Mikolas, Pujols lead Cardinals over Phillies 6-1

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. LOUIS – Miles Mikolas pitched effectively into the eighth inning, Albert Pujols passed Stan Musial on the career extra-base hits list, and Corey Dickerson and Lars Nootbaar homered as the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Philadelphia Phillies 6-1 Monday night.

The teams split the four-game series and are tied for the final wild-card spot in the National League. The Cardinals have won two straight but are just 3-6 in their last nine games.

Philadelphia lost consecutive games for the third time since the start of June.

Mikolas (6-7) gave up six hits, including a first-inning home run to Rhys Hoskins, struck out five and walked none in 7 1/3 innings.

“I thought I had good command of the curveball and fastball early,” Mikolas said. “I kind of used those two pitches off of each other to keep them off balance.”

Mikolas has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his past seven starts.

Aaron Nola (6-6) cruised until the bottom of the Cardinals order touched him for three runs in the fifth. Nola went seven innings, allowing five runs on seven hits. He struck out seven and walked none.

“That’s a good team over there,” Nola said. “We played them good the first two days, we came out with two wins which is good. But we’ve got a lot of baseball left.”

Pujols doubled off the right field wall to lead off the seventh, just missing a home run, to take sole possession of third place with 1,378 extra base hits. He snapped a tie with Musial, passing the Cardinals great to join a top three including Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds.

“It’s really special,” Pujols said. “Doing it here in front of our fans is even better. I don’t have any words to describe my feelings, especially the respect I have for Stan and his whole family and his legacy he left behind through this organization and to myself.”

Pujols revealed after the game that he’ll participate in the All-Star Home Run Derby this month, his fifth time in the event.

Dickerson followed with his third home run of the season, a 395-foot shot into the Cardinals bullpen.

Nootbaar also connected for his third on the first pitch from reliever Michael Kelly in the eighth. Nootbaar, who came in as a defensive substitution in the top of the inning, placed his shot over the left field wall to give the Cardinals a 6-1 lead.

Dylan Carlson singled to start the fourth and reached second on a fielder’s choice. With one out, Dickerson singled in Carlson and took second on the throw home. Dickerson came in on Edmundo Sosa‘s double down the left-field line, and Sosa scored on Andrew Knizner‘s blooper down the right field line.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Phillies: IF Alec Bohm exited with a dislocated left ring finger in the second inning after sliding headfirst into second base attempting to stretch a single into a double. He immediately began to favor his left hand and appeared to say “it’s broken” to someone on the field.

“X-Rays were negative,” interim manager Rob Thomson said after the game. “They popped it back out and he’ll play to tolerance, but we don’t know what the move is yet.”

MOVES

Cardinals: LHP T.J. McFarland was activated from the COVID-19 injured list Monday. Also, St. Louis transferred RHP Jack Flaherty to the 60-day IL and optioned LHP Zack Thompson to Triple-A Memphis.

UP NEXT

Phillies: Will be without J.T. Realmuto, Kyle Gibson, Bohm, and Nola during a two-game series in Toronto beginning Tuesday due to Canadian restrictions on unvaccinated travelers. Neither team has named a starter for the opener. The Blue Jays said over the weekend they hoped RHP Kevin Gausman (6-6, 2.86) is back from a bone bruise in his ankle to take the mound.

Cardinals: LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 4.74) opens a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers and starter RHP Mitch White (1-1, 3.38). Liberatore is 2-0 and has yet to give up an earned run at home in 10 innings over two games.

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.