Johan Santana is struggling since his no-hitter

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Did the 134 pitches take a toll? After getting lit up by the Yankees last week, Johan Santana gave up four runs in five-plus innings Thursday versus the Rays in his second start since his no-hitter.

The 134 pitches Santana threw in shutting down the Cardinals were a career high for the left-hander, who was handled carefully during the first two months in his first season back from shoulder surgery. Pitching on six days’ rest last Friday, he gave up six runs and four homers in five innings in a loss to the Yankees. Today, working on five days’ rest, he got a win, but he allowed four runs in five-plus innings.

It actually should have been worse. Santana loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth, giving up a single to Hideki Matsui, a double to Ben Zobrist and a walk to Matt Joyce. Jon Rauch took over and managed to strand all three runners by getting two strikeouts and then a groundout.

Santana threw just 51 of his 95 pitches for strikes in this one. He issued four walks, his second highest total of the season (he walked five in the no-hitter).

Santana’s ERA has jumped from 2.38 to 3.23 since the no-no and would be higher if not for Rauch’s effort. The Mets have to be hoping its an aberration, not a trend. Santana and R.A. Dickey have been an outstanding one-two punch so far, but Santana needs to return to May form to keep that up.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.