, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. The Tigers released him on Sunday.

Lowe, 33, is entering the last of a two-year, $11 million deal signed with the Tigers in December 2015. The right-hander struggled to a 7.11 ERA with a 49/21 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings last season. His performance this spring didn’t do much to inspire confidence.

Lowe began his major league career with the Mariners, breaking out in 2009 with a 3.26 ERA across 80 innings. He has been inconsistent throughout most of his 11-year big league career, however.