Athletics defeat Yankees in 18 innings, sweep three-game series

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It took five hours and 34 minutes, but the Athletics finished off a three-game sweep of the Yankees with a 3-2 win in 18 innings this evening at O.Co Coliseum.

Nate Freiman played hero for the Athletics, as he dropped a one-out single into left field off Mariano Rivera to drive in John Jaso for the winning run. Preston Claiborne began the inning and got Derek Norris to ground out to second base, but he was pulled in favor of Rivera after he gave up a single to Jaso. Rivera then allowed a bloop single to Seth Smith and intentionally walked Jed Lowrie to set-up Freiman for the game-winning hit.

By the way, this was the latest that Rivera had ever pitched in a game. Yes, even in his 19th and final season, the all-time saves leader still has some firsts left.

The Athletics nearly won the game three innings earlier on a single by Coco Crisp. However, Vernon Wells made a strong throw to the plate and Chris Stewart held on after a collision with Brandon Moss to get the out.

The Yankees got a two-run homer from Robinson Cano off Jarrod Parker in the first inning, but they were held off the board for the next 17 frames. Mark Teixeira, Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and Wells went a combined 0-for-28 and had three strikeouts each. Ouch.

This is the third game this month to go 18 innings or more, joining Rangers-Blue Jays (18 innings) and Marlins-Mets (20 innings) from this past Saturday. As ESPN’s Jayson Stark notes, that doesn’t happen often.

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.