Matt Cain

Giants keep winning the close ones, sweep Houston

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It didn’t take 12 innings, like Saturday’s game did, but the Giants edged the Astros 3-2 for the second straight game Sunday, with Matt Cain picking up his 10th win in the process.

Cain, facing the Astros for the first time since he pitched a perfect game against them last month, allowed two runs — one earned — in 6 1/3 innings.

The Giants are now 49-40 this season, even though they’ve been outscored by three runs.

They’re one of three teams playing on the opposite side of their run differential:

Giants: 49-40 – 346 RS, 349 RA – (3)
Orioles: 46-42 – 361 RS, 400 RA – (39)
Indians: 45-43 – 395 RS, 425 RA – (30)

The big factor there: the Giants are 20-13 in one-run games. In fact, the Orioles, Indians and Giants (in that order) have MLB’s best winning percentages in one-run games this season.

There aren’t currently any teams under .500 with a positive run differential, though the Red Sox have fit that description for much of the season. They’re currently 45-44 with 438 runs scored and 395 runs allowed (+43). The Diamondbacks have exactly as many runs scored as runs allowed (377) and they’re 42-46.

The Rangers, at +73, have baseball’s best run differential, with the Yankees second at +68. Those are also the two teams with the best records in baseball. The Twins have the worst run differential at -96. The Astros, with baseball’s worst record, are second at -77.

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.