Astros outfielder Robbie Grossman isn’t exactly a household name, but he was on all the TV sets late Saturday night when he went to the wall in right field and robbed Blue Jays pinch-hitter Juan Francisco of a game-tying two-run home run in the eighth inning, preserving Brett Oberholtzer’s win.
Manager Bo Porter brought in lefty reliever Tony Sipp when the Blue Jays pinch-hit Francisco for right-hander Danny Valencia. Sipp’s first pitch to Francisco was an 81 MPH slider, and Francisco put a charge into it, sending a fly ball out to deep right field. Grossman ranged back, timed his leap, and snagged the ball at the apex of his jump with his glove clearly above and beyond the yellow line at the top of the fence.
The Astros hung a four-spot on the Jays in the bottom of the eighth, bumping their lead to 8-2 and ultimately winning by that score. The game had a little bit of everything: SABR 44, the open roof, a knuckleballer, Grossman’s catch, and Jonathan Singleton’s inside-the-park home run.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.