Grant Balfour agreed to a two-year, $15 million contract with the Orioles in mid-December before they claimed he failed a physical exam and nixed the deal.
More than a month later Balfour signed a two-year, $12 million contract with the Rays and at the press conference yesterday he repeatedly stressed that he’s “100 percent healthy” while implying that the Orioles did him dirty:
I’ve had an eventful offseason to say the least. That was a bit of a stressful thing to see that go down knowing that I knew I was perfectly healthy. I did take a physical [for the Rays], and I passed with flying colors, apparently.
What happened there in Baltimore is in the past. It was something that, to be honest with you, I had other offers on the table and other teams telling me that I didn’t have to take a physical because they believed in my medicals and everything that they’d heard, that I didn’t even have to go and take a physical with them.
I’m totally healthy–100 percent healthy–and you’ll see that when I take the field April 1 here. I’m looking forward to it.
Balfour ultimately landed in a good spot, with a good team and a multi-year contract at age 37, but the Orioles backing out of the original deal cost him $3 million and for a pitcher getting what may be his last big payday that’s probably pretty tough to swallow.
It should be interesting when he takes the mound against Baltimore for the first time.
For the first time in major league history, both pitchers in a playoff game have struck out at least 11 batters, per MLB.com’s Paul Casella. Mets starter Jacob deGrom has pitched just a hair better than Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw overall. deGrom has blanked the Dodgers on five hits and a walk. Kershaw made one mistake, resulting in a solo home run to Daniel Murphy in the fourth inning. He’s allowed four hits and two walks total.
The last time opposing starters each struck out 10 in a post-season game was back in 1944 in Game 5 of the World Series when Mort Cooper of the St. Louis Cardinals struck out 12 and Denny Galehouse of the St. Louis Browns struck out 10.
Mets outfielder Michael Cuddyer has already made a pair of mistakes in left field and he’s only four innings into the first game of the best-of-five NLDS against the Dodgers.
Leading off the second inning, Justin Turner sent a well-struck liner to Cuddyer which was quite catchable, but the ball clanked off of the veteran’s glove. Turner was credited with a double. Mets starter Jacob deGrom was able to work around the misplay, striking out Andre Ethier, A.J. Ellis, and Clayton Kershaw to close out the frame.
With two outs in the third inning, Corey Seager sent a fly ball down the left field line. Cuddyer took an inefficient route and the ball bounced about a foot inside the foul line, then into the stands, giving Seager a ground-rule double. To add insult to injury, Cuddyer ended up tumbling over the fence. deGrom, again, worked around Cuddyer’s mistake, striking out Adrian Gonzalez to end the inning.
Because he bats right-handed, Cuddyer got the start in left field over the left-handed-hitting rookie Michael Conforto against Kershaw, a southpaw. Conforto mustered only a .481 OPS against lefties this season compared to Cuddyer’s .698. Despite the batting disparity, one wonders how short a leash manager Terry Collins has on Cuddyer given his defense.
Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning, belting a solo home run to right field at Dodger Stadium off of starter Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw a 2-0, 94 MPH fastball and Murphy didn’t miss it.
Both teams’ starters are pitching quite well overall. Kershaw has allowed the one run on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts. Jacob deGrom started off the game with six consecutive strikeouts and has struck out seven total while blanking the Dodgers on three hits and a walk in three innings.
Kershaw doesn’t have the most impressive post-season track record, owning a career 5.12 ERA across eight starts and three relief appearances spanning 51 innings. Aside from the homer, the lefty appears to be putting that notion aside.