Blue Jays’ Guerrero has throw break mitt, Mariners win 8th in row

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
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SEATTLE — Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had a throw bust through the webbing of his glove and the Seattle Mariners took advantage for their eighth straight win, beating Toronto 6-5 Sunday on two home runs by Carlos Santana.

“Baseball can be cruel sometimes when things aren’t going right,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said.

A day after Santana hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning for a 2-1 win, he connected for a go-ahead, two-run drive in the eighth. The Mariners are 16-3 for their best 19-game stretch since 2003.

“Everything is positive right now, so we have to keep it up,” Santana said. “The energy is great. The fan support, in the clubhouse, teammates are great. When you see that, everything is great.”

Blue Jays starter Max Castillo was pulled in the fifth with a 4-1 lead after giving up a pair of one-out singles, and reliever David Phelps walked Justin Upton to load the bases.

Sam Haggerty then grounded back to Phelps, who threw home to start what appeared to be an easy inning-ending double play. But catcher Gabriel Moreno‘s throw broke through Guerrero’s first baseman’s mitt, allowing a run to score.

Guerrero kept looking in amazement as his glove while Phelps, who had begun to twirl off the mound in celebration, suddenly stopped. Julio Rodriguez followed with an RBI single that cut Toronto’s lead to 4-3.

This is the second time in a month Guerrero has had trouble with his glove. He had a ball go through the webbing in a win against the Orioles on June 13.

“You know that changed the game,” Montoyo said. “I’ve seen it twice this year. Usually it doesn’t happen to the same guy and it happened to the same guy.”

Bo Bichette had a homer, two singles and drove in three runs for the Blue Jays, who were swept in the four-game series and have lost nine of their last 10.

George Springer homered on the first pitch of the game for the Blue Jays, his 17th home run of the season and his 51st career leadoff homer. Raimel Tapia also homered for Toronto.

Santana, acquired from Kansas City in late June, hit a leadoff homer in the second.

“It’s like he’s been here all year,” Seattle’s Ty France said. “He’s part of the family now and we’re happy to have him here and we’ve been rolling.”

Moreno dropped a popup by J.P. Crawford to begin the Seattle eighth. Santana connected off Adam Cimber (8-3) for his seventh home run this season, three for the Mariners.

The Mariners tied it at 4 on Cal Raleigh‘s sacrifice fly in the sixth. Bitchette homered in the seventh.

Seattle starter Logan Gilbert allowed four runs on nine hits, both matching his season highs, in six innings.

Matt Festa (1-0) pitched a perfect eighth for the win and Paul Sewald picked up his 10th save.

SCOREBOARD WATCH

The series sweep pulled the Mariners into a tie with Toronto for the AL’s third wild-card spot. The Mariners are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2001. ” You can’t celebrate anything. We’re not there,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. But everybody knows the drought. It rains a lot in Seattle, so we’ve got to end the drought.”

ALL-STAR

Rodriguez was named to the All-Star team during the game. France, who was one of the two finalists for the AL first baseman spot, was not among those selected. “There’s a lot of good players, and not to take anything away from any of them, I definitely thought I played my way in there,” France said.

ROTATING SPOTS

On Saturday, the Mariners optioned rookie starter George Kirby to Triple-A Tacoma to reduce his workload. Seattle manager Scott Servais said he expects Kirby to make one start of two or three innings at Tacoma and return to the Mariners’ rotation after the All-Star break. In his place on Wednesday at Washington, Seattle may have a bullpen day or start long reliever Tommy Milone, Servais said. Marco Gonzales will start Thursday in Texas.

UP NEXT

Blue Jays: Toronto has an off day Monday and has not announced a starter for Tuesday’s home game against Philadelphia.

Mariners: RHP Chris Flexen (5-8, 4.00 ERA) will open Seattle’s two-game series at Washington on Tuesday. Flexen has won his last three starts.

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.