The Yankees and Orioles kept rolling tonight, maintaining one game of separation in the AL East.
The Yankees beat the A’s 2-1 in 10 innings on a Russell Martin home run. Rafael Soriano blew a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth by serving up a home run on a slider to Brandon Moss, but the Yankees were able to come right back on Martin’s 18th homer of the year.
Soriano’s fourth blown save cost CC Sabathia a win after his best outing in months. The left-hander showed increased velocity while limiting the A’s to three hits and striking out 11 in eight innings tonight. Perhaps he’s truly put his elbow problems in the past now.
Also unlucky was Jarrod Parker, who pitched eight innings of one-run ball in a sterling effort. He struck out seven and walked none in his first start at Yankee Stadium. He’d have a great Rookie of the Year case in pretty much any season except the Year of Trout. Parker is 11-8 with a 3.40 ERA and just nine homers allowed through 27 starts.
The Orioles topped the Red Sox 4-2, with Matt Wieters driving in three runs against Jon Lester. Miguel Gonzalez, a former Rule 5 pick by Boston who never pitched for the team, beat the Red Sox for the second time this season.
There was a scary moment in the ninth, as Mark Melancon drilled Robert Andino in the helmet with a mid-90s fastball. Fortunately, Andino appeared more angry than hurt, yet he did come out of the game. Both teams were warned afterwards, though it was the first HBP of the game. As you may remember, Andino had the hit that ended Boston’s season in 2012. It’s hard to imagine Melancon was looking for revenge, though; he was still an Astro when that happened.
The Orioles, with way too much on the line in a close game, didn’t respond in the bottom half of the ninth.
The wins put the Yankees at 87-63 and the Orioles at 86-64. The A’s are 85-65 and still in very good position to claim a wild card spot barring a meltdown. At worst, they’ll end the night 3 1/2 games ahead of the Angels.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.