Mookie Betts hits three homers, drives in eight in rout of D-Backs

Jim Rogash/Getty Images
5 Comments

Update #2 (4:20 PM EDT): Betts did get a sixth trip to the plate on Sunday, but he grounded out to third base to end the bottom of the eighth inning. He finishes the afternoon 4-for-6 with the trio of homers and eight RBI.

*

Update (3:40 PM EDT): Betts flied out to Socrates Brito in right-center field in the sixth inning. The Red Sox will need to put a few runners on base if Betts is going to get another at-bat in this game.

*

Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts is having himself an afternoon at Fenway Park. Through five innings of Sunday afternoon’s contest against the Diamondbacks, he is 4-for-4 with a two-run home run and three two-run homers, as well as a single.

Betts opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, smacking a two-run homer off of starter Zack Greinke. In the second, facing Greinke again, Betts lined a home run that just barely cleared the Green Monster in left field. Because it was caught by a fan who might have been reaching over, the call was reviewed but Betts’ three-run jack was upheld. Then, in the fifth, facing reliever Adam Loewen, Betts cranked another three-run home run to left field. That one didn’t need to be reviewed.

Betts already had a three-homer game this season, doing so on May 31 against the Orioles. It’s the 16th three-homer game of the 2016 season in the majors. Michael Saunders has the year’s only other eight-RBI game, victimizing the Orioles on June 17. Poor Orioles.

The Red Sox continued to pressure the Diamondbacks’ pitching, scoring two more runs after Betts’ fifth-inning home run. Betts will certainly have one more at-bat to attempt to hit his fourth homer of the game. If things keep going the way they’re going, he’ll get two chances. The Rangers’ Josh Hamilton owns baseball’s last four-homer game, doing so on May 8, 2012 against — wait for it — the Orioles.

Betts entered Sunday’s action batting .309/.349/.541 with 23 home runs, 76 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 18 stolen bases in 524 plate appearances.

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

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
0 Comments

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.