And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
19 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Athletics 5, Tigers 4: A Monday day baseball game in Detroit because the city did its Fourth of July fireworks downtown last night and they didn’t want to tangle up traffic any more than necessary. In Columbus, where I live, they used to do trick-or-treating on a night other than Halloween — they called it “Beggar’s Night” — for reasons that were never clear. They never did it a full week early, though, so someone should ask Detroit what in the hell it’s up to.

Anyway: Edwin Jackson pitched for Oakland, appearing with his 13th big league team, which tied a record held by Octavio Dotel. He pitched well too, allowing one run over six and striking out seven. Since he’s on the A’s he stands a better chance of being flipped for a middling prospect next month than if he pitched almost anywhere else, so Dotel’s record is gonna be in trouble if Jackson can continue to keep it in the park. Nicholas Castellanos hit a three-run homer in the seventh to give the Tigers a 4-1 lead but the A’s rallied and Jed Lowrie hit a tiebreaking solo homer in the top of the ninth.

Royals 2, Angels 0: Brad Keller was the first of three four pitchers to toss seven dominant shutout innings last night (Kenta Maeda, John Gant and Blake Snell were the others) UPDATE: I had overlooked Snell when I first posted this. Apologies, Blake. Tyler Skaggs nearly matched him, allowing one over seven, but that one — on a Lucas Duda single — was all the Royals needed. Rosell Herrera — who, surprisingly, won Kansas City’s “Last Herrera Standing” competition when Kelvin was traded — drove in the other run.

Mariners 5, Orioles 3: The Mariners drew 10 walks off of Baltimore pitching and then scored the two go-ahead runs in an inning with a bunt, some walks, a wild pitch and a sac fly. This game will be marked with exhibit stickers the next time baseball goes on trial for being really damn hard to watch sometimes.

Yankees 4, Phillies 2: Jonathan Loaisiga took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, Aaron Judge hit his 20th homer and Giancarlo Stanton stayed hot, hitting a two-run single to give the Yankees some breathing room. And some laughing room, as their lead made it reasonable for Dellin Betances, who had not swung a bat in 12 years, to come to the plate. He looked wonderfully terrible, adopting a Gary Sheffield stance and waggle. He had a Sheffield hack too, albeit with none of the Sheffield skill:

Pirates 6, Mets 4: Apropos of nothing, I have decided that the Pittsburgh Pirates are the ultimate jobber team. Like, “jobber” in the professional wrestling sense. They’re not good and they’re not going to win anything important this year, but they’re respectable enough that they can sell a loss in a way to make the other team look good, either by being competitive or by being the heel a la Joe Musgrove plunking guys or whatever. That’s an important skill in a league where the outcomes are as pre-ordained as they seem to be in Major League Baseball this year. You gotta make the stars and the scripted action look good.

There are multiple levels of jobbers, of course. Some are actually pretty skilled and could, in lesser promotions or in smaller towns, win a match or possibly even headline a show. A younger Sam Houston or maybe S.D. Jones filled this role back when I watched wrestling. Then there were the hapless jobbers whose biggest skill seemed to be getting thrown around a lot (which is itself a skill, mind you). Their job was to get crushed badly and usually quickly, such as when Randy Mulkey or whoever would lose a 12-second match via a belly-to-belly suplex when Mid-Atlantic Wrestling was trying to get Magnum T.A. over despite him having no skills. Or, perhaps, when he’d team up with his brother Bill Mulkey to lose a tag team match to the Road Warriors in 22 seconds to help sell their dominance.

The better jobbers — often called “jobbers to the stars” — would sometimes get to win occasional undercard matches at house shows against nobodies in order to help sell them as a threat later. I’ve decided this game — the Pirates against the Mets — was one of those. In it, Josh Bell hit a two-run homer and Gregory Polanco went deep while New York looked terrible in every way that matters. The win broke a losing streak for the Pirates — they had been playing rising mid-card contenders who are working on their mic skills for the past couple of series — and sent the Mets to their seventh straight loss. In short, everyone played their role.

Marlins 9, Diamondbacks 5: Shelby Miller pitched for the first time since Tommy John surgery but he didn’t pitch well, giving up five runs on six hits in three and two-thirds. He was outdueled by Dan Straily who was coming off a much shorter layoff thanks to a suspension. Brian Anderson and Cameron Maybin each drove in two for the Fish.

Rays 11, Nationals 0: Gio Gonzalez allowed the game’s first run to score on a wild pitch and then walked in run that same inning, both before recording a single out. “Ok, settle down Gio,” he probably said to himself, “things can only get bett–” and I’ll be damned, Kevin Kiermaier hit a grand slam and that was the end of poor Gio. Tampa Bay led 9-0 at one point in the sixth inning. That’s the score you lose by when you forfeit. Maybe the Nats should’ve just left then and gone to their hotel, getting a couple extra hours of sleep and not getting quite as embarrassed as they eventually did?

Braves 5, Reds 4: Cincy and Atlanta traded punches through seven and went to extras tied at four. In the eleventh Ozzie Albies, who drove in the game’s first run way back in the first, drove in its last run with a walkoff bomb. I watch more Braves games than most of you and I’m a fan, so I’m obviously biased when I say that the 21-year-old Albies is a great player who is so much fun to watch, but I hope you can appreciate him too, if for no other reason than that he did not give the cliche “I was just looking for my pitch/something I could drive/didn’t try to do too much” jazz when asked about his homer afterwards. Rather, he said this:

“It’s time to go home right now. It’s time to go deep. I went up there with one mentality, of hitting a home run.”

God love the kids.

Rangers 7, Padres 4: Texas was down 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth when they put together a five-run inning with all the runs being driven in via sac flies and singles. I wonder if it’s worse to see a lead lost via a couple of big longballs or via a death by a thousand cuts like that? I dunno. The Rangers have won eight of nine.

Blue Jays 6, Astros 3: A small early lead blown, the Jays tied it up with a Curtis Granderson solo homer in the fifth, took the lead with another Granderson solo homer in the seventh and padded that lead with a two-run shot from Randal Grichuk in the eighth. Oh, and Grichuk — who had a lot of family and friends in the stands as he’s from the Houston area — did this too:

Cardinals 4, Indians 0: John Gant dominated the Tribe, tossing seven innings of one-hit, shutout ball, with a couple of early runs on a Marcell Ozuna double giving him all the run support he needed.

In other news, I know MLB.com’s Cleveland beat writer Jordan Bastian a little bit and follow him on Instagram. He has little kids at home, he posts photos of them a lot and they’re frickin’ adorable. As such, when he tweeted this before heading to St. Louis for this series, I had a great mental image of it, making the SICK SICK BURN delivered by his four-year-old daughter all the better:

I can tell you from personal experience that your kids don’t truly grow up until they own you as thoroughly as the young Bastian girl owned Jordan with this the other night. He’ll spend the rest of his days as a baseball writer thinking about this. Again: God love the kids.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1: Dodgers win their fourth straight, Cubs lose their fifth straight, mostly thanks to Kenta Maeda, who shut the Cubbies out for seven innings on three hits while striking out nine. Kiké Hernandez homered again, going deep for the sixth time in his past 13 games. He’s playing more because Chris Taylor has had a bum hamstring, but more playing time has agreed with him, making Taylor’s loss a lot more palatable. What the heck is it with the Dodgers anyway? Seems like, for the past two or three years, losing key players to injury has simply not hurt them like it hurts other teams.

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.