Rodriguez’s HR, Raleigh’s 4 RBIs carry M’s past Padres 8-2

Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO — Julio Rodriguez sent a drive almost to the top of the brick warehouse in the left-field corner and pointed to the relievers in the bullpen who were also watching his monster two-run homer sail out of Petco Park.

“I thought it would be pretty cool to hit one up there but I wasn’t really like thinking about hitting it out there,” Rodriguez said after the Seattle Mariners beat the listless San Diego Padres 8-2 Monday.

The prized rookie said he was pointing to the bullpen “picking up the guys. They were looking that way from over there, so I was pointing at them. I just see it and hit it, I guess. That’s what I try to do every time I’m at the plate.”

Cal Raleigh drove in four runs – including a bases-clearing double – and Chris Flexen helped pitch the Mariners to their third straight win and sixth in seven games. The Padres gave their home fans little to cheer about on the holiday afternoon as they lost for the eighth time in 11 games.

The Mariners and Padres share a spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona, and have been deemed natural rivals by MLB for scheduling purposes.

Rodriguez drove a 2-0 pitch from left-hander Sean Manaea (3-4) onto the balcony of the fourth floor of the Western Metal Supply Co. warehouse with one out in the fourth inning to give the Mariners a 4-0 lead. It was his 15th homer this season and 12th in his last 40 games. Dylan Moore was aboard on a leadoff single.

Rodriguez became the first player in big league history with 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases in his first 81 games.

Asked if he could double those numbers, he said: “I’m honestly not setting a limit on that. I’m just playing ball every day. Taking care of one day at a time and whatever results come out at the end of the season, I’m going to take. But I’m just going to keep on going.”

Said manager Scott Servais: “Julio, what else do you need to say? Hits the ball almost over the warehouse here. … Big, big hits today, good offensive day against a really good ballclub.

“We haven’t had that complete of a game since the beginning of our last homestand,” Servais added. “Offense was huge early in the game, getting on Manaea early. Flex doing what he does, eight strikeouts today, really in control the entire time out there and had all his pitches working against a real good team.”

Flexen (5-8) and three relievers combined to shut down the Padres, who have scored only 10 runs in their last five games. They needed a ninth-inning rally to beat the NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers 4-2 Sunday and avoid a four-game sweep.

San Diego didn’t score Monday until Trent Grisham hit a two-run homer with one out in the ninth.

Manaea followed Rodriguez’s homer by loading the bases and was replaced by Tayler Scott, who proceeded to retire five straight Mariners batters, including striking out the side in the fifth, before running into trouble in the sixth.

Rodriguez opened the inning by reaching on third baseman Manny Machado‘s throwing error. J.P. Crawford singled and Carlos Santana walked for the third time to load the bases. Raleigh then doubled to the gap in right-center to clear the bases and make it 7-0.

Flexen didn’t allow a baserunner until he walked Machado with one out in the fourth. He was pulled after walking Kim Ha-seong with two outs in the seventh to put runners on first and third. Erik Swanson came on and walked Grisham to load the bases before getting Jurickson Profar to fly out.

Flexen held San Diego to four hits in 6 2/3 innings, struck out eight and walked three.

The Mariners jumped on Manaea for two runs on three hits and a walk in the first. Raleigh drove in the first run with a grounder and Abraham Toro hit an RBI double.

Manaea allowed four runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked four and struck out three.

SUSPENSIONS

Mariners OF Jesse Winker began serving a six-game suspension for his part in a brawl with the Angels on June 26. His original penalty was seven games. Crawford returned to the lineup after serving a four-game suspension.

UP NEXT

Mariners RHP Logan Gilbert (9-3, 2.26 ERA) and Padres RHP Mike Clevinger (2-0, 2.79) are scheduled to start Tuesday afternoon in the finale of the two-game series.

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.