Mike Napoli homers again as Rangers win eighth straight game

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Mike Napoli homered in his fifth straight game this afternoon as the Rangers routed the Tigers 10-4 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The Rangers have now won eight consecutive games and sit at a major-league best 12-2 on the young season.

The Rangers took the Tigers out of this one pretty early, as they knocked right-hander Rick Porcello around for eight runs in the top of the first inning. This included a three-run homer by Josh Hamilton, who went 2-for-5 on the afternoon and is hitting an AL-best .424 (25-for-59) on the year. Porcello was eventually chased from the ballgame after giving up three straight hits to begin the top of the second. He gave up eight earned runs in all, tying a career-high, while the outing was the shortest of his career.

Napoli connected for a solo shot off Daniel Schlereth in the top of the ninth and suddenly Kevin Mench’s franchise record of homers in seven consecutive games is in reach. Most of you know Mench for having an unusually large head, but I know him better as the son of my high school principal. Anyway, Dale Long, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. are tied for the all-time record with homers in eight consecutive games.

Matt Harrison allowed three runs over 7 2/3 innings in the victory and improved to 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA and 13/4 K/BB ratio over his first three starts. The Rangers will look for their ninth straight win when Neftali Feliz takes on Justin Verlander in the nightcap. Now that’s a fun matchup.

RHP Fairbanks, Rays agree to 3-year, $12 million contract

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Dave Nelson/USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Reliever Pete Fairbanks and the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration when they agreed Friday to a three-year, $12 million contract that could be worth up to $24.6 million over four seasons.

The deal includes salaries of $3,666,666 this year and $3,666,667 in each of the next two seasons. The Rays have a $7 million option for 2026 with a $1 million buyout.

His 2024 and 2025 salaries could increase by $300,000 each based on games finished in the previous season: $150,000 each for 35 and 40.

Tampa Bay’s option price could increase by up to $6 million, including $4 million for appearances: $1 million each for 60 and 70 in 2025; $500,000 for 125 from 2023-25 and $1 million each for 135, 150 and 165 from 2023-25. The option price could increase by $2 million for games finished in 2025: $500,000 each for 25, 30, 35 and 40.

Fairbanks also has a $500,000 award bonus for winning the Hoffman/Rivera reliever of the year award and $200,000 for finishing second or third.

The 29-year-old right-hander is 11-10 with a 2.98 ERA and 15 saves in 111 appearances, with all but two of the outings coming out of the bullpen since being acquired by the Rays from the Texas Rangers in July 2019.

Fairbanks was 0-0 with a 1.13 ERA in 24 appearances last year after beginning the season on the 60-day injured list with a right lat strain.

Fairbanks made his 2022 debut on July 17 and tied for the team lead with eight saves despite being sidelined more than three months. In addition, he is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in 12 career postseason appearances, all with Tampa Bay.

He had asked for a raise from $714,400 to $1.9 million when proposed arbitration salaries were exchanged Jan. 13, and the Rays had offered for $1.5 million.

Fairbanks’ agreement was announced two days after left-hander Jeffrey Springs agreed to a $31 million, four-year contract with Tampa Bay that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

Tampa Bay remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.