Matt Garza dominates Royals, keeps the Rangers in the hunt

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The once-strong Rangers have had a miserable September, entering tonight’s affair against the Royals with 14 losses in 18 games during the month. With recently-acquired starter Matt Garza on the hill, the Rangers made a strong effort in reversing their fortunes tonight.

The Rangers went up 3-0 early on Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, scoring once in the first on an Elvis Andrus ground out, and twice in the third on Adrian Beltre’s RBI single to center and A.J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly. From there, Garza had all the run support he would need. The right-hander blanked the Royals over eight innings, finally relenting in the ninth when Eric Hosmer blasted a solo home run to left field. Overall, Garza allowed the one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five. Joe Nathan relieved Garza and recorded three easy outs for the 3-1 victory, his 40th save of the season.

With the loss, the Royals were eliminated from AL Central contention. For the Rangers, the victory ensures that the Athletics cannot clinch the AL West until tomorrow, following either their own win or a Rangers loss. Meanwhile, the Rangers remain a half-game behind the Indians for the second AL Wild Card. Alexi Ogando will start in tomorrow’s series finale in Kansas City. The Rangers return home for seven games to wrap up the season: three against the lowly Astros and four against the Angels.

Video: Andrew Toles hammers grand slam in Cactus League win

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Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.

Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).

Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.

David Price’s season debut could be pushed back to May

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David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.

Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:

[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.

The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.