Dodgers hit 3 homers, knock off nemesis Rockies 8-4

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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DENVER — Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and Cody Bellinger homered, and the Los Angeles Dodgers took advantage of German Marquez‘s struggles and early injury exit to beat the Colorado Rockies 8-4 on Wednesday night.

Trea Turner added a two-run double and Julio Urias pitched into the sixth inning as the Dodgers avoided a three-game sweep against their surprising nemesis. The last-place Rockies had been 4-1 against the NL West leaders.

Marquez (4-6) left with a cut on his thumb with one out in the fourth after allowing five runs and five hits, including Freeman’s 446-foot solo drive to center in the first that extended his hitting streak to 13 games.

It ended an emotional trip for Freeman, who made a tear-filled return to Atlanta, where he played for 12 years.

“Him getting through it and then finishing up this series really well is pretty remarkable,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “I guess he just has a unique way of compartmentalizing emotions with performance.”

Rockies manager Bud Black said Marquez was in pain every time he threw a fastball, but doesn’t think the injury will keep him out for an extended period.

“I think he did it in his bullpen (session) a couple days ago,” Black said.

The Dodgers pounced on Colorado’s bullpen. Smith hit his 12th homer, a two-run shot off Jhoulys Chacin in the fifth, to make it 7-1.

Bellinger belted his 10th homer to right through a hard rain with thunder and lighting in the sky in the eighth after the pubic address announcer asked fans to go to the concourse. The game was never stopped, except to work on drying the mound between innings.

Brendan Rodgers hit a solo homer in the eighth, an RBI double in the fourth and an RBI single in the sixth. Kris Bryant had two singles in his third game back from injury for the Rockies, who had won seven straight against NL West teams.

Urias (6-6) was sharp through five innings before getting into a jam. He was replaced with one out and was charged with three runs and six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. It was the first time in five starts he allowed more than two earned runs.

“Just watching a lot of video from last year,” Urias said through an interpreter of the reason for his recent success. “I felt like last year I had a really good year and was able to make those adjustments with the command of the strike zone.”

The Dodgers had 11 hits to finish a 6-3 trip after managing four runs in the first two games at Coors Field.

“We talked about getting on the heater early in counts,” Freeman said. “That’s what we tried to establish.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Dodgers: Roberts said he’s “very optimistic” OF Mookie Betts (rib) will return before the All-Star break. Betts is swinging the bat without difficulty, but still has pain when he throws. “I’m pretty certain when he does join us again it’s going to be by way of DH,” Roberts said.

Rockies: RHP Ryan Feltner, who was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday, remains with the team and threw a side session before the game. The team has not announced any additional pitching injuries.

THE FREDDIE SAGA

Freeman declined comment on radio host Doug Gottlieb’s tweet Wednesday that Freeman fired agent Casey Close because he didn’t tell him about the Braves’ final contract offer in March.

“Doug Gottlieb tweeted a wholly inaccurate characterization of our negotiations with the Atlanta Braves on behalf of Freddie Freeman. We are immediately evaluating all legal options to address the reckless publication of inaccurate information,” Excel Sports Management said in a statement on behalf of Close.

LAMB’S FIRST START

Nine-year veteran Jake Lamb acknowledged that it was a “possibility” he would have opted out of his minor league deal with the Dodgers soon and become a free agent. But Lamb was called up Tuesday and made his first start on Wednesday in left field, reaching base in both plate appearances with a single and walk before being replaced with a pinch hitter in the sixth.

Lamb hasn’t been able to duplicate his 2017 All-Star season in Arizona and has played for four teams since 2020.

“I needed to go to Triple-A just to get at-bats,” Lamb said. “For me, it really helped slow the game back down.”

STANLEY CUP

The crowd roared before the game as Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog lugged in the Stanley Cup from left field and hoisted it above his head. Landeskog later threw out the first pitch to Rockies left-hander and Avs fanatic Kyle Freeland.

The championship parade is Thursday in downtown Denver.

UP NEXT

Dodgers: RHP Mitch White (1-1, 4.25 ERA) starts Thursday night at home against San Diego RHP Joe Musgrove (8-1, 2.12) in the first of four games between the top teams in the NL West.

Rockies: After a day off, RHP Antonio Senzatela (3-4, 4.66) faces Arizona RHP Merrill Kelly (6-5, 3.64) on Friday night at Coors Field.

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.