It wasn’t easy, but the Braves snapped their eight-game losing streak last night with a 7-6 win over the first-place Nationals at Turner Park in Atlanta.
The Braves scored all seven runs against Stephen Strasburg, who was chased after just five innings and gave up four home runs. Freddie Freeman, Justin Upton, B.J. Upton, and Tommy La Stella all went deep for Atlanta. For La Stella, it was his first major league home run. Strasburg hadn’t given up more than two home runs in any of his previous 99 starts in the majors.
It wasn’t long before the lead became tenuous, as Ervin Santana gave up four runs in the sixth inning, including a three-run homer from Anthony Rendon. Then, after a rain delay of over an hour, the Nationals got closer in the seventh with a solo homer from Wilson Ramos and a sacrifice fly from Asdrubal Cabrera. However, Jordan Walden and Craig Kimbrel were able to combine to get the final seven outs to secure the one-run victory.
The Braves now sit at 59-56 on the year, 3 1/2 games behind the Nationals in the National League East. They’ll try to keep chipping away when they send Aaron Harang to the hill tonight against Tanner Roark.
Your Friday box scores:
Nationals 6, Braves 7
Rays 4, Cubs 3 (10 innings)
Indians 6, Yankees 10
Mets 5, Phillies 4
Tigers 5, Blue Jays 4
Padres 1, Pirates 2
Rangers 3, Astros 4
Marlins 2, Reds 1
Cardinals 2, Orioles 12
Giants 2, Royals 4
Red Sox 4, Angels 2
Twins 5, Athletics 6
Dodgers 3, Brewers 9
Rockies 3, Diamondbacks 5
White Sox 1, Mariners 4
The Dodgers have signed lefty Rich Hill to a three-year, $48 million contract.The deal was reported to be imminent over the weekend, but was finalized today following Hill’s physical.
Hill missed a good deal of time in 2016 with blister issues — and he’ll be 37-years-old on Opening Day — but when he was healthy he was fantastic, posting the best season in his 12-year career. He had a a 2.12 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 110.1 innings between the Athletics and Dodgers.
Along with a healthy Clayton Kershaw a maturing Julio Urias and Kenta Maeda, the Dodgers rotation looks to be a strength in 2017.
UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that a deal is in place pending a physical. The financial terms are not yet known. UPDATE: Joel Sherman of the New York Post hears it’s in the four-year, $62 million range. That will make him, temporarily at least, the highest-paid closer in baseball history.
12:15 PM: Ken Rosenthal reports that the San Francisco Giants are close to a deal with closer Mark Melancon.
Melancon had an outstanding 2016, posting a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and a 5.42 K/BB rate in 71.1 innings while saving 47 games for the Pirates and Nationals. You may recall that the Giants had a strong interest in Melancon last summer. It was a well-founded interest given the bullpen woes which waylaid San Francisco in the second half of last season and continued on into the playoffs.
The terms of the apparently impeding deal will be known soon enough, but Rosenthal reported yesterday that Melancon was fielding offers in the four-years, $60 million range. That’s a lot for a closer, but it’ll probably look like a bargain compared to the deals signed with the other two top closers on the market, Aroldis Chapman and Kenley Jansen. Some have speculated that Chapman could get a deal closer to $100 million than $50 million, though that seems optimistic.
What the past couple of seasons have shown, however, is that having a top bullpen will get you very, very far in Major League Baseball. Champan may have been gassed at the end of Game 7, but he was essential to the Cubs’ World Series title. Powerful bullpens gave the Royals a title in 2015 and the Indians an AL pennant this past year. A weak one was, obviously, the Giants’ achilles heel.
Their great need at the back end of the pen, according to Rosenthal’s report, is apparently about to be filled.