Nothing in the Cardinals-Dodgers game was supposed to happen

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A game featuring the NL’s best and either second or third best starters this year resulted in a 10-9 victory for the Cardinals over the Dodgers on Friday.

Let’s look at everything that wasn’t supposed to happen.

– Clayton Kershaw gave up eight runs, despite finishing with 10 strikeouts and no walks, a unique line in postseason history. From 1903 to 2014, there were just nine starters to end a postseason game with at least 10 strikeouts and no walks. Four of them were Cliff Lee. None of them gave up more than three runs. Even in the regular season, a pitcher had had such a line just twice since 1914: the Angels’ Frank Tanana gave up eight runs with a 10/0 K/BB in six innings on June 14, 1976 and the Phillies’ Curt Schilling did the same over seven innings on June 22, 1998.

– Kershaw, the certain NL Cy Young winner and likely NL MVP, is now the only pitcher ever to give up at least seven earned runs in consecutive postseason starts, having allowed seven against the Cardinals in Game 6 of the NLCS last year. He  had given up eight runs just twice in 209 regular-season starts. He gave up nine against the Rockies on April 26, 2009 and eight against the Cardinals on July 24, 2012.

– Cardinals rookie outfielder Randal Grichuk homered off an 0-2 curveball from Kershaw in the first. According to legend, Kershaw had given up just two homers on curveballs ever.

– Adam Wainwright gave up six runs and 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. It matched his shortest start of the 2014 season. He didn’t give up more than 10 hits in any of his 32 regular-season starts.

– Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis went 4-for-5 and homered off Adam Wainwright. He never once had more than two hits in a regular-season game this year. He also hit a total of three homers in 283 at-bats. He had hit .183 with one homer in 218 at-bats against righties.

– Matt Carpenter had a solo homer and a three-run double off Kershaw, giving him his first four-RBI game of the year. He had a total of three extra-base hits in 84 at-bats last month.

– Cardinals lefty specialist Randy Choate gave up a homer to Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth inning. It was the first postseason run he had allowed since he was pitching for the Yankees in Game 1 of the 2001 World Series.

– It was the first time a team allowed nine runs and won a postseason game since the Cardinals beat the Rangers 10-9 in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. That’d seem to be a pretty good omen.

– Oh yeah, and there’s was also benches-clearing incident, one that resulted from a hit by pitch but wasn’t instigated by either the pitcher or batter involved. While Yasiel Puig reacted not a bit after being plunked by Adam Wainwright, on-deck hitter Adrian Gonzalez and catcher Yadier Molina got into it afterwards.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.