Angels clinch postseason berth by beating Mariners

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The Angels have essentially had the AL West wrapped up for weeks now, but it was Monday’s win over the Mariners that officially put them into the postseason, as they became the first team this year to clinch a berth.

It will be the Angels’ first trip to the postseason in five years. They lost in the ALCS in 2009, which concluded a run in which they went to the postseason six times in eight years.

Rookie Matt Shoemaker got the victory in an 8-1 game Monday, taking a shutout into the eighth inning before giving up a run and leaving with a minor injury sustained on a grounder up the middle. He improved to 16-4 with a 3.04 ERA on the season.

The other bad news was that Albert Pujols left the game with a mild hamstring injury that he might need to rest for a few days. The Angels got homers from David Freese and Brennan Boesch in the rout.

For the Mariners, it was another big loss, putting a major crimp in their own postseason plans. They’ve dropped three in a row to fall two games back of the Royals for the second wild card.

At 94-56, the Angels merely need to play .500 ball from here on in to win 100 games for the second time in franchise history. If they go 7-5, they’ll overtake the 2008 Angels, who finished the season 100-62 before losing in the ALDS.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.