Thanks to a walk-off RBI double from Nolan Reimold, the Blue Jays secured a thrilling 3-2 victory in 10 innings this afternoon at Rogers Centre in Toronto.
This afternoon featured quite the pitchers’ duel between Blue Jays rookie right-hander Marcus Stroman and Tigers right-hander Max Scherzer. Stroman allowed two runs over a career-high nine innings while Scherzer struck out 11 batters over eight innings. Scherzer left in line for his 14th victory of the season, but Joe Nathan allowed a leadoff single to Jose Reyes to begin the bottom of the ninth inning. Reyes then stole second base before Nathan got Melky Cabrera to fly out. After an intentional walk was issued to Jose Bautista, Nathan gave up a game-tying single to Dioner Navarro to blow his sixth save of the season.
Nathan got himself into further trouble when he walked Colby Rasmus to load the bases, but Joakim Soria replaced him and managed to get the final two outs to wiggle out of the jam. After Aaron Loup sat down the Tigers with a scoreless tenth inning, Soria was unable to continue due to an injury. Joba Chamberlain then gave up an infield single to Danny Valencia and the game-winning double to Reimold to end it. Disastrous afternoon complete.
This series has already seen quite a bit of late-inning drama, as the Tigers rallied for three runs in the ninth inning last night against Casey Janssen to secure a comeback victory. The two teams will wrap up the series tomorrow, with David Price making his second start for Detroit while Toronto counters with veteran left-hander Mark Buehrle.
Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.
But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.
Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.
There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.
Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.
Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.
We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.
Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.
The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.
Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.
In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.
Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.
He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.
Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.
Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.
At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.