Luis Robert

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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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From Rio Ruiz’s first major league home run to Mike Clevinger’s first seven-inning shutout, here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Braves 5, Nationals 2: The Braves hammered Max Scherzer and Matt Albers for three home runs on Saturday, putting the cherry on a week that has already seen five wins in seven games. No home run was sweeter than that of rookie third baseman Rio Ruiz, whose 372-foot bomb in the second inning was also his second extra base hit in the major leagues.

Pirates 6, Phillies 3: Whatever glimmer of hope Jeremy Hellickson gave the Phillies on Friday was gone by Saturday afternoon. Vince Velasquez hurled his fourth loss of the year, exiting after 5 1/3 innings with five runs, two walks and six strikeouts. The Pirates, meanwhile, picked up their fourth win of the week on a four-run inning from Francisco Cervelli and Adam Frazier, though it wasn’t quite enough to dig them out of last place in the NL Central.

Athletics 8, Red Sox 3: All eyes were on the A’s on Saturday. Mark Canha, Khris Davis and Chad Pinder dominated in the fifth inning, muscling three home runs to put the A’s up 7-3 after five. Jed Lowrie returned in the seventh to unleash the final home run of the day, a 409-foot blast that landed in the right field bleachers and cemented Oakland’s third consecutive win.

Rays 9, Yankees 5: A feud between Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi and home plate umpire Scott Barry escalated during the club’s 9-5 loss on Saturday. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Barry that he missed a few pitches during Logan Morrison‘s at-bat against Giovanny Gallegos, which eventually led to a two-RBI single in the fifth inning. Both Rothschild and Girardi (who also claimed Barry had been giving his players odd looks) were ejected, but not before the skipper expressed the full extent of his irritation:

Reds 12, Rockies 8: No pitcher was safe at Great American Ball Park this weekend. Both Tim Adleman and Antonio Senzatela had vanished by the sixth inning, leaving 12 runs in their wake — including the Rockies’ six-run spread in the fifth. The Reds returned in the sixth with a six-run spread of their own, grabbing the go-ahead run on a three-run shot by Scott Schebler, his 11th of the season:

Indians 3, Astros 0: Mike Clevinger hasn’t looked this good since… well, maybe ever. The Indians’ right-hander hurled seven pristine innings against the league-leading Astros on Saturday, holding them to two hits and two walks and setting down a career-high eight strikeouts. Backed by the dynamic duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, each of whom also set down scoreless innings, the shutout was in the books in just two and a half hours.

Mets 7, Angels 5: Jose Reyes isn’t exactly having a banner year, but he managed to worm his way into the exclusive 2,000-hit club on Saturday. He lined a base hit off of the Angels’ Alex Meyer in the first inning, joining Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Matt Holliday as the eighth active major leaguer with at least 2,000 hits under his belt.

Giants 3, Cardinals 1 (13 innings): The Giants currently rank second-worst among major league teams with just 154 runs scored in 44 games, good for an average of 4.53 runs per game. Their focus on small ball was evident during Saturday’s extra-inning win, driven by eight shutout innings from Jeff Samardzija and a shutdown performance by the ‘pen.

Rookie sensation Christian Arroyo finally broke through in the 13th inning, smashing a one-out, two-run double to the left field wall to get the Giants on the board. Nick Hundley followed with a sac fly in the next at-bat and Mark Melancon did the rest, allowing the Cardinals a single run before shutting the rest of the lineup down for his eighth save of the season.

Tigers 9, Rangers 3: The Rangers’ 10-game win streak came to an abrupt and dramatic end on Saturday. Justin Verlander led the charge against Texas, silencing the Rangers’ bats through three frames before allowing a two-run double in the fourth. Jonathan Lucroy returned for a solo shot in the sixth inning, but that’s about as much damage as the Rangers could muster. The Tigers, on the other hand, lost no time building their lead, going back-to-back-to-back with three long blasts in the first inning:

The win brought the Tigers within 1.5 games of the division lead, though they might find it difficult to unseat the 21-17 Twins (a concept that, for some reason, doesn’t seem entirely ludicrous in 2017).

Diamondbacks 9, Padres 1: The Diamondbacks continued building their case for first place in the NL West on Saturday, stymieing the Padres’ efforts with a nine-run effort and chasing right-hander Luis Perdomo out of the fourth inning. They only needed one inning’s worth of runs to secure their 26th win of the year, however, putting up a five-run lead on Paul Goldschmidt‘s two-run single, Jake Lamb‘s RBI double and a center field blast for Chris Herrmann:

White Sox 16, Mariners 1: It was a big day for the White Sox, who netted Cuban prospect Luis Robert and celebrated with a season-high 16 runs against the Mariners. Seattle right-hander Yovani Gallardo was tagged for 10 runs in his fourth loss of the season, spreading nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. The bullpen fared little better against Chicago’s explosive offense, giving up another five runs in the seventh inning with Todd Frazier‘s two-RBI single and a pair of home runs from Matt Davidson and Willy Garcia:

Garcia’s blast was his first in the majors, a double-deck shot that put the White Sox up 15-1 through seven innings. The win marked the Sox’ highest-scoring game since April 2014, and their highest-scoring game against the Mariners since 2000.

Royals, Twins (postponed): The Twins will host a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon, led by Minnesota lefty Adalberto Mejia and Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy for Game 1 and followed by Phil Hughes and an unnamed starter in Game 2.

Brewers, Cubs (postponed): Just because there wasn’t baseball at Wrigley Field on Saturday doesn’t mean there wasn’t fun to be had:

Report: White Sox nearing deal with Luis Robert

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The White Sox are working on a deal with Cuban outfielder Luis Robert, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The deal is said to be between $25-30 million, with a final figure somewhere north of $45 million with taxes (via Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan). The White Sox have yet to officially confirm the signing.

The club was rumored to be one of the top three frontrunners to land Robert, Passan wrote on Thursday. Unlike several other suitors, the White Sox have not recently exceeded their international spending limits, allowing them to offer Robert a sizable bonus without incurring exorbitant tax penalties. They’ll be shackled to those penalties on any additional international free agent they sign over the next two years, preventing them from offering a bonus above $300,000.

It’s a prudent move for the White Sox as they push forward with a full-scale rebuild over the next several years. At 19 years old, Robert already profiles as one of the top two international talents on the market, second only to Japanese pitcher/slugger Shohei Otani. His elite power and speed will make him a formidable center fielder and one of the White Sox’ top two prospects alongside rookie third baseman Yoan Moncada.

Reds probably can’t afford Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

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According to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds are unlikely to land Cuban outfielder Luis Robert when he becomes eligible to sign with a major league team on Saturday. Comments from Reds’ GM Dick Williams suggest that Robert could command a price far above what the club is able to pay. Not only will the 19-year-old outfielder’s speed and power attract a sizable contract, but any interested team that previously exceeded their international spending limit will be forced to kick in a 100% penalty on whatever bonus Robert receives. That includes the Reds, who blew past their limit last year after inking shortstop Alfredo Rodriguez to a $7 million deal and paid the 100% penalty when they signed right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez several months later.

Robert has garnered substantial interest around the league and appears to be in line for a heftier contract than those of fellow Cuban stars Rodriguez and Gutierrez. Recent reports from Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, among others, list the Astros, Athletics and Padres as other potential suitors, with the White Sox and Cardinals looking like notable frontrunners. Passan cites unnamed sources who claim Robert has already chosen a landing spot and is just biding his time until the deal becomes official on Saturday.

With the increasingly restrictive measures of the collective bargaining agreement curtailing the amount teams can spend on international talent, Robert figures to rake in the last significant payday for Cuban players. That makes things difficult for the Reds, who would have had to drop something like $20 million upfront just to see whether Robert’s elite tools survive the transition to the majors. Per Buchanan:

We saw a player we liked and were willing to go to a certain amount for him if we can get him,” Williams said. “There’s a certain amount beyond which a franchise in our market just can’t afford.