Rangers starter Yu Darvish brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the third time this season, but things quickly started to unravel after the right-hander began the inning with a 2-0 lead. Darvish walked Brian Dozier, then fell behind Chris Herrmann 2-0. He then threw a 91 MPH cutter over the plate, which Herrmann drilled into the stands in right field for a game-tying two-run home run. Then, after going ahead 2-1 in the count, Justin Morneau crushed a solo home run into the upper deck to break the tie. After getting two outs, Darvish surrendered a double to Trevor Plouffe, prompting manager Ron Washington to walk to the mound to call on reliever Neal Cotts.
Overall, in six and two-thirds innings, Darvish allowed the three runs on three hits and two walks while striking out 11. The outing caused his ERA to jump up five points to 2.73. It marks his 11th double-digit strikeout performance in 26 starts and he now has a total of 236 on the season. He has five starts remaining in the season, meaning he would have to average about 13 strikeouts per start to become the first 300-strikeout pitcher since Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 2002.
Once the Twins took the lead, they relied on relievers Brian Duensing, Josh Roenicke, Jared Burton, and Glen Perkins to hold the Ranger offense silent for the 3-2 victory. With the Athletics in progress against the Rays, the Rangers’ lead in the AL West temporarily drops to 2.5 games.
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.