Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees - Game One

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.

Report: Mariners acquire Chris Heston from the Giants

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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the Mariners have acquired starter Chris Heston from the Giants. The Giants will receive a player to be named later, per Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

Heston, 28, logged only five innings in the majors this past season as he battled an oblique injury and otherwise spent most of his time with Triple-A Sacramento. Heston was solid out of the Giants’ rotation in 2015, posting a 3.95 ERA with a 141/64 K/BB ratio in 177 2/3 innings over 31 starts.

Heston will be under team control through 2021. He’ll provide depth for the Mariners’ rotation in the meantime.

Joe Nathan wants to pitch in 2017

DETROIT, MI - AUGUST 16: Joe Nathan #36 of the Detroit Tigers pitches in the ninth inning of the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on August 16, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the Mariners 4-2.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
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Joe Nathan‘s agent, David Pepe, says his client wants to pitch in 2017, per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. “He’s like the Energizer Bunny,” Pepe said.

Nathan, 42, came back from Tommy John surgery in July, pitching two scoreless innings for the Cubs with four strikeouts and two walks. The Cubs released him and the Giants picked him up, and Nathan went on to pitch 4 1/3 scoreless innings down the stretch with five strikeouts and two walks.

According to FanGraphs, Nathan’s velocity wasn’t where it used to be, which is to be expected of a pitcher in his 40’s coming back from major elbow surgery. Still, with teams always on the hunt for bullpen depth, it would be shocking if Nathan didn’t get any bites before spring training starts.