Woodruff fans 10 in return from IL, Brewers beat Rays 5-3

Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Brandon Woodruff struck out 10 over five innings in his return from the injured list, Andrew McCutchen and Luis Urias homered during a four-run sixth, and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Tuesday night.

Woodruff, who hurt his right ankle on May 27 at St. Louis, allowed one run and two hits. While on the 15-day injured list, Raynaud’s syndrome affected his pitching fingers.

“He pitched wonderfully,” Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell said. “The fastball was very, very good. Overpowering for most of the game. It was fun to watch, it really was.”

The right-hander’s average four-seam fastball was 97.7 mph, which tied with a start on July 21, 2019 at Arizona for his fastest in any outing.

Woodruff had no issues with his fingers.

“That’s a good, positive sign,” Woodruff said. “I’ll just keep monitoring it, But as far as today, if it goes like it does today for the rest of the year I’ll be happy with that.”

Woodruff (6-3) was perfect through three innings with seven strikeouts. He made his major league debut on Aug. 4, 2017 at Tropicana Field against the Rays and went 6 1/3 innings in a 2-0 win.

Matt Wisler (2-2) replaced Tampa Bay starter Shane Baz with one on and two outs in the sixth, and it took eight pitches for the Brewers to turn a one-run deficit into to a 4-1 lead. McCutchen connected on Wisler’s second offering for a two-run shot, and after Kolten Wong doubled, Urias hit another two-run drive.

“Wis has been so good for us,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “It kind of came together really fast. They handled the breaking ball, got it up in the air and hit a couple big home runs.”

Wisler was coming off a stretch of 11 scoreless outings in 12 games.

Urias added an RBI double in the eighth.

Josh Hader struck out the side in the ninth for his 23rd save in 24 chances.

Baz gave up one run, three hits and two walks along with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings.

Jason Alexander entered in the eighth and walked his first two batters: Brett Phillips, who’s in a 4-for-51 slide, and Yandy Diaz. After a passed ball, Wander Franco had a sacrifice fly and Harold Ramirez hit a run-scoring grounder to get the Rays within 5-3.

Devin Williams replaced Alexander, who was hit in the leg by Randy Arozarena‘s two-out base hit. After walking Isaac Paredes, Williams got a fielder’s choice from Josh Lowe.

Alexander was OK after the game.

Diaz doubled on a nine-pitch at-bat leading off the fourth and scored to make it 1-0 on Arozarena’s two-out single.

Tampa Bay extended its team-record stretch to 13 consecutive games decided by two or fewer runs. It’s the longest stretch in the major’s since the New York Yankees had 16 in a row from July 20-Aug, 5, 2014.

DEFENSIVE GEM

Woodruff came off the mound on the third-base side to field Arozarena’s hopper in the second and first baseman Rowdy Tellez scooped the pitcher’s throw from the dirt to complete the out.

WELCOME BACK

There was a video tribute after the second inning for Brewers infielders Willy Adames and Mike Brosseau, who returned to Tropicana Field. The pair were on the Rays’ 2020 AL pennant-winning team.

Adames received a nice ovation before his first-inning at-bat and tipped his batting helmet toward the stands.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: Wong (right calf) returned after missing 15 games. … Left-hander Aaron Ashby (left forearm) could be back later this week. … Right fielder Jace Peterson stayed in the game after an awkward slide on a bullpen mound trying to catch Paredes’ seventh-inning foul ball.

Rays: First baseman Ji-Man Choi (left ankle) didn’t play.

UP NEXT

Milwaukee lefty Eric Lauer (6-3) starts the finale of the two-game series on Wednesday. He has allowed eight homers over his last three starts. The Rays will have a bullpen day with left-hander Jalen Beeks (1-1) as the opener.

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.