Ryan Dempster

Cubs shut out Red Sox for first time in 94 years

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The last time the Cubs shut out the Red Sox, Fenway Park was six years old. This year, it’s celebrating its centennial.

Ryan Dempster blanked the Red Sox for seven innings Friday as part of a 3-0 Cubs victory. It was the first time the Cubs had shut out Boston since Game 5 of the 1918 World Series.

That was also a 3-0 game, with Hippo Vaughn beating Sad Sam Jones. A day later, the Red Sox bounced back behind Carl Mays and won their last World Series for 86 years. The Cubs, of course, haven’t won since 1908.

Enough with the history lesson, though. Today was all about Dempster, who upped his scoreless streak to 22 innings. Baseball’s unluckiest pitcher while going winless in his first eight starts, he’s now 3-3 with a 2.11 ERA this season.

Dempster helped himself today by going 2-for-3 with a triple and a run scored. The triple was a ball that a quality right fielder probably would have caught. Adrian Gonzalez, though, should have simply let it drop for a single. Instead, he made an ill-advised dive and played it into a triple.

The Red Sox lost despite outhitting the Cubs 5-4, going 4-for-4 stealing bases and getting help from three Cubs errors, including one while they were in the process of loading the bases in the ninth. They never could push a run across, though. Batting with a total of five runners in scoring position, Dustin Pedroia made the final outs of the fifth, seventh and ninth innings.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was the loser for Boston. He was in classic Dice-K form in his second start back after Tommy John surgery; in the first inning, he walked three batters and gave up a two-run double to give the Cubs the early lead. He never walked another batter and he was pretty terrific from the third inning on — he retired 13 of the final 14 batters he faced in his six innings — but it didn’t really matter with no runs on the way.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.

Report: Tyson Ross not expected to pitch in April

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park September 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:

We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.

Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.