Cubs slug their way past the Indians 9-3, forcing World Series Game 7

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Cubs shortstop Addison Russell decided to take things into his own hands to ensure that his team will play in a winner-take-all Game 7 of the World Series. After Kris Bryant hit a solo home run to open the scoring in the bottom of the first inning of Tuesday evening’s Game 6, Russell hit a two-run double — really, a miscommunication between center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall — off of starter Josh Tomlin in the first inning, knocking in Anthony Rizzo and Ben Zobrist to push the Cubs’ lead to 3-0. Russell padded the lead to 7-0 in the third inning by blasting a grand slam to center field against reliever Dan Otero, shortly after Tomlin departed. With six RBI, Russell tied a single-game World Series record.

Starter Jake Arrieta wasn’t unhittable, but he had more than enough cushion to pitch comfortably through 5 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and three walks with nine strikeouts on 102 pitches. The Indians pecked away for a run in the fourth inning on a Mike Napoli RBI single and again in the fifth on a Jason Kipnis opposite-field solo home run, cutting the margin to 7-2.

Arrieta exited the game after issuing a walk to Chisenhall with two outs in the sixth. Lefty Mike Montgomery entered to face Coco Crisp, which prompted Indians manager Terry Francona to counter by pinch-hitting with Brandon Guyer. On Montgomery’s first pitch, Guyer grounded into a fielder’s choice to shortstop to end the inning.

Montgomery stayed in the game but issued a one-out walk and then allowed a two-out single, so Cubs manager Joe Maddon decided to bring in closer Aroldis Chapman to put out the fire. Lindor hit a grounder to Rizzo at first base but Chapman narrowly beat him to the bag. Lindor was originally called safe, but the play was quickly overturned upon replay review. Chapman appeared to hurt his leg on the play, but…

Chapman remained in the game for the eighth, bad leg and all. He struck out Napoli, but then gave up a single to center off the bat of Jose Ramirez. Chapman was able to end the inning, though, inducing a 6-4-3 double play from Yan Gomes. An important piece of data to note: four outs on 15 pitches.

After Kris Bryant singled with tow outs in the top of the ninth, Anthony Rizzo put the game even more out of reach with a two-run home runoff of Mike Clevinger, boosting the Cubs’ lead to 9-2.

Chapman, somewhat inexplicably, took the mound again for the bottom of the ninth inning. He issued a leadoff walk to Guyer, ending his evening at 20 pitches. Pedro Strop came in and gave up an RBI single to right field by Roberto Perez. Perez, however, was thrown out trying to take second base for the second out of the inning. Strop then walked Carlos Santana. Maddon came out to bring in lefty Travis Wood to face the lefty-hitting Kipnis. Kipnis feebly popped out to Russell in shallow left field near the foul line to end the game in a 9-3 victory for the Cubs.

The seventh and final game of the World Series will take place at 8 PM EDT on Wednesday night at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Kyle Hendricks will get the ball for the Cubs and Corey Kluber will make his third World Series start for the Indians.

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

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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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.