The Rays entered this afternoon’s contest against the Twins having completed back-to-back shutouts. Starter Chris Archer shut them out over six innings on Friday while Matt Moore went three innings in a rain-soaked affair last night. The last time a Rays pitcher had allowed a run was in the sixth inning on Thursday against the Red Sox, when Stephen Drew doubled against Jamey Wright.
The great pitching continued for six innings today before starter David Price faltered, bringing the streak to 27 consecutive scoreless innings. The Rays went ahead 3-0 on a Wil Myers two-run home run in the fourth and a Sean Rodriguez solo shot in the fifth. Price took the hill in the seventh, but he loaded the bases with one out, prompting manager Joe Maddon to call upon Jake McGee. McGee surrendered a two-run single to Chris Parmelee, then recorded consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
The Rays added an insurance run in the top of the eighth on a James Loney RBI single. Joel Peralta, making his American League-leading 73rd appearance of the season, got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth and appeared to be on his way to an easy inning. Ryan Doumit slugged a solo home run to right-center to bring the Twins within a run. Peralta allowed a single to Trevor Plouffe and a walk to Josh Willingham before Josmil Pinto drove a three-run homer to left-center, putting the Twins up 6-4. It proved to be the game-winner as closer Glen Perkins tossed a perfect ninth for his 35th save of the season.
Entering the afternoon, the Rays were tied with the Rangers at 81-66 for the two Wild Card spots. The Indians, clearly visible in the rear-view mirror, were just a game and a half behind. As the Rangers lost, the Rays will be no worse than a game in front for the second Wild Card as the rest of today’s action unfolds.
The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.
It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:
We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.
While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.
Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.
Twins’ right-handed pitching prospect Yorman Landa passed away in a tragic car accident on Friday night, per a team statement. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 22-year-old Landa was in the passenger seat of the vehicle when it struck a fallen tree.
Daniel Szew, Landa’s agent, spoke highly of the young pitcher, who was one of his first clients back in 2010. Szew acknowledged Landa for helping him expand his company, LA Sports Management, and referred to the late pitcher as a leader and his “little brother.”
He was very even-keeled,” Szew said. “That was his personality. He wasn’t wild. That’s why this is so tragic. He wasn’t a wild guy. He was a happy-go-lucky guy who took life as it came, and he was super happy — always happy.
If leadership was one facet of Landa’s personality, so was loyalty. The 22-year-old agreed to a minor league contract with the Twins on Tuesday after getting cut from the 40-man roster, fulfilling a promise to re-sign with the club despite fielding multiple offers from competing teams. The deal included an invite to spring training, and comments from his agent suggested that the right-hander was “super confident” he’d break through to the major leagues in 2017, notwithstanding a troublesome shoulder injury that hampered his progress in High-A Fort Myers during the 2016 season.
“He never wanted to leave,” Szew told Berardino. “It was the only organization he ever knew.”
Our condolences go out to Landa’s family and the Twins organization during this terrible time.