A source tells Boston-based writer Maureen Mullen that the Phillies could be interested in signing Jason Varitek as a backup catcher to Carlos Ruiz.
How seriously should we take this one? Hard to say. Unless the Phillies find a taker for Brian Schneider’s $1.5 million contract for next season, it doesn’t sound like a very realistic fit.
Varitek, who turns 39 next April, batted .232/.293/.473 with seven homers and 16 RBI in 112 at-bats this past season and was 9-for-43 (21 percent) in throwing out would-be basestealers. The veteran backstop was limited to just five games and 17 at-bats after the All-Star break due to a broken right foot.
It’s very possible that his 14-year run in Boston is over, but Peter Gammons of MLB.com presented a scenario this week where Jarrod Saltalammachia and Varitek could be a tandem behind the plate next season if Victor Martinez signs elsewhere this winter. Yeah, that wouldn’t make anybody nervous or anything.
Just one week after Taylor Cole and Felix Peña tossed a combined no-hitter against Seattle, Mariners right-hander Mike Leake worked on his own perfect game through eight innings against the Angels.
It was an ambitious form of revenge, and one that Leake served up perfectly as he held the Angels scoreless in frame after frame. He sprinkled a handful of strikeouts throughout the first eight innings, catching Matt Thaiss on a called strike three in the third and getting two whiffs — called strikeouts against both Brian Goodwin and Shohei Ohtani — in the fourth.
The Mariners, meanwhile, put up a good fight against the Angels, backing Leake’s attempt with 10 runs — their first double-digit total since a 13-3 rout of the Orioles on June 23. Daniel Vogelbach led things off in the fourth with a three-run homer off of reliever Jaime Barria, then repeated the feat with another three-run shot off Barria in the fifth. Tom Murphy and J.P. Crawford helped pad the lead as well with a two-RBI single and two-RBI double, respectively.
In the ninth, with just three outs remaining, the Angels finally managed to break through. Luis Rengifo worked a 1-1 count against Leake, then returned an 85.3-m.p.h. changeup to right field for a base hit, dismantling the perfecto and the no-hitter in one fell swoop. Leake lost control of the ball following the hit, issuing four straight balls to Kevan Smith in the next at-bat and giving the Angels their first runner in scoring position. Still at a pitch count of just 90, however, he induced the next two outs in quick fashion and polished off the win with a triumphant eight-pitch strikeout against Mike Trout for the first one-hitter (and Maddux) of his career.
Had Leake successfully closed out the perfecto, it would’ve been the first of his decade-long career in the majors and the first the Mariners had seen since Félix Hernández’s perfect game against the Rays in August 2012. For their part, the Angels have yet to be on the losing end of a perfecto. The last time they were shut out in a no-hitter was 1999, at the hands of then-Twins pitcher Eric Milton.