Athletics halt losing streak, walk off in the ninth against the Astros

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Life has been tough for the Athletics in the second half, having lost seven of their last eight and 17 of 24 entering today’s game against the Astros. Up as many as six games in first place in the AL West, they sat six games back of the Angels going into Saturday. The flashy trades for Jeff Samardzija and Jon Lester haven’t paid dividends in the way GM Billy Beane anticipated.

Perhaps Saturday’s win, in which they erased a two-run deficit to walk off winners in the bottom of the ninth inning, is what they need to turn their season around. Starter Scott Kazmir no-hit the Astros through the first five innings, but faltered in the sixth, allowing a two-run single to Jose Altuve. The Astros tacked on another run in the seventh to make it 3-1.

Starter Scott Feldman took the hill in the bottom of the ninth to attempt a complete game win and send the A’s to yet another loss, but Josh Donaldson led off with a single. After Adam Dunn lined out, Derek Norris added a single of his own, sending Donaldson to third base. Closer Chad Qualls entered to attempt to put out the fire, but Josh Reddick belted a double to center field to tie the game at 3-3. Shortly thereafter, Jed Lowrie slapped a single into left field and a scampering Reddick narrowly beat a weak throw home by Alex Pressly, scoring the winning run.

If the A’s are able to stop the bleeding from here on out, you can bet your bottom dollar many will point to Saturday’s come-from-behind victory as a turning point.

Report: Angels and Anthony Rendon agree on seven-year, $245 million contract

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Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.

Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.

The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.

Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.