Kyle Farnsworth blows lead, has tender elbow

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Rays closer Kyle Farnsworth was handed the ball in the ninth inning Saturday night with a 5-3 lead over the visiting Red Sox. He retired the first batter he faced, Marco Scutaro, on a weak groundout.

But almost nothing went right from there.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury hit back-to-back home runs to the right field seats at Tropicana Field, tying the game suddenly at 5-5.

Dustin Pedroia then doubled and Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk before Rays manager Joe Maddon decided to make a change at pitcher.

Evan Longoria eventually saved the day with a walkoff RBI single in extra innings, but the surging Rays may be without their battered closer for the next week or so.

It was Farnsworth’s second straight blown save opportunity, and he was diagnosed afterwards with tenderness in his throwing elbow. This according to Chris Girandola of MLB.com.

“It just never got loose,” Farnsowrth said. “I could never just finish my pitches. I tried to go out there and do the best I could, but I didn’t have my best stuff. It’s tough because I want to go out there and perform for my team, but I just have to take it day by day.”

The Rays have quietly fought their way back into the American League Wild Card mix and currently sit just 4 1/2 games back of the Red Sox. It’s not a great time for Farnsworth to suddenly fall to pieces.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.