Guerrero’s run-scoring hit in 9th leads Toronto over Boston

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit a game-winning single in the ninth inning and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied to beat the Boston Red Sox 6-5 on Tuesday night.

Pinch hitter Alejandro Kirk singled to begin the ninth against Tyler Danish (2-1) and George Springer walked. Hansel Robles came on to face Bo Bichette, who drove in pinch runner Bradley Zimmer with a single through the right side. Guerrero followed with an RBI single, driving in Springer with the winning run as the crowd of 27,140 celebrated.

Speaking through a translator, Guerrero said he told manager Charlie Montoyo before his at-bat that he intended to finish the game.

“Charlie sometimes gets kind of nervous, but he told me `Well, I trust you guys. If you say so, OK, that’s fine.”‘ Guerrero said of his game-ending plan.

Guerrero also predicted his game-winning hit when he beat Baltimore with a 10th inning single on June 15, the first such hit of his career.

“A lot of emotions,” Guerrero said of his latest winner. “Boston, they were ahead of us in the division and you’re trying to win those games, win the series, trying to go ahead in the division. I was just fired up.”

Toronto (42-32) moved into second place, a half-game ahead of Boston (42-33) in the AL East.

Jordan Romano (2-2) pitched one inning for the win as Toronto improved to 7-2 against the Red Sox.

The blown save was Robles’ fifth.

Boston closer Tanner Houck, who has six saves, isn’t with the team in Toronto because he isn’t vaccinated for COVID-19.

Red Sox manager Alex Cora bristled when asked how Houck’s absence had impacted his bullpen management.

“We go with the 26 that are here,” Cora said. “We tried to get 27 outs and we didn’t do it.”

Boston lost back-to-back games for the first time since falling to Baltimore on May 30 and Cincinnati on May 31.

Rob Refsnyder hit a game-tying two-run home run in the seventh and Christian Vazquez singled home the go-ahead run in the eighth, but Boston’s bullpen failed to hold the lead.

“After a game like that, fighting back from a deficit, down early, that one hurts,” Danish said. “This one goes on me.”

The Blue Jays jumped on Red Sox right-hander Michael Wacha with a three-run first inning. Teoscar Hernandez hit an RBI double and Matt Chapman added a two-run double with two outs.

Story hit a solo home run off Blue Jays right-hander Ross Stripling in the second, but Santiago Espinal restored the three-run lead with a two-out RBI single in the third.

Refsnyder cut it to 4-2 with an RBI groundout in the fifth, then tied it with a two-out drive to center off Trent Thornton in the seventh. The home run was Refsnyder’s second.

Wacha allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, just the second time in 13 starts he has allowed four or more runs. He walked three and struck out two.

Stripling allowed two runs and five hits in five innings. He posted a 1.59 ERA in five June appearances, four of them starts.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Blue Jays: RHP Nate Pearson will be shut down for three to four weeks because of a strained muscle in his right side. Pearson was injured during a rehab appearance at Triple-A Buffalo.

ROSTER MOVES

Red Sox: Boston selected RHP Silvino Bracho from Triple-A Worcester and optioned RHP Connor Seabold to Triple-A. During this road trip, Seabold will remain with the team as a taxi squad player, and could start again Sunday against the Cubs.

Blue Jays: RHP Sergio Romo threw in the bullpen before the game, but was not added to the roster. The veteran reliever is joining the Blue Jays after being cut by Seattle June 20.

GREAT GRAB!

Blue Jays CF Raimel Tapia made a diving catch to deny Alex Verdugo in the second.

‘It was incredible,” Stripling said. “I gave a pretty good little fist bump, which is not normal for me. I’m usually pretty even-keeled. I think I gave it like a big old Tiger Woods thing. That was awesome.”

POWER TRIO

Toronto has won three series against Boston in the same season for the first time since 2016.

UP NEXT

Red Sox RHP Nick Pivetta (8-5, 3.25) starts Wednesday’s series finale against Blue Jays RHP Alek Manoah (9-2, 2.05). Manoah is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in three career starts against Boston.

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.