Chris Archer helps set Rays’ Opening Day record for strikeouts

AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
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Update: The Rays finished with 16 strikeouts, finalizing the new record.

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Pirates starter Francisco Liriano impressed with a 10-strikeout performance against the Cardinals on Opening Day Sunday afternoon. Rays starter Chris Archer topped it, striking out 12 in five innings of work against the Blue Jays, helping set a new franchise record for Opening Day strikeouts, per MLB.com’s Bill Chastain. Enny Romero struck out one in an inning of relief after Archer left. As the game is ongoing, any additional strikeouts will further increase the record. Archer is the first pitcher with 12 strikeouts on Opening Day since Felix Hernandez in 2007, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays, as a team, struck out 11 batters on Opening Day last season against the Orioles. Archer started that game as well, striking out out five in 5 2/3 innings. The bullpen got the remaining six strikeouts. Archer also owns the club’s individual Opening Day strikeout record, surpassing David Price (2011) and Steve Trachsel (2000), who each struck out seven in their respective starts.

Despite Archer’s performance, the Rays trailed 3-1 when he left the game. Edwin Encarnacion ripped a two-run single in the first inning and Kevin Pillar added an RBI single in the fourth. The Rays’ run came on an Evan Longoria single in the third.

Free agent slugger José Abreu signs 3-year, $58.5M deal with Astros

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Jose Abreu and the World Series champion Astros agreed to a three-year, $58.5 million contract, adding another powerful bat to Houston’s lineup.

Abreu, the 2020 AL MVP, gets $19.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He spent his first nine major league seasons with the Chicago White Sox. The first baseman became a free agent after batting .304 with 15 home runs, 75 RBIs and an .824 OPS this year.

With the Astros, he replaces Yuli Gurriel at first base in a batting order that also features All-Star sluggers Yordan Alvarez, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman and Kyle Tucker.

Gurriel became a free agent after Houston defeated the Philadelphia Phillies this month for its second World Series championship.

The 35-year-old Abreu becomes the biggest free agent to switch teams so far this offseason. Born in Cuba, the three-time All-Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year is a .292 career hitter in the majors with 243 homers, 863 RBIs and an .860 OPS.

The Astros announced the signing. Abreu was scheduled to be introduced in a news conference at Minute Maid Park.

He would get a $200,000 for winning an MVP award, $175,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third, $125,000 for fourth and $100,000 for fifth. Abreu also would get $100,000 for earning World Series MVP and $75,000 for League Championship Series MVP, $75,000 for making the All-Star team and $75,000 for winning a Gold Glove or a Silver Slugger.

Abreu gets a hotel suite on road trips and the right to buy a luxury suite for all Astros home games.