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Mariners sign pitcher Yusei Kikuchi

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Jon Heyman reports that the Seattle Mariners have signed pitcher Yusei Kikuchi. He had been posted by his NPB team, the Seibu Lions. The deadline for him to have signed with a U.S. team was tomorrow.

Heyman says it’s a three-year contract with a player option for 2022, with the option possibly being replaced with an additional four-year guarantee. At the moment he will reportedly make $43 million over those three years.

Kikuchi has a 73-46 career record with a 2.77 ERA in NPB, going 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA this year while striking out 153 batters in 163 and two-thirds innings. The year before that he went 16-6 with a 1.97 ERA while striking out 217 batters and walking only 49 in his 187 and two-thirds.

Kikuchi is a fastball-slider pitcher some have compared to Patrick Corbin. He’s generally viewed by major league scouts as a potential mid-rotation starter.

On a night full of letdowns, Yankees’ defense let them down the most

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Game 4 of the ALCS was a gigantic letdown for the Yankees for myriad reasons. They lost, first and foremost, 8-3 to the Astros to fall behind three games to one. Their fans continued to act boorishly. CC Sabathia exited with an injury, likely the final time he’ll pitch in his career. The offense went 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

The biggest letdown of the night, though, was the Yankees’ defense. They committed four errors, their highest total in a postseason game since committing five errors in Game 2 of the 1976 ALCS.

Make no mistake: the two three-run home runs hit by George Springer and Carlos Correa, given up by Masahiro and Chad Green respectively, were the big blows in the game. But the errors contributed to the loss and were downright demoralizing.

The first error came at the start of the top of the sixth inning, when Alex Bregman hit a cue shot to first baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu couldn’t read the bounce and the ball clanked off of his knee, allowing Bregman to reach safely. He would score later in the inning on Correa’s blast.

The Yankees committed two errors in the top of the eighth, leading to a run. Yuli Gurriel hit another grounder to LeMahieu, which he couldn’t handle. That not only allowed Gurriel to reach safely, but Bregman — who led off with a double — moved to third base. He would score when second baseman Gleyber Torres couldn’t handle a Yordan Álvarez grounder.

Error number four occurred when Altuve hit a grounder to Torres to lead off the top of the ninth. The ball skipped right under his glove. Facing Michael Brantley, Jonathan Loaisiga uncorked a wild pitch which advanced Altuve to second base. Brantley followed up with a line drive single to left field, plating Altuve for another run. Loaisiga would throw another wild pitch facing Bregman but that one didn’t come back to haunt him.

The Yankees can’t control injuries, the behavior of their fans, or how good the Astros’ pitching is on any given night. They can control the quality of their defense. On Thursday, it was a farce, and now they’re staring down the barrel of having to win three consecutive games against the Astros to stave off elimination.