Five Royals ejected in Sunday’s series finale against the Athletics

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The drama between the Athletics and Royals continued on Sunday. It all began when A’s third baseman Brett Lawrie slid hard into second base on Friday, causing Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar to suffer a mild left knee strain. There was some miscommunication over whether or not Lawrie apologized via text message to Escobar. Ultimately, it didn’t matter as Royals starter Yordano Ventura hit Lawrie with a 99 MPH fastball on Saturday night, resulting in an ejection, after the A’s put up a five-spot.

The two teams took the field Sunday afternoon for the series finale but they weren’t done. Athletics starter Scott Kazmir hit Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain in the leg with a pitch, but neither side was issued a warning. Royals manager Ned Yost and pitching coach Dave Eiland were both ejected by home plate umpire Greg Gibson.

In the top of the eighth inning, Royals reliever Kelvim Herrera quickly got the first two outs of the inning to bring up Lawrie. Herrera threw a 100 MPH fastball behind Lawrie, resulting in an immediate ejection. Herrera pointed to his head Royals bench coach Don Wakamatsu and Escobar, who did not start, were also ejected.

In the bottom half of the eighth, the Royals energized Kaufmann stadium when Cain hit a game-tying RBI double. Cain then stole third base ahead of an Eric Hosmer walk to bring up Kendrys Morales. Morales clubbed a ball to center field that he thought was a home run, but it bounced off the top of the wall, scoring both runners to put the Royals up 4-2. Wade Davis set the A’s down in order in the top of the ninth inning for the save.

Herrera, after the game:

The two sides don’t match up again until June 26-28 in Oakland, so there will be plenty of time for cooler heads to finally prevail.

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.