Astros beat Yanks again, Bregman’s 2-run double keys 2-1 win

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
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HOUSTON — Alex Bregman hit a two-run double early and the Houston Astros held on for a 2-1 win over the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Thursday’s game completes a stretch for the Astros of nine straight games against New York teams. Houston went 3-2 against the major league-leading Yankees and swept four games with the Mets, who had baseball’s second best record before being overtaken by the Astros.

The Yankees were in town for just one game to make up part of a series that was scrapped because of the lockout. They’ll complete the series with a doubleheader here July 21.

Houston starter Luis Garcia (6-5) allowed three hits and one run with six strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings for his third straight win. Ryan Pressly struck out two in a scoreless ninth for his 17th save.

Jake Meyers doubled with no outs in the third before Aledmys Diaz walked with two outs. Kyle Tucker walked to load the bases before Bregman’s double to put Houston up 2-0.

The Astros had a chance to pad the lead, but the inning ended on an odd play after a malfunction of New York starter Luis Severino‘s PitchCom device.

With Yuli Gurriel at-bat, a frustrated Severino took off his cap and held the PitchCom speaker to his ear, apparently unable to hear instructions from catcher Jose Trevino.

Tucker saw Severino was distracted from third base and tried to sneak home. Severino had the PitchCom earpiece in his right hand and had to quickly maneuver to get the baseball back in his throwing hand. He threw home while still holding his cap, and his throw narrowly beat Tucker and ended the inning.

The PitchCom digital pitch-calling devices, which transmit signals from the catcher to the pitcher, were introduced to the majors this season. The system was designed to halt sign stealing in the wake of the Astros’ 2017 scandal.

Anthony Rizzo hit a solo homer for the Yankees in the sixth inning, but they had trouble generating much else on offense as they had a four-game winning streak snapped.

The Yankees were held to one run or fewer in all three losses to Houston over the past week, including Saturday’s combined no-hitter by Cristian Javier, Hector Neris and Pressly.

Severino (4-3) yielded three hits and two runs in six innings.

The Astros were without slugger Yordan Alvarez and shortstop Jeremy Pena after the two were involved in a nasty outfield collision Wednesday in a win over the Mets. Manager Dusty Baker said both were continuing testing for concussions, and he wasn’t sure how long they’d be sidelined.

Garcia had retired seven of the last eight batters he’d faced with three consecutive strikeouts when Rizzo knocked his 21st home run into right field to cut the lead to 2-1 and chase Garcia with one out in the sixth. Ryne Stanek took over, and Giancarlo Stanton greeted him with a single before Gleyber Torres walked with two outs in the inning.

Stanek retired Jose Trevino for the third out to extend his streak of consecutive scoreless innings to 20.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: LHP Aroldis Chapman (left Achilles tendinitis) will be activated from the injured list Friday. Manager Aaron Boone said that Chapman, who hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 22, could be used several ways, not just as the closer. “We’ll pick spots and try to get him in spots where he can be successful,” Boone said. “That could be anywhere from a high-leverage situation to a mid-leverage to a low-leverage.”

Astros: Bench coach Joe Espada, first base coach Omar Lopez and quality control coach Dan Firova all missed Thursday’s game because of health and safety protocols. Wladimir Sutil, who is Triple-A Sugar Land’s development coach, joined the team to coach first base.

UP NEXT

Yankees: New York’s Gerrit Cole (6-2, 2.99 ERA) faces Cleveland’s Aaron Civale (2-4, 7.20) in the opener of a three-game series between the Yankees and Guardians on Friday night.

Astros: Javier (5-3, 2.73) opposes Los Angeles RHP Michael Lorenzen (6-5, 4.24) when the Astros and Angels open a three-game series Friday night. It’s the first start for Javier since striking out a career-high 13 in seven innings of the combined no-hitter.

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.