The big series of the weekend kicked off last night in Cincinnati, as the Reds blanked the second-place Pirates by the score of 3-0 in front of a sellout crowd of 40,829 at Great American Ballpark.
Mat Latos was dominant in the victory, allowing just four hits (all singles) over 7 1/3 shutout innings while striking out five and walking three. It turned out that a second inning inside-the-park homer by Chris Heisey was all the offense he needed, but Latos helped his own cause in the bottom of the fifth inning by launching a two-run home run off Wandy Rodriguez. It was the third homer of his career.
The newly-acquired Jonathan Broxton induced a key double play ground ball in the top of the eighth while Aroldis Chapman worked around a hit-by-pitch of NL MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen in the ninth inning for his 24th save of the season. After the game, Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman stayed true to his word by having his head shaved on the field for charity. Great night all around for Cincy.
With the win, the Reds increased their lead in the National League Central to 4 1/2 games. The Pirates will hope to chip away at that lead tonight when they send the struggling James McDonald to the hill against Mike Leake.
Your Friday box scores:
Mariners 3, Yankees 6
Marlins 4, Nationals 7 (first game of doubleheader)
Marlins 5, Nationals 2 (second game of doubleheader)
Indians 2, Tigers 10
Diamondbacks 4, Phillies 2
Orioles 0, Rays 2
Twins 6, Red Sox 5 (10 innings)
Astros 1, Braves 4
Rangers 5, Royals 3
Brewers 3, Cardinals 9
Angels 6, White Sox 8 (10 innings)
Giants 16, Rockies 4
Blue Jays 4, Athletics 5 (15 innings)
Mets 1, Padres 3
Cubs 1, Dodgers 6
The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.
Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.
While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.