And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Jon Niese.jpgMets 3, Padres 0: Jon Niese gave up a double to lead off the third. Otherwise: perfect.  Niese said after the game that he didn’t even realize it.  In related news, somewhere Oliver Perez told someone that his knee was feeling better, after which he was beaten with a pillowcase full of soda pop cans to ensure that there is no hope of his return.  Oh, there was a first game of the doubleheader too: Padres 4, Mets 2: Mat Latos outdueled Johan Santana to snap the Mets’ home win streak at nine. Twenty-two Mets went down in order to end the game after Henry Blanco’s home run in the second inning.

Marlins 2, Phillies 0:  Josh Johnson has been incredible lately. Last night he shut out the Phillies on three hits over eight.  He has gone six straight starts giving up either zero or one earned run.  Tough luck loss for Roy Halladay, who was almost as good (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8K).  After the game Charlie Manuel was asked if he thought it was possible that the Phillies would be shut out seven times this early in the season. His response: “In this game there’s a whole lot of crap possible.”  God, I love Charlie.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4: Wow, that last play was something. Craig Counsell laid down a bunt with Carlos Gomez at first. Gomez goes with the pitch and doesn’t stop at second base, mostly because there is no one covering third. The Cubs try to get Counsell, and fail to. By then the catcher had made it down to third base for a play on Gomez. The throw to third is off the mark and Gomez comes in to score.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Jake Arrieta made his major league debut and gave up three runs on four hits over six, collecting his first win. Amazingly, when you adjust that pitching line for the strength of the Pirates’ lineup instead of the Yankees, it translates to 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14K.

Indians 8, Red Sox 7: Wild, baby; wild.  The Sox jump out to a 5-0 lead, the Tribe battles back to go ahead 6-5 in the sixth, Adrian Beltre hits a two-run homer in the ninth to put Boston back on top 7-6, and then Cleveland rallies in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Awful loss for the Sox. Their only saving grace is that the whole city was likely watching the Celtics  beat the Lakers.

Braves 11, Diamondbacks 7: On the one hand I feel bad that Tommy Hanson didn’t get the win despite striking out ten guys in 5.1 innings and having left with a 7-2 lead. On the other hand, if he would figure out how to go 5.1 innings without throwing 121 pitches, maybe his record would be less dependent on the ups and downs of his bullpen. Dontrelle Willis only gave up two earned runs, but it was by dumb blind luck that he wasn’t beaten out of the building. He was pretty terrible, with poor control. The only reason he escaped with as little damage as he did was because the Braves stranded runners to beat the band in this series. 47 runners, to be precise. How they did that and split the four games is a testament to how bad the Dbacks’ pen is.

Rangers 12, Mariners 3: Not sure what the question is, but Ryan Rowland-Smith sure as hell ain’t the answer (5.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 4 ER). The Rangers put up 33 runs on the M’s in the series.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: Joe Maddon on why he kept Carl Crawford out of the game: “There’s nothing wrong. We just want to get him off his
feet, especially on the turf. He’s always had trouble with
this particular field.” Strange comment given that this was a home game. He plays half his games on that particular field, doesn’t he?

Nationals 4, Pirates 2: There’s no shame in getting dominated by Stephen Strasburg, but getting swept by the Nats is not exactly the Pirates’ finest hour.  Three straight games with a homer for Adam Dunn.

Reds 7, Giants 6: The Giants jumped out to a four-run lead, but the Reds clawed back, capping it with a eighth-inning rally featuring a two-run triple by Brandon Phillips and a Joey Votto single which plated Phillips for what would be the winning run. Dusty Baker after the game: “I don’t know if you expect it, but I know everybody believes, from the
players to the administrative assistants to the grounds crew.”  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a major league manager give a shoutout to Helen in accounting.

Astros 5, Rockies 4: Roy Oswalt gets back on track after a couple of bumpy starts (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 9K). Puts him squarely back in the “Strasburg trade bait” category, I’m assuming.

Athletics 6, Angels 1: Trevor Cahill allowed one run in eight innings to win his fourth in a row. The A’s did something really rare, too: beat up on Ervin Santana a little bit, who has absolutely owned them.

White Sox 3, Tigers 0: Omar Vizquel hit his annual home run (and bunted in a run on the old suicide squeeze). John Danks gave up a single hit in seven innings.

Royals 9, Twins 8: Hey look! Some of Dayton Moore’s former Braves projects are paying off. Bruce Chen gets the win and is now 3-0 (he’s the mini-Silva) and Wilson Betemit hit two home runs. Not that it was easy. The Royals frittered away much of their 8-1 lead and had to hold on for dear life in the ninth. Let’s let Ron Gardenhire assess the Twins’ performance: “Probably as sloppy as we’ve played in a long time. I don’t remember the last time we had a defensive
ballgame as bad as that one. Baserunning, pretty bad, too.”

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.