And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Griffey mobbed.jpgMariners
4, Blue Jays 3
: Ken Griffey, Jr. with the pinch hit, game-winning
RBI single.  Don Wakamatsu was ejected before Griffey was sent in to the game, so it wasn’t his call.  However, a source of mine secretly
recorded the conversation that the remaining coaching staff had before
Junior was allowed to go up and pinch hit:

Bench Coach: Need to pinch hit. Send up Tuiasosopo.

Hitting Coach: What about Griffey?

Bench Coach: Ah, he’s a freakin’ corpse.

Griffey: I’m not dead.

Bench Coach:
What?

Griffey: I’m not dead.

Hitting Coach:
‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.

Bench Coach: Yes he is.

Griffey: I’m not.

Hitting Coach: He isn’t.

Bench Coach: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.

Griffey:
I’m getting better.

Bench Coach: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

Griffey: I think I’ll go for a walk.

Bench Coach: You’re not fooling anyone, you know.

Griffey: I feel happy. I feel happy . . .

Braves 10, Reds 9:  Already hit this one up yesterday, but let me say again: wow. In case you missed it.

Rays 8, Yankees 6: New York fell behind 3-0 early, but tied it up, gave up another run, and then tied it up again before a couple of Carlos Pena homers put the game out of reach. For the second night in a row a ninth inning mini-rally fell short for the Bombers, who dropped both games to the Rays.

Brewers 4, Pirates 3: Tough game: home plate umpire John Hirschbeck was knocked out of the game when a pitch hit him in the mask, Greg Zaun left because he hurt his shoulder, and the Brewers — already a man down due to Jody Gerut’s absence to be with his pregnant wife — ended up pinch-hitting with Yovani Gallardo. No harm, no foul, though, as the Brew Crew won the game and broke their brutal losing streak. Carlos Villanueva with the save. Get used to that.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 2: Adam Wainwright gives up two runs over seven innings — because he basically always pitches seven or more innings — and Matt Holliday had two doubles and a couple of RBI from his new home in the three-hole.

Red Sox 6, Twins 2: The Twins’ loss drops them back into a first place tie with the Tigers.  The offense, she struggles lately, and Francisco Liriano — lights-out in April — is getting the snot beat out of him in May, allowing 16 earned runs in 23.2 innings and losing three in a row.

Phillies 5, Cubs 4: Jose Contreras worked out of trouble in the ninth to get the save. After the game, when asked about what it’s like to be the closer, he said “At the beginning, I thought it was only one inning. Now I know how tough
it is.”  But we should all cut Contreras some slack here. After all, the save stat wasn’t even invented until he had already been pitching for ten or eleven years.

Tigers 5, Athletics 2: One of just several of the two-game series this week that, according to the game stories, resulted in a “sweep.”  Can we make a rule that you can’t “sweep” anything that isn’t at least three games long?

Royals 9, Indians 3: Hey, the Royals aren’t in last place anymore and Ned Yost is 5-2 since taking over last week. Manager of the Year, anyone? Heh — that one guy reading in Charlotte, North Carolina thought I was being serious. Hey, everyone! Let’s laugh at that guy!

Mets 10, Nationals 7: John Maine left the game after throwing only five pitches. The reason: “diminished velocity,” a reason for which I’ve never seen anyone get pulled out of a game before. Four RBI for David Wright and a 15-hit attack covered for the pitching issues, however.  What the Mets will do for a starter now is anyone’s guess. Throw R.A. Dickey once every two days, maybe.

Rockies 4, Astros 0: Sending Ubaldo Jimenez out against this Astros lineup is almost unfair. He one-hit them over seven.  Roy Oswalt (2-5 with a 2.66 ERA) is giving serious thought to stealing a convertible, grabbing Zack Greinke and going on a cross-country crime spree as a result of the run support injustices done unto him for so long.

Dodgers 4, Padres 1: Clayton Kershaw shuts down the Friars, and the Dodgers now stand a mere game out of first place.

Diamondbacks 8, Giants 7: Not something you see every day: Lincecum gives up five runs on five hits in five innings. The Dbacks scored the winning run on a wild pitch by Jeremy Affeldt.

Rangers 13, Orioles 7: Brian Matusz got shelled and the Rangers rapped
out 20 hits in all.  Heck, Baltimore had 15 hits of their own.

Angels 6, White Sox 5: The Angels have won five of seven. The White Sox have lost eight of 12. Random: Mike Scioscia gave Brandon Wood the night off because, he said, he’s “pressing too much.”  It seems like there has been an explosion in the use of the term “pressing” this year. I kind of know what they’re trying to communicate with it — someone’s trying too hard and getting frustrated, maybe — but I’d like someone to explain to me in concrete terms what the evidence is of someone pressing separate and apart from them getting poor results. Can someone ever just suck, while being free and easy out there?  Is there a difference between chasing awful pitches because one is “pressing” and doing so because one simply has crappy plate discipline?  These are the things that keep me awake at night.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.