UPDATE: Turn out the lights, folks. Jim Johnson had nothing, and now the Yankees sport a 7-2 lead.
11:56 PM: So many chances for both teams had gone by the wayside by the ninth inning rolled around, the last of which came in the bottom of the eighth. There the Orioles got a leadoff double from J.J. Hardy, only to have him stranded when CC Sabathia bore down and retired the heart of the O’s order — Adam Jones, Matt Weiters and Mark Reynolds — to escape the jam.
Then, to lead off the ninth, Russell Martin hit a homer off Orioles closer Jim Johnson. It’s now 4-2 in the ninth, and the Yankees aren’t done yet. Two men on and no one out.
10:19 PM: It’s now the bottom of the fifth, tied at two. The Yankees scored their second run on when Mark Teixeira singled in Alex Rodriguez in the fourth. Teixeira was thrown out trying to stretch it to two, however, shortening the inning. Two base running mistakes so far for the Bombers. You wonder if they’re gonna wish they didn’t give away those outs.
9:44 PM: The game finally got underway after a nearly two and a half hour rain delay, but the long delay worked out as we didn’t run into some awful replay of the CC Sabathia-Justin Verlander aborted start from last year. We’re three innings and change in now, and the Orioles lead the Yankees 2-1.
The Yankees drew first blood in the first inning, with Derek Jeter singling and Ichiro doubling him in. Then Ichiro was promptly gunned down trying to steal third because someone though that was a good idea.
The Orioles came back in the third with Chris Davis and Lew Ford singling, each being advanced a base on a Robert Andino bunt and then both scoring when Nate McLouth singled them in.
After a few bumps in the first inning, Jason Hammel seems to have settled down and seems to be in something of a groove. CC Sabathia is CC Sabathia. Looks like a good one so far.
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.