And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cubs 4, Nationals 3: When you’re 11-years-old and you’re imagining that you’re in the big leagues and you say something to yourself like “bottom of the ninth . . . two outs . . . two strikes . . . bases loaded . . . down by three . . . AND CALCATERRA HITS A GRAND SLAM!!!” you actually stop yourself because you realize, dude, you’re gilding the lily a bit. Yet that’s exactly what David Bote did to the Nationals last night. As a pinch-hitter, no less. He’s already living a dream as a rookie called up to fill in for an injured All-Star and is doing a fantastic job of that, but then he adds this to the memory book. All of this after Max Scherzer tossed three-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, striking out 11. An amazing moment for Bote and the Cubs. A rip-your-heart-out-and-show-it-to-them-while-it’s-still-beating moment for the Nats.

The best thing about it? Bote knew he did it the second the ball came off the bat:

Red Sox 4, Orioles 1Chris Sale struck out 12 guys in five one-hit, shutout innings. Now that he appears healthy again I suppose the Sox will end this minor league rehab stint and activate him from the disabled list.

[Editor: Uh, Craig, he was activated for this start. He was facing the Baltimore Orioles]

I stand by my statement.

Tigers 4, Twins 2: It was Jack Morris Number Retirement Day in Detroit and, afterward, Tigers starter Matt Boyd joked that Morris might be mad at him for only pitching six innings. Given that Morris, his reputation as a complete game-slingin’ horse notwithstanding, averaged 6.9 innings per outing for his career, I hope he was OK with it. Boyd also said that he has talked to Morris a bunch about pitching and that Morris has given him lots of advice. The upshot of that advice, according to Boyd:

“The theme of every conversation we’ve had is competing,” Boyd said. “Compete on every pitch . . .”

No one tell that to the BBWAA guys who, for years, erroneously claimed that Morris’ ERA was so high specifically because he did NOT compete on every pitch but, rather, “pitched to the score,” easing up in games when the Tigers had big leads.

Oh well. Boyd got the win, giving up one run on two hits and struck out three in six innings. A pretty Jack Morris-like outing, actually.

Yankees 7, Rangers 2: CC Sabathia threw six shutout innings of one-hit ball and Giancarlo Stanton and Didi Gregorius homered. In other news, the AP game story for this one framed it, basically, as “Didi Gregorius has done a good job filling Derek Jeter’s shoes at shortstop for the Yankees.” That’s an . . . interesting choice. Or at least it would be if it were written in 2015. I didn’t read the Cubs gamer, but I hope said something like “Move over Vance Law, there’s a new slugger at the hot corner in Chicago!”

Padres 9, Phillies 3: Freddy Galvis hit a grand slam against his old mates and Travis Jankowski stole four bases and scored three times which is not the sort of thing that happens much in baseball these days. Talk to some old timer and they’ll tell you it happened six times every day back in the days of big hair and plastic grass, of course. It didn’t, but they’ll still say that. Never trust an old guy telling you about how things were when he was young. A lot of the times he may be telling the truth, but always check it because old guys are often full of crap.

Giants 4, Pirates 3: I woke up at 3:30am today for no reason at all — old guys are often full of crap, but we’re also filled with non-specific anxiety and acid reflux too — so these recaps could’ve been up at 4:30am if I had tried harder. Instead I spent a lot of time screaming into the void on Twitter and getting lost in Wikipedia holes. Part of me said it shouldn’t matter. No one pays me enough to work at 3:30am and, even if I did have the recaps up at 4:30am, the only person who would’ve read them then would be my friend Lisa, who is a Five-Star General in the Wake Up Early Army and is doing stuff like going to the gym or cooking pork roasts and crap at that time. A woman after my own early-rising heart, I tells ya. Of course, thinking about how Lisa would’ve liked to read the recaps at 4:30am, and me not having them up then even though I could’ve, made me sort of sad. But then I remembered that she’s a Pirates fan and who wants a reminder that their team lost at 4:30am? That’s the sort of thing that can really kill the buzz of, I dunno, some squat-thrusts or a good pork roast. All of which is to say that now, at just before 6:30am, I’m feeling rather conflicted about it all.

Anyway: rookie Dereck Rodriguez threw seven innings of two-hit ball to up his rookie-year record to 6-1 and drop his ERA to 2.25. Son of Pudge is a pretty good one, yeah?

Cardinals 8, Royals 2Yadier Molina broke a tie with a two-run single in the seventh inning and the Cards won going away. Patrick Wisdom — who, somehow, is not a character from a low-budget 80s action movie –had two hits, drove in a run and scored two in his major league debut. The Cardinals have won five in a row. They also win the season series over the Royals, 4-2. For losing the Battle of Missouri, the Royals, I imagine, get stuck with Missouri.

Lay off, Missourians. I’ve been making this joke about Ohio for years.

Blue Jays 2, Rays 1: Marcus Stroman allowed one over five but had to hit the showers early because of a blister. Five relievers shut the Rays down the rest of the way, however, so it all worked out OK. Well, except for Stroman, who still has that blister. The Jays avoid the sweep.

Diamondbacks 9, Reds 2: The Dbacks jacked five homers out of Great American Ballpark. Paul Goldschmidt had two of them. Daniel DescalsoEduardo Escobar and David Peralta had the other three. Goldschmidt and Descalso drove in three runs a piece. The Dbacks avoid the sweep and, thanks to L.A. losing again, take over sole possession of first place in the National League West.

Mets 4, Marlins 3: Noah Syndergaard allowed three runs over seven innings and Jose Reyes and Michael Conforto each homered. The Mets take two of three. Imagine watching a Mets-Marlins game.

Braves 8, Brewers 7: The Braves blew an early lead and were outhit 19-9 on the day but they kept themselves in it and then clawed back on top via Ozzie Albies‘ tiebreaking homer in the seventh inning. Ronald Acuña and Dansby Swanson each hit two-run shots of their own. Atlanta takes two of three from the Brewers after taking two of three from the Nats. Not a bad week.

Indians 9, White Sox 7: Cleveland led 6-1 after two innings and Carlos Carrasco was outstanding, allowing a run on three hits over seven innings, striking out nine. Relievers Adam Cimber and Dan Otero tried to make it interesting in the eighth and ninth innings, allowing six runs between them, requiring Terry Fancona to bring in Cody Allen on a day when Cody Allen shoulda gotten a breather. Melky Cabrera homered and drove in three and Yandy Diaz and Jason Kipnis each knocked in a pair.

Mariners 4, Astros 3: Shut out through seven, the Astros rallied for three runs in the eighth and figured they had this one, but Ryon Healy figured differently, swatting a homer off of Hector Rondon with two out in the top of the ninth to force extras. In the tenth Dee Gordon singled off of Roberto Osuna and Mitch Haniger promptly doubled him in to give the M’s the lead and, ultimately, the win. The Mariners completed a four-game sweep of the Astros and now the AL West is a happy jumble, with Houston’s lead down to 2.5 games over Oakland, four over Seattle.

Rockies 4, Dodgers 3: The Rockies win on a walkoff walk drawn by Chris Iannetta. That’s not quite as exciting as the way they won on Saturday, via Ryan McMahon’s three-run walkoff homer, but no one in Colorado was complaining. The Rockies took three of four from L.A. All three of the losses were awarded to Dodgers relievers. Yeah, they’re already missing Kenley Jansen.

Athletics 8, Angels 7: Jed Lowrie homered and notched his 1,000th career hit as the A’s took their ninth win in the last 11 and moved to within two and a half games of the slumping Astros. The A’s led by five after five innings and almost saw the Angels come back, but they fell short.

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.