Astros outfielder Brandon Barnes doubled in the bottom of the eighth for his fourth hit in as many at-bats to complete the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the fourth, singled in the sixth, leaving himself a double short with one at-bat to go. The eighth-inning double also set up a rally as the Astros scored three runs in the inning (still in progress as of this writing), cutting the Mariners’ lead to 9-6.
The 27-year-old Barnes was only hitting .232 with a .623 OPS entering the night. The cycle is a bright spot on an otherwise bleak season for the 33-61 Astros, possessing MLB’s worst run differential at -143 entering the night.
Barnes becomes the eighth Astro to hit for the cycle. The last Astro to accomplish the feat was Luke Scott on July 28, 2006 against the Diamondbacks.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.