Astros’ Javier, bullpen combine to no-hit Yanks in 3-0 win

Houston Astros v New York Yankees
Getty Images
0 Comments

NEW YORK – Cristian Javier kept sending the New York Yankees back to their dugout in short order, taming his often inconsistent control and thwarting the team with baseball’s best record, most runs and preeminent power.

“We call him `The Reptile,’ because he doesn’t show any emotion. It doesn’t matter how big the stage,” Houston catcher Martin Maldonado would later say.

The Astros’ cold-blooded starter combined with Hector Neris and Ryan Pressly on the first no-hitter against the Yankees in 19 years, pitching Houston to an improbable 3-0 victory Saturday. It’s the first time New York has been no-hit since six Astros teamed up for one at the old stadium on June 11, 2003.

New York entered 52-19, at .732 the best winning percentage ever for a team held hitless at least 50 games into a season. The previous high was Oakland’s .691 against Texas on June 11, 1990, when the Athletics were felled by Nolan Ryan’s sixth no-hitter.

“The cold, hard truth is we got outpitched and outplayed,” Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole said. “Magical day for them.”

Javier (5-3), a 25-year-old right-hander without a complete game in 84 professional starts, was in the rotation because Jake Odorizzi is hurt. He set career highs for strikeouts (13) and pitches (115) while walking one, and he matched his longest start with seven innings. Javier lowered his ERA to 2.73.

He walked Josh Donaldson on a full-count fastball with two outs in the first, then retired 17 in a row until Donaldson reached when third baseman Alex Bregman threw past first for an error on a one-out grounder in the seventh. Stanton took a called third strike and Gleyber Torres struck out swinging.

By the sixth, the Astros adopted the superstitious dugout custom for a no-hit bid.

“The guys didn’t come near me, and I didn’t go near them,” Javier said through a translator.

Javier began the seventh at 91 pitches. Astros manager Dusty Baker turned to pitching coach Bill Murphy early in the inning.

“Man, I got to make a decision here pretty soon between the personal and maybe him suffering for it,” Baker recalled. “How many does he have left?”

“Well, about 15 pitches,” Baker recalled Murphy saying.

Javier needed 24 in the inning, starting his last five batters with a ball after getting ahead with a strike to 12 of his first 18.

Baker gave Javier a hug when he was done.

“In the bullpen today before the game, pitches were doing what I wanted,” Javier said.

Neris walked two in the eighth, retired Joey Gallo on a flyout to the right-field warning track and got Aaron Judge to ground into an inning-ending forceout.

Pressly struck out Anthony Rizzo and Donaldson in the ninth, then retired Giancarlo Stanton on a game-ending groundout to third that sparked groans in the crowd of 45,076 on the sunny summer afternoon. It was his first outing since giving up a tying three-run homer to Aaron Hicks in a 7-6 loss Thursday night,

“I was pretty upset with myself and felt like I let the team down,” said Pressly, who got his 15th save in 18 chances.

Houston players gathered near the mound for a brief celebration. Justin Verlander presented Javier with the ball from the final out.

In a matchup of the teams with the top two records in the American League, Houston got the first hit in the fifth, and rookie J.J. Matijevic put the Astros ahead in the seventh with second big league homer, driving a fastball from Cole (6-2) into the right-field second deck.

Jose Altuve homered into the left-field second deck in the eighth against Michael King, and pinch-hitter Yuli Gurriel added an RBI single off Lucas Luetge in the ninth.

“Yankee Stadium, day game. These are moments that you live for,” Matijevic said after his first career bat flip. He has two hits, both homers.

Maldonado had guided four Astros pitchers through a no-hitter against Seattle on Aug. 3, 2019. This was even more special.

“My dad was here,” he said. “Those are memories, they’re going to last through all my life.”

This was the third no-hitter of the season: five Mets combined against Philadelphia on April 29 and the Los Angeles Angels’ Reid Detmers pitched one against Tampa Bay on May 10.

New York, which lost consecutive games for the first time since May 28-29 against Tampa Bay, struck out 15 times and got its only runners on three walks and an error. The Yankees were no-hit for just the eighth time, and they haven’t been dominated in that manner by a franchise other than Houston since 1958.

The Astros pitched their 14th no-hitter, the first since Verlander against Toronto on Sept. 1, 2019.

“We’ll just see how we answer in the next few days,” Yankees catcher Jose Trevino said. “There’s no certainties in baseball.”

PITCH COUNT

Houston’s 150 pitches were one fewer than in the 2003 no-hitter and nine less than the Mets needed in April.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP Lance McCullers Jr. threw about 25 pitches to Jeremy Pena and Chas McCormick in his first batting practice. McCullers has been sidelined since spring training with a strained right forearm. … Odorizzi (lower left leg discomfort) threw 59 pitches over three innings for Triple-A Sugar Land on Friday night, allowing two runs, two hits and two walks. … Pena (left thumb) could be activated Sunday.

Yankees: After throwing an eight-pitch inning for Double-A Somerset on Friday in his first game action since May 22, LHP Aroldis Chapman (left Achilles tendinitis) expects to pitch again Sunday and then come off the IL. … RHP Jonathan Loaisiga, sidelined since May 22 by right shoulder inflammation, threw his first bullpen since getting hurt. He will need another bullpen and then batting practice before he goes on a rehab assignment, Boone said. … Domingo German (right shoulder impingement) is to make his second minor league rehab start on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

LHP Nestor Cortes (6-3, 2.31) starts Sunday’s series final for the Yankees and RHP Jose Urquidy (6-3, 4.68) for the Astros.

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.