Matt Garza dominates Royals, keeps the Rangers in the hunt

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The once-strong Rangers have had a miserable September, entering tonight’s affair against the Royals with 14 losses in 18 games during the month. With recently-acquired starter Matt Garza on the hill, the Rangers made a strong effort in reversing their fortunes tonight.

The Rangers went up 3-0 early on Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, scoring once in the first on an Elvis Andrus ground out, and twice in the third on Adrian Beltre’s RBI single to center and A.J. Pierzynski’s sacrifice fly. From there, Garza had all the run support he would need. The right-hander blanked the Royals over eight innings, finally relenting in the ninth when Eric Hosmer blasted a solo home run to left field. Overall, Garza allowed the one run on five hits and a walk while striking out five. Joe Nathan relieved Garza and recorded three easy outs for the 3-1 victory, his 40th save of the season.

With the loss, the Royals were eliminated from AL Central contention. For the Rangers, the victory ensures that the Athletics cannot clinch the AL West until tomorrow, following either their own win or a Rangers loss. Meanwhile, the Rangers remain a half-game behind the Indians for the second AL Wild Card. Alexi Ogando will start in tomorrow’s series finale in Kansas City. The Rangers return home for seven games to wrap up the season: three against the lowly Astros and four against the Angels.

Padres may have more interest in Dallas Keuchel than Bryce Harper

Dallas Keuchel
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An interesting tidbit today from The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, who noted that ongoing talks between agent Scott Boras and the Padres have focused more on starting pitcher Dallas Keuchel than slugger Bryce Harper. Earlier this week, there were conflicting reports on the Padres’ level of interest in Harper — MLB Network’s Jon Heyman heard the club had not ruled out another big signing after getting Manny Machado, while Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune talked to multiple sources who believed otherwise — but any agreement between the two is looking unlikelier by the day.

As for Keuchel, Rosenthal cautions that a potential deal is still a “longshot,” especially as the team has other, cheaper options in mind. The 31-year-old southpaw turned down a qualifying offer from the Astros last year and is likely angling for something north of the five-year, $90 million contract extension he rejected from the club in 2016. He’s coming off of another solid performance in Houston, where he went 12-11 in 34 starts with a 3.74 ERA, 2.6 BB/9, 6.7 SO/9, and 3.6 fWAR through 204 2/3 innings in 2018.

While Keuchel has failed to garner substantial interest around the league this offseason, Heyman points out that the Phillies are looking to establish themselves as frontrunners for the lefty — and they’re far less likely to have hang-ups about his asking price, too.