In addition to re-signing Chris Young yesterday the Nationals also announced the signing of Gabriel Alfaro, a 30-year-old right-hander who’s spent the past two seasons thriving in the Mexican League.
Alfaro, who began his pro career pitching in the Blue Jays’ farm system in 2005, posted a 2.58 ERA and 163 strikeouts in 129 innings as Oaxaca’s closer during the past two seasons, saving 26 games each year.
For the Nationals there’s no real risk involved in giving him a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training and if Alfaro’s stuff translates to the majors they may have found a solid setup man.
The big news, of course, is Ichiro’s retirement. But there was a baseball game that counted today as well and the Mariners took it. Seattle beat Oakland 5-4 in 12 innings to sweep the two-game Japan Series.
Ichiro may have taken an 0-for-4 in his last game, but Ryon Healy and Mitch Haniger homered for the Mariners, staking Seattle to a 3-0 lead after three. The A’s picked up two in the fifth and Seattle added one via a Jay Bruce sac fly to make it 4-2 in the seventh. Oakland tied things back up, ultimately sending it to extras when Khris Davis singled in Matt Chapman in the seventh. Davis would blow a chance to put Oakland ahead in the 11th when he struck out with the bases loaded.
In the twelfth, Domingo Santana, who hit a grand slam in Seattle’s win in the opener on Wednesday, beat out a would-be double-play with the bases loaded to drive in the go-ahead and, ultimately, winning run.
The rebuilding Mariners are now 2-0 on the young year. The A’s, who won 97 games last year, are 0-2. Viva the smallest of sample sizes.