And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Associated Press

Happy Labor Day everyone. I hope you have a good day off, if indeed you have a day off. I also hope that, no matter what you do — be it work, play, grill, watch ballgames, spend time with your family or any combination of those or other things — you take at least a few moments to appreciate why you have that time today and what the purpose of Labor Day truly is. What its origins are, what it is meant to commemorate and why it matters.

Here are yesterday’s scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 2: On Saturday, Matt Kemp hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth off of Archie Bradley to bring the Dodgers back from a 2-0 deficit and help them beat the Diamondbacks 3-2. Yesterday, after Arizona took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, Kemp hit a walkoff two-run double — again, off of Archie Bradley — to give the Dodgers another 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks. Oh, and on Friday the Dodgers came back late as well, winning 3-2 thanks to an eighth inning Justin Turner home run.

Three dramatic, come-from-behind 3-2 wins over their division rivals, two on late homers, one on a walkoff double that was almost a homer. Three games out of four to take the series. And, as of Labor Day a half-game lead in the NL West. There may be some more ups and downs in the season’s final month — the season has been full of ups and downs for the Dodgers — but at the moment they are riding pretty dang high.

Here’s Kemp’s walkoff:

Brewers 9, Nationals 4: Christian Yelich — the guy whose name you need to mention the next time one of your friends says “there’s not really a good MVP candidate in the National League — hit a grand slam and pushed his season line up to .316/.381/.559 with 27 homers. He has been particularly hot of late, hitting four homers and knocking in 14 on Milwaukee’s six-game road trip. A road trip which saw them pass St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot in the National League. If that’s not MVP stuff I don’t know what is. Keon Broxton hit a three-run homer as well to help the Brewers take two of three from the Nats. Next up: a three-game series against the Cubs at home, followed by three games against the Giants, after which they play three more against the Cubs in Chicago. They’re five games back in the division, so it’s basically now or never for Milwaukee if they want to avoid the Wild Card game.

Cubs 8, Phillies 1: Given how things are going for Philly lately, a Wild Card game seems like a delightful fantasy. This rough stretch lately has them four games back of the Braves in the NL East and now they find themselves three and a half back in the Wild Card, with the Dbacks and Rockies standing between them and the Cardinals. Here they were dominated by Jon Lester who scattered eight hits across six shutout innings, striking out seven and not walking a batter. That performance came against Philly’s ace, Aaron Nola, who struck out 11 but also gave up four runs on five hits and could make it through six. Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rizzo an Javier Baez all homered. It was Baez’s 30th dinger on the year. It was also his 100th RBI. Not bad for a middle infielder who simply does not believe in taking a walk. Chicago takes two of three from the Phillies and have won eight of ten overall.

Braves 5, Pirates 1: Atlanta had been on a bit of a rough patch but Philly losing and the Braves taking two of three from Pittsburgh helps them maintain a fairly safe lead in the East. Ronald Acuña hit his seventh leadoff homer of the year — his 23rd overall — and scored the go-ahead run in the Braves’ four-run eighth inning. Julio Teheran pitched seven innings of one-run ball. The lead over Philly stands at four, but now Atlanta has three games against the Red Sox and then four in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. Thus the “fairly” in that “safe lead” I mentioned above. Seven of their last ten games of the year come against the Phillies too, so the division is by no means settled whatsoever.

Tigers 11, Yankees 7: Rule 5 draft pick Victor Reyes hit his first major league homer, doubled twice and singled, driving in three runs to help the Tigers earn the series split. Detroit seemed to be cruising to victory here, having taken an 8-3 lead into eighth, but the Yankees scored a couple that frame and almost scored four more when Greg Bird just barely missed hitting a grand slam. Given a reprieve, the Tigers added some needed insurance in the ninth before the Yankees scored two more in the final frame.

Blue Jays 6, Marlins 1: The last time we mentioned Sean Reid-Foley in this space, he had just had a bad major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, after which he talked about how he “couldn’t really feel [his] body because [he] was so nervous” and how it “felt like [his] legs weren’t really working . . . Every pitch, nervous.” He may or may not have been nervous yesterday, but if he was he didn’t show it, having no trouble with the Marlins whatsoever. The rookie struck out ten and allowed only one run in seven innings of work, notching his first career win in the process. Teoscar Hernandez hit a three-run homer. It helps the nerves a great deal when dudes hit three-run homers for you.

White Sox 8, Red Sox 0: Sox win! James Shields threw six scoreless innings and Tim Anderson and Daniel Palka homered. Palka’s was fun: he hit one over the fence early in the at bat that the umps called fair but which was clearly foul. Palka rounded the bases, the call was overturned and he picked the bat back up to continue his at bat. Then he hit a homer that did actually count.

Royals 9, Orioles 1: Jorge Lopez allowed one run over seven innings of work as the Royals sweep the O’s and take their fifth game in a row. The other two of those wins came against the Tigers. They have seven games left against Detroit and the White Sox. The Royals are now a full five and a half games “behind” Baltimore for the worst record in baseball, and given how “tough” that schedule is, they may have a hard time “winning” that particular crown.

Reds 6, Cardinals 4: Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run homer in the top of the tenth inning — RBIs 99 and 100 for Suarez — to push Cincy past St. Louis. Suarez describing his homer after the game: “I put my bat barrel on it and hit it well and the ball went out.” Thanks, Eugenio. Brandon Dixon hit an insurance homer right after that. I didn’t look to see if he said anything equally as enlightening.

Rangers 18, Twins 4: Texas rode a nine-run sixth inning, hit six homers and had 12 extra-base hits in this laugher. Nomar Mazara hit two of the homers. Other dingers came courtesy of Robinson Chirinos, Jurickson Profar, Elvis Andrus and Drew Robinson. Rangers starter Yohander Mendez got his first career win thanks to six shutout innings. He could’ve been way worse and still won. Someone should have a talk to him about wasted effort, pitching to the score things of that nature. Pace yourself, Yohander. It’s a holiday weekend for crissakes.

Athletics 8, Mariners 2: Stephen Piscotty homered twice and drove in five runs as the A’s increased their lead for the second Wild Card at a pretty safe five and a half games over the Mariners. Edwin Jackson allowed one run on three hits in six innings of work. Felix Hernandez took the L. He’s 0-7 in his last nine outings.

Mets 4, Giants 1: Noah Syndergaard dominated the Giants, tossing his first ever complete game while striking out 11 and allowing only two hits. Michael Conforto’s two-run homer in the second inning was all the backing he needed.

Rays 6, Indians 4Brandon Lowe homered and drove in three as the Rays keep rolling. They took their 11th game in their past 13. And the run has not come against cupcakes: they took two of three from the first place Indians, split two against the first place Braves and swept the first place Red Sox in that span.

Rockies 7, Padres 3Chris Iannetta hit a go-ahead, two-run double in the seventh to help the Rockies earn the split. Not that splitting against the Padres is ideal given that the Dodgers have won three in a row, but at least those Dodgers wins came at the expense of the Diamondbacks. Man, the NL West is confusing.

Astros 4, Angels 2: Shohei Ohtani got his first start since early June. The good news: his elbow didn’t hurt and did not, he said, cause him problems. The bad news: he only lasted two innings and saw his velocity decline precipitously from pitch to pitch. George Springer certainly noticed it when he faced him for a second time, hitting a two-run homer off of him and, after the game, saying he hoped Ohtani was OK given that his fastball was ten miles per hour slower than when he saw him an inning before. After the game Mike Scioscia said Ohtani’s velocity dropoff was due to tightness in his back and a sore right ring finger after he deflected a ball off of it in the second inning. Which, sure, fine, but it’s also the case that dudes with bum elbows compensate with other muscles sometimes, maybe not even realizing they’re doing it, and they mess themselves up pretty badly as a result. Given the Angels’ poor recent history of rehabbing dudes with ligament problems — Garret Richards, anyone? — I still don’t really believe they have Ohtani out here pitching meaningless games for them. But hey, the Angels are unmatched when it comes to wasting young stars in their primes, so who am I to judge?

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

Jacob deGrom
USA Today

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.