Orioles beat Rays 5-1 thanks to 4-run 5th inning

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BALTIMORE — The bullpen has been perhaps the biggest part of Baltimore’s climb this season.

When manager Brandon Hyde lifted starter Austin Voth after three innings against Tampa Bay, those relievers went to work.

“Tonight, they were so good,” Hyde said. “They put six zeros up. It’s absolutely outstanding.”

Ryan Mountcastle hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in a four-run fifth that sent the Orioles to a 5-1 victory over the Rays. Voth and five Baltimore relievers kept Tampa Bay’s offense from delivering the big hit. The Rays left 10 men on base, including six in the first three innings.

“Early on, we got some guys on base, and when you do that, you’ve got to find ways to make contact, get the ball to the outfield, score some runs,” manager Kevin Cash said. “We did not, and then their bullpen kind of got on a run where there wasn’t many opportunities after the first couple innings.”

Brandon Lowe homered leading off the third for Tampa Bay, but Corey Kluber (6-6) allowed four earned runs in five innings. Nick Vespi (3-0) struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of relief to earn the win. Vespi was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk before the game.

“That was awesome,” Hyde said. “Just gets here today, bridges the gap to some back-end bullpen guys there.”

Ryan McKenna led off the Baltimore fifth with a single, and Cedric Mullins added a bunt single one out later. Adley Rutschman was hit by a pitch, loading the bases, and Mountcastle’s hit put the Orioles up 3-1.

Anthony Santander followed with a grounder to first, and Ji-Man Choi‘s throw to second hit Mountcastle. A run came home on that play, and Austin Hays made it 5-1 with a sacrifice fly.

Voth pitched around leadoff walks in the first and second. The Rays had the bases loaded with one out in the second, but Voth was able to throw home for a force on a comebacker by Brett Phillips, and Yandy Diaz hit a flyball to end the threat.

“I felt like I battled today,” Voth said. “Just didn’t have my best stuff. I was behind in a lot of counts. That’s kind of what really hurt me, but definitely found a way to get out of some of those innings.”

Rutschman, the Baltimore rookie catcher, was taken down by a sliding Luke Raley on the force play at the plate. That drew the ire of the crowd, but Hyde said afterward he thought it was a clean play by the Tampa Bay runner.

The Orioles loaded the bases in the second with nobody out. Rougned Odor hit a sacrifice fly, but the next two batters were retired on foul pops.

Voth allowed a run and four hits.

WINNING MONTH

The Orioles are 13-6 in July, assuring them a second consecutive winning month. Prior to this June, when they went 14-12, they hadn’t had a winning month since August 2017.

SNAPPED

Choi was charged with an error on his poor throw in the fifth, snapping a 10-game errorless streak for the Rays. That tied a club record last reached in 2011.

“I’m not assuming that we’re going to get a double play, but an out would have been really beneficial in that situation,” Cash said.

TURNAROUND

Tampa Bay went 18-1 against the Orioles in 2021, but Baltimore has won six of 13 meetings this year.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rays: Tampa Bay has ruled OF Kevin Kiermaier (left hip) and C Mike Zunino (left shoulder) out for the season.

Orioles: SS Jonathan Arauz jammed a finger sliding into second in the eighth. … 1B Trey Mancini, the subject of trade speculation, was given the night off. He’s in an 0-for-22 slump.

UP NEXT

Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan (10-3) makes his first appearance since starting the All-Star Game last week. He faces Baltimore’s Spenser Watkins (3-1) on Tuesday night.

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.