Chris Perez ruins Justin Masterson’s stellar day

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While he finished with a 3.32 ERA and 36 saves in 40 opportunities, Cleveland’s Chris Perez’s 2011 performance suggested that worse days were on the way. One struck in Thursday’s opener.

Justin Masterson allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings, only to watch Perez blow a 4-1 lead in the ninth against the Blue Jays.

Masterson was terrific from the get go, allowing just a homer to Jose Bautista while getting 20 of his 24 outs via a K or a groundout. Perez seemed likely enough to protect a three-run lead from there, but he managed to retire just two of the seven hitters he faced while blowing the three-run lead in the ninth.

What’s scary about Perez was the way his strikeout rate fell off last year. He went from fanning 61 guys in 63 innings in 2010 to 39 in 59 2/3 innings last year. Flyball pitchers who don’t get swings and misses simply aren’t very good bets, and Perez’s swing-and-miss rate has deteriorated each year since his debut.

Vinnie Pestano relieved Perez today, got the final out of the ninth to preserve the tie and then pitched a scoreless 10th in a tie game. He had more than twice as many strikeouts as Perez last year, finishing with 84 in 62 innings, and it’d be no surprise if he soon becomes Cleveland’s closer.

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.