A fifth-inning rain storm caused two hours of delay time in Saturday’s ALCS opener at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, stripping C.J. Wilson of his command and forcing Justin Verlander from the game. A battle of aces turned into a battle of bullpens. And while both relief corps posted zeroes, it was the fellas from Texas who came away victorious.
Entering to a bases-loaded mess following the second of two rain-induced pauses, Rangers lefty Mike Gonzalez got Tigers catcher Alex Avila to hit into a two-out groundout to end the fifth inning.
Alexi Ogando, a highly effective starter during the regular season, then took over in the top of the sixth. He delivered two scoreless innings, fanning three Tigers and yielding no hits. Darren Oliver followed and retired both batters he faced before giving way to trade-deadline acquisition Mike Adams, who got Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta to chase a fall-off-the-cliff breaking ball to end any potential threat in the eighth.
Neftali Feliz closed it all out in the top of the ninth, at one point hitting 101 mph on FOX’s radar gun.
The Rangers battled the rain and put trust in their bullpen on the way to a 3-2 ALCS Game 1 victory.
Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.
Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.
Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.
The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.
Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.
Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.
EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.