Dan Haren delivers gem to shut down Braves

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Dan Haren hasn’t had the smoothest start to the season, but he was in vintage form tonight against the division rival Braves, tossing eight innings of one-run ball as part of a 3-1 victory. The victory gave Washington a split of the four-game series and pushed the club back over .500 at 15-14.

Haren limited the Braves to just four hits on the night, with the lone run scoring on a solo homer by Dan Uggla in the bottom of the seventh inning. The veteran right-hander was very efficient, throwing 62 out of 91 pitches for strikes while issuing just one walk and notching four strikeouts. Rafael Soriano worked around a two-out single in the ninth for his ninth save.

Denard Span led the charge for the offense, going 3-for-4 with a walk. After he doubled and came around to score on a single by Steve Lombardozzi in the first inning, he delivered a two-run double one inning later. Kris Medlen, Cody Gearrin and Jordan Walden shut down the Nats’ offense the rest of the way, but that was all the support Haren needed.

This was the first time this season that Haren pitched past the sixth inning. It was also the first time that he had thrown at least eight innings in a start since May 24 of last year, a span of 25 outings. There’s reason for optimism with his last two starts, though, as he has allowed just three runs in 14 innings to improve his ERA to 5.01. Not bad considering that he was touched up for 19 runs (15 earned) in 18 1/3 innings over his first four starts. If Haren can get going again, this rotation has the potential to be very, very dangerous.

Tanner Scheppers leaves Cactus League game with lower core injury

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Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.

Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.

Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.

Report: Jose Ramirez close to four-year extension with Indians

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Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports that third baseman Jose Ramirez is finalizing a four-year extension with the Indians. The deal is said to be worth north of $30 million, and may crest $50 million if all options are exercised. While the extension won’t take effect until the 2018 season, it guarantees Ramirez a $26 million sum with two options worth $11 and $13 million and will give the Indians control of the infielder through the 2023 season.

Ramirez, 24, is entering his fifth season in the Indians’ organization. He posted career-high numbers during his first full season in the majors, slashing .312/.363/.461 with 11 home runs, 22 stolen bases and 4.8 fWAR in 2016. He’s projected to have a strong follow-up season at the plate and will likely see some time at second base as Jason Kipnis works his way back from a shoulder injury.

Although 2016 only showcased the beginning of Ramirez’s success with the club, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman says it’s a standard move for Cleveland to “sign their stars early,” and indicates that Ramirez was rumored to want the deal. Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors adds that the extension will keep Ramirez under club control through three arbitration-eligible years and one year of potential free agency.