Francisco Liriano pitches a gem, blanks Cardinals over eight innings

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Francisco Liriano was down on his luck when the Pirates signed him to a one-year, $1 million deal in February. He was coming off a year in which he posted a combined 5.34 ERA with the Twins and White Sox, the third time in four seasons he had posted an ERA in the fives.

Liriano made his season debut with the Pirates on May 11 and has looked like the ace many envisioned him becoming back in 2006 when he finished third in AL Rookie of the Year balloting. That continued tonight in an important game against the division rival Cardinals, entering the night with a tenuous one-game lead over the second-place Pirates. First baseman Garrett Jones gave his pitcher a ton of support, going 3-for-4 with a homer and four RBI, but just his two-run double in the first inning would have sufficed as Liriano was dominant from the outset.

Liriano tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out six. The Cardinals never once had a runner in scoring position against Liriano. Mark Melancon danced around a pair of base runners in the ninth to nail down the 5-0 victory. The 78-56 Cardinals and Pirates enter into a first place tie atop the NL Central. The two clubs have five more games against each other through the remainder of the regular season.

Angels sign Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million deal

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Angels have signed infielder Zack Cozart to a three-year, $38 million deal.

That seems like a bargain deal for Cozart, who hit .297/.385/.548 with 24 homers and 63 RBI as the Cincinnati Reds shortstop in 2017. In Anaheim, however, he will not be playing short — not with Andrelton Simmons around — so he’ll slide over to third base. He’s never played there, but you figure he can handle it.

This is a pretty nifty move for the Angels, as the other top third base options — specifically, Mike Moustakas — are likely going to cost a lot more than what they’ll be paying Cozart.

Between this, the Ian Kinsler trade and the Shohei Ohtani acquisition, the Angels are going to be sporting a very different look in 2018.