Tony Kemp homers, hits 2-run 2B as A’s beat streaking Astros

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
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OAKLAND, Calif. – Adam Oller sat at his locker a nervous wreck as he watched the stressful final few outs on a corner clubhouse TV, elbows on knees and knees bouncing into the air.

Lou Trivino eventually finished it, and Oller finally had his first major league win, more than four months in the making.

“I’m glad it’s over,” the 27-year-old said of the weight off his shoulders, the sheer relief, special game ball ready to be sent to mom.

Tony Kemp homered and hit a two-run double, Skye Bolt added a two-run shot, and the Oakland Athletics held off the red-hot Houston Astros 7-5 on Monday night then celebrated Oller afterward with a beer shower.

Oller (1-3) struck out four over five innings, allowing four runs – three earned – on four hits and earned the victory in his sixth start and fourth stint of the year with Oakland that included some relief appearances.

He arrived in the trade in March that sent ace Chris Bassitt to the Mets. During one return to Triple-A Las Vegas, Oller was told to only throw fastballs until he rediscovered his rhythm.

“It’s unreal,” said Oller, who was born just outside Houston and still lives in the area. “It only took four months but we got it.

“It goes back to all the stuff in between, all the ups and downs in the minor leagues, all the long hours in the offseason working to finally get to this point. It goes to trusting your stuff. That’s kind of been something I’ve dealt with in the past, not being as confident in myself, thinking I don’t deserve to be there.”

Elvis Andrus added an insurance RBI single in the eighth for Oakland before closer Trivino surrendered a solo homer to Chas McCormick, then finished for his ninth save by striking out Jeremy Pena with runners on first and second.

AL West-leading Houston took its first defeat after a 5-0 start since the All-Star break. The Astros are an AL-best 28-10 dating to June 12 and are now 32-17 against the AL West.

“The bottom of their order, 7 and 8, Bolt and Kemp, they beat us by themselves tonight,” manager Dusty Baker said. “We’ve certainly got to do do better against them.”

Pena homered in the first for Houston before Kemp’s tying drive leading off the third against right-hander Jake Odorizzi (4-3), who had been 4-0 over his previous seven starts but dealt with a blister this time that bothered him.

Yordan Alvarez came home on a double-steal in the sixth and Pena doubled and scored on pitcher Domingo Acevedo‘s throwing error on a pickoff attempt as Houston pulled within 6-4.

Oakland’s Chad Pinder made his third career start at first base and first since 2019.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: LF Michael Brantley, sidelined since June 27 with right shoulder discomfort, continues baseball activity but it’s unclear when he will begin swinging again. … All-Star DH Alvarez returned to the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s series finale with a sore right hand. Baker hopes to get him in the outfield again soon.

Athletics: RHP Dany Jimenez, who went on the 15-day injured list June 21 with a strained pitching shoulder, will throw about 20 pitches in live batting practice Tuesday. … INF Jonah Bride came off the 10-day injured list and 1B/OF Seth Brown was placed on the paternity list. … Oakland also recalled LHP Sam Selman from Triple-A Las Vegas and optioned RHP David McKay to Las Vegas.

DRAFT PICKS

A’s second-round draft pick Henry Bolte was in uniform and took batting practice a day before reporting to Arizona to begin his minor league career. Manager Mark Kotsay likes his swagger already at just 18.

“As a big A’s guy, Rickey Henderson was stealing bases all the time. I might not be as fast as him, he’s a little special, but playing that type of way, I’m going to run out a hard 90 (feet), I’m going to steal bags,” Bolte said. “Most of the time I’m going back in the locker room with a dirty jersey, that’s how I like to play.”

UP NEXT

Astros RHP Luis Garcia (8-5, 3.65 ERA) looks to win his sixth straight decision in the middle game of the series Tuesday.

A’s RHP Frankie Montas (3-9, 3.16) makes what could be his final start in an Oakland uniform ahead of the Aug. 2 trade deadline. Montas should be at full strength after being limited to three innings in his previous start, which came after he missed two outings with inflammation in his pitching shoulder.

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.