Aaron Harang

Update: Luis Avilan loses Aaron Harang’s no-hitter with two outs in the eighth inning

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Update (9:47 PM): The Braves tacked on four runs of support after Harang was told he wasn’t coming back out for the eighth inning to complete his no-hitter. Lefty Luis Avilan replaced Harang in the bottom half of the eighth and retired the first two Mets hitters he faced, but surrendered a two-out single to David Wright, ending the no-hit bid. Avilan struck out Curtis Granderson to end the inning.

Braves starter Aaron Harang no-hit the Mets through seven innings in New York, kicking off the first of a three-game series. The tall, 35-year-old right-hander issued six walks, but the Mets otherwise weren’t able to get anything going offensively. Harang threw 121 pitches, so manager Fredi Gonzalez asked his bullpen to finish off the no-hitter for the veteran.

Chris Johnson gave Harang a bit of run support in the second inning with an RBI double. The Braves tacked on four more runs in the top of the eighth inning on a Freddie Freeman two-run home run, a throwing error by Travis d’Arnaud after Dan Uggla doubled, and an RBI double by Jordan Schafer.

Harang brought a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his Braves debut on April 2 against the Brewers. He’s been solid to start the season, entering the night with a 0.96 ERA over 18 2/3 innings in three starts. He lowered it to 0.70 ERA with his seven scoreless innings against the Mets.

The last Braves pitcher to toss a no-hitter was Kent Mercker on April 8, 1994. The last time the Mets were no-hit was on September 8, 1993 when Darryl Kile of the Astros accomplished the feat.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.