Texas made it interesting late, but the Toronto Blue Jays’ early home run barrage put the Rangers into a hole too deep to climb out of. The Jays won Game 2 of the ALDS 5-3 and now head home to Toronto with a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five series.
Yu Darvish was supposed to restore order after the Jays pounded Cole Hamels but the Jays had different ideas. Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run homer in the 2nd. In the fifth the Jays hit three solo homers off of Darvish, one each from Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and then Edwin Encarnacion. Meanwhile, the Rangers kept gathering hits off of Toronto starter J.A. Happ but stranded runners like it was their job. They only mustered one run off of Happ via an Ian Desmond RBI single in the fourth.
The sixth, seventh and top of the eighth inning went by quietly before the Rangers mounted a mini rally in the eighth. John Gibbons called on Francisco Liriano and Liriano struggled, giving up a leadoff double to Mitch Moreland, recording an out and then walking Robinson Chirinos. That brought up Carlos Gomez who lined a ball off of Liriano’s head, scoring Moreland and knocking Liriano out of the game, bringing in closer Roberto Osuna.
Osuna induced a groundout to make it 5-3, but then struck out Carlos Beltran to end the rally. He came back in for the ninth and, a double to Adrian Beltre notwithstanding — which should’ve been caught by Melvin Upton Jr. who was a nominal defensive replacement — completed the five-out save.
So now the Jays are in the driver’s seat. They get a flight back home this evening and a day off tomorrow before taking on the Rangers in Rogers Centre, up 2-0, for Game 3.
Bob Klapisch of The New York Times reports that free agent starter Gerrit Cole has a seven-year, $245 million contract offer on the table from the Yankees. As Klapisch also notes, the deal would set a record for total value and average annual value for a pitcher, besting Zack Greinke‘s $34.4 million AAV and David Price‘s $217 million total.
While it is possible that Cole signs before the end of the Winter Meetings on Thursday, clients of Scott Boras have tended to sign later in the offseason, so this may be a protracted process with today’s report as a jumping-off point. Both the Yankees’ and Angels’ front offices have received clearance from ownership to break the bank to sign Cole.
Cole, 29, could not have timed having a career year any better. During the regular season, he led all of baseball with 326 strikeouts and led the American League with a 2.50 ERA while also posting a 20-5 record and walking only 48 batters across 212 1/3 innings. He performed brilliantly in the playoffs as well, holding the opposition to seven runs on 21 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings of work as the Astros narrowly missed out on winning another championship.
Cole is entering his age-29 season, so a deal of at least seven years would take him well into his mid-30’s. Teams, especially lately, have been hesitant to commit to pitchers, but as the Nationals showed with Max Scherzer and Patrick Corbin, sometimes it leads to a championship.
For what it’s worth, Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports says the Yankees haven’t made a formal offer to Cole yet, though the club plans to make one this week. During this time of year, both sides — front office personnel and player agents — leak details to the press to help establish leverage. What we can generally take from this is that the Yankees are hot for Cole and he’s going to get a record-setting contract from some team, even if it’s not the Yankees.