Oakland’s Jerry Blevins replaced Grant Balfour in a 6-5 game with runners at the corners and no outs against the Angels on Tuesday night. He promptly struck out Kendrys Morales and induced a double-play ball from Howie Kendrick to give the A’s a win.
The Angels were attempting to come back from 6-3 down in the ninth when Chris Iannetta and Mike Trout started the frame with walks. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols followed with a pair of RBI singles, at which point A’s manager Bob Melvin removed Balfour.
The left-handed Blevins was the choice to take over, even though Morales is a switch-hitter and Kendrick bats righty. He got the job done in a big way for his second career save in 205 appearances. His other save came in 2010 against the Rays.
For Kendrick, it was the 23rd double play grounded into of the season. He’s tied with Michael Young for second in the AL, three behind Miguel Cabrera.
The A’s have taken the first two in a four-game series in Anaheim to move 4 1/2 games ahead of the Angels in the AL West. At 81-60, they have the second best record in the AL, two games ahead of the Yankees and Orioles.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
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.