We have a whole new ballgame at Tropicana Field.
Evan Longoria launched a three-run homer off Clay Buchholz in the bottom of the fifth inning to tie Game 3 at 3-3. He has a habit with this kind of thing in elimination games, now doesn’t he? You can watch video of the homer below.
The big inning was set up after Yunel Escobar reached on an infield single and David DeJesus doubled to the right field gap with one out. Buchholz was able to get Ben Zobrist to pop up for the second out before Longoria delivered with the clutch blast to left field. The Rays had the chance for more after Wil Myers walked and James Loney singled, but Buchholz managed to induce a pop-up from Desmond Jennings to end the threat.
We’re tied at 3-3 as Game 3 moves to the top of the sixth inning. With Buchholz at 97 pitches and Alex Cobb at 94, this game will come down to the bullpens.
Royals outfielder Jorge Soler has been diagnosed with a strained oblique, making it likely that he begins the regular season on the disabled list, Rustin Dodd of The Kansas City Star reports.
The Royals acquired Soler from the Cubs in December in exchange for reliever Wade Davis. Over parts of three seasons with the Cubs, Soler hit .258/.328/.434 with 27 home runs and 98 RBI in 765 plate appearances.
When he’s healthy, Soler is expected to find himself in the Royals’ lineup as a right fielder and occasionally as a designated hitter.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.
Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.
Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.