Darick Hall homers, drives in 2, Phillies take series from Nats

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PHILADELPHIA — Darick Hall homered, doubled and drove in two runs, and the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Washington Nationals 5-3.

Didi Gregorius added an RBI triple for Philadelphia, which took two of three from last-place Washington and improved to 6-2 against its NL East rival. The Phillies entered third in the division, eight games behind the Mets.

“We’re playing well and getting a lot of contributions from a lot of people and that’s big,” interim manager Rob Thomson said.

Hall extended Philadelphia’s advantage to 5-2 with two outs in the seventh with a drive off the right-field foul pole. It was Hall’s fourth homer in eight games since being called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley to take over for injured star Bryce Harper (broken left thumb) as the club’s designated hitter batting in the cleanup spot.

“He’s really swinging the bat well,” Thomson said. “Darick’s been kind of a spark for us. He’s a pretty calm guy and has a lot of poise.”

Hall is hitting .290 with seven RBIs.

“He’s just out there playing baseball like he’s on a sandlot,” Thomson said.

Luis Garcia had a pair of doubles and an RBI before leaving the game in the seventh inning with a stomach issue, and Juan Soto had two hits and drove in a run for the Nationals. Washington has lost seven of eight.

“We had our chances early to blow the game open,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We couldn’t do it. All of the sudden we started chasing when the bullpen came in.”

The Nationals kept Kyle Schwarber in the ballpark one day after the NL home run leader went deep twice against his former team. Schwarber finished 0-for-3 with a walk and an RBI groundout in the fourth inning that put Philadelphia ahead 4-2.

Nick Nelson (3-1) gave up one hit in two scoreless innings in relief of starter Bailey Falter. Seranthony Dominguez finished off another strong performance by the Phillies’ bullpen, working a perfect ninth for his third save in four chances.

The Phillies went ahead with three runs in the third off Joan Adon (1-12).

Hall’s double off the wall scored Rhys Hoskins from first and moved Nick Castellanos to third. Castellanos scored on J.T. Realmuto‘s sacrifice fly to left, and Hall scored on Didi Gregorius’ triple off the wall in right field that was misjudged by right fielder Soto. Soto camped under the ball at the warning track, but he didn’t reach out far enough to make the catch. Martinez said Soto got his glove caught on a chain link in the fence.

Adon’s struggles continued, as the 23-year-old right-hander gave up four runs on six hits in four innings with three strikeouts and three walks to raise his ERA to 7.10 in 14 starts.

“He’s got great stuff,” Martinez said. “We just have to continue to work with him on his command.”

Martinez said the starter for Adon’s next scheduled turn in the rotation is to be determined.

The Nationals took a 2-0 lead off Falter on Maikel Franco‘s first-inning RBI single and Soto’s RBI single to right in the second.

Falter, filling in for injured right-hander Zach Eflin (right knee bruise), gave up those two runs on six hits in four innings.

SOTO STREAK

Soto extended his hitting streak to 10 games and his on-base streak to 17.

SLUMPING CASTELLANOS

Castellanos has struggled in his first season with the Phillies. Castellanos batted .309 with 34 homers, 100 RBIs and a .939 OPS last year for Cincinnati before signing a $100 million, five-year contract with Philadelphia. He is hitting .251 with eight homers and 44 RBIs after going 1 for 4 with a strikeout on Thursday.

Thomson said he has not considered dropping Castellanos in the lineup. Castellanos batted third on Thursday.

“I haven’t really thought about it because I think he’s going to come out of it at any moment,” Thomson said. “When he does, he’ll be in the right spot.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Nationals: Placed RHP Reed Garrett on the 15-day injured list with right biceps inflammation. Garrett has a 8.22 ERA in six games. … Martinez said Garcia’s stomach problem was similar to that of Nelson Cruz, who was sidelined on Tuesday and Wednesday with a stomach virus. Cruz returned on Thursday and went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts as the DH.

UP NEXT

Nationals: Begin a three-game series at Atlanta on Friday night when RHP Erick Fedde (5-5, 4.29 ERA) opposes Braves RHP Charlie Morton (4-3, 4.34).

Phillies: RHP Zack Wheeler (7-4, 2.66) opposes Cardinals RHP Adam Wainwright (6-6, 3.26) in St. Louis on Friday night for the start of a four-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.