Yu Darvish turned in his best start since April on Tuesday, blanking the Rays for seven innings and striking out 10 as the Rangers won 1-0.
It was Darvish’s third straight quality start, but also the first time since July 21 that he’s ended a start without allowing at least three runs. Darvish went without giving up a run for the second time as a big leaguer; he pitched 8 1/3 scoreless innings in a win over the Yankees on April 24.
James Shields was the hard-luck loser for the Rays tonight, allowing one run and three hits in seven innings. He struck out eight while falling to 12-8.
Darvish reached double figures in strikeouts for the eighth time this year. R.A. Dickey is second in the majors with six such games. Felix Hernandez, Shields and Stephen Strasburg have five such games.
While Darvish has been inconsistent in amassing a 4.31 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP, he is 13-9 and the Rangers have gone 15-9 in his starts. The postseason will likely determine whether his rookie campaign is viewed as a disappointment or not.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.