Royals, Orioles headed into the ninth inning of ALCS Game 2 tied at 4-4

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The Royals and Orioles are playing another nail-biter as they head into the ninth inning of ALCS Game 2 locked in a tie at four apiece. After starters Yordano Ventura (who left with an injury) and Bud Norris faltered early, both teams’ bullpens have been racking up the zeroes.

On the Royals’ side, Brandon Finnegan, Kelvin Herrera, and Wade Davis have combined to throw 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out two. Orioles relievers Brad Brach, Andrew Miller, and Darren O’Day have combined to toss 3 2/3 scoreless frames on one hit and a pair of walks while striking out three.

Game 1 on Friday night went 10 innings, ultimately going to the Royals. The Royals have already played four extra-inning games this post-season, winning all of them. It’s quite possible there will be a fifth tonight.

Update: Maybe not. The Royals took a 5-4 lead in the top of the ninth when Alcides Escobar hit a ground rule double down the right field line, scoring pinch-runner Terrence Gore.

Update #2: Make it 6-4 thanks to Lorenzo Cain’s ground ball single to left field to score Escobar.

Yasmani Grandal signs a four-year, $73 million deal with the White Sox

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The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.

Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.

The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.

The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.