Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Scherzer pitches to the New York Yankees in Game 2 of their MLB American League Division Series baseball playoffs in New York

Max Scherzer dazzles as Tigers even ALDS with Yankees

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Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer had a very up-and-down regular season. When he was good, he was great. When he was bad, it often got ugly.

On Sunday afternoon in New York City, the 27-year-old couldn’t have been much better.

Scherzer issued two first-inning walks, but settled in soon after and held the Yankees’ star-studded lineup hitless until Game 1 standout Robinson Cano blooped a single to left field in the sixth inning.

Scherzer wound up throwing six scoreless frames, yielding only two hits and striking out five Yankees while hurling 61 of his 104 pitches for strikes. He was aided offensively by Magglio Ordonez, who went 3-for-3, and Miguel Cabrera, who finished 3-for-4 with three RBI. Victor Martinez also drove in a run.

Curtis Granderson put the Yankees on the board with an eighth-inning solo home run and Nick Swisher added a solo shot off Tigers closer Jose Valverde in the bottom of the ninth. Then Jorge Posada tripled for the first time in 2011 and scored on an Andruw Jones sacrifice fly. But Valverde eventually got the job done for Detroit, and the Tigers tied the series with an exhilarating 5-3 Game 2 victory.

Notes

* Ordonez laced a one-out single in the top of the first inning, then Cabrera lined a two-run homer into the right field seats. It wasn’t a bad pitch, and Cabrera didn’t make especially great contact. You have to wonder how many home runs Cabrera would hit to that right field porch if he called Yankee Stadium home.

* Yankees starter Freddy Garcia retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced after Cabrera’s two-run blast, then got himself into trouble again in the sixth inning. He allowed six hits and four runs over 5 1/3 frames.

* Derek Jeter nearly led off the bottom of the first inning with an extra-base hit, but speedy Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson retreated quickly and snared the ball on the run just before the warning track.

* The sun was shining brightly at Yankee Stadium in the early innings, causing some problems for both team’s outfielders. But it was a welcome sight for a series that has already featured a 27-hour rain delay.

* Rain made another appearance in the bottom of the seventh inning, but only for a quick shower. It reappeared in the bottom of the ninth and was coming down hard as the Yankees attempted a comeback.

* Posada drew a tough walk in the fifth inning that seemed to throw Scherzer slightly off his rhythm. The Detroit right-hander hit the next better he faced (Yankees catcher Russell Martin) before getting out of the jam. The Yankees finally broke through with their first hit in the very next frame.

* Posada followed a leadoff walk by Nick Swisher with a single up the middle, driving Scherzer from the game in the seventh. But Joaquin Benoit came on in relief and retired three straight batters — fanning two.

* Cabrera caught the Yanks napping in the eighth inning and stole the first base of his postseason career.

* Alex Rodriguez finished 0-for-3 with a walk and is now 0-for-8 in the series. The boo birds came out.

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.