Nick Castellanos HR after overturned call, Phillies beat Braves 3-1

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ATLANTA — Talk about taking advantage of an overturned call.

Nick Castellanos hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the eighth after an inning-ending double play was reversed, sending the Philadelphia Phillies to a 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves.

“That’s an example that all the little things are just as important as the big things,” Castellanos said.

After getting blown out 13-1 in the opener of the two-game series between NL East rivals, the Phillies looked to be down to their final three outs when J.T. Realmuto grounded into what was ruled a double play with the Braves nursing a 1-0 lead.

But Philadelphia challenged the call, and the replay showed Realmuto – hustling all the way down the line – getting a foot to the bag just ahead of the relay throw while Rhys Hoskins trotted home from third.

With the game now tied at 1, Collin McHugh (2-2) fell behind 2-0 in the count before grooving one to Castellanos, who launched a 420-foot drive over the center-field wall for his ninth homer of the season.

“J.T. running down the like that gave me an opportunity to get a hit like that,” Castellanos said.

Zack Wheeler (10-5) claimed the win over his hometown team with five-hit ball over seven innings, snapping Atlanta’s four-game winning streak. His only big mistake came in the fifth, when he served up a homer to Orlando Arcia.

“It was one of those games were you just keep grinding away and hope the hitters come around,” Wheeler said. “I have faith in those guys.”

Phillies newcomer David Robertson, acquired in a series of deals ahead of the trade deadline, worked a scoreless ninth for his first Philadelphia save after locking down 14 wins for the Chicago Cubs.

The Braves wasted 6 2/3 scoreless innings by Charlie Morton, who turned in another strong performance by Atlanta’s rotation.

“We’re going against a tough guy over on their side,” Morton said. “Zack threw the ball really well. Going into a game like that, you need to limit them as much as possible.”

Over the last five games, the Braves starters have surrendered just 16 hits and three runs in 33 innings, with seven walks and 40 strikeouts.

But the bullpen let this one get away.

Still, the Braves are leading the NL wild-card race and have their sights set higher as they hit the road for a rare five-game series against the first-place Mets.

New York came into the day 2 1/2 games ahead of the World Series champion Braves, who have won four straight NL East titles.

The Phillies are also in the playoff mix. Before the win, they were tied with St. Louis for the final wild card.

ROBERTSON’S ROLE

While Robertson got the save in his first appearance since the trade, manager Rob Thomson stressed that he’s not the full-time closer.

The Phillies have used a committee approach since Corey Knebel was stripped of the job in mid-June.

That will continue, according to Thomson.

“Robby closed the game, but he’s not labeled the closer,” the manager said. “Everyone will get a feel for pitching in different innings, which is good because you’re not going to have everyone available every night.”

Robertson said he’s fine with the arrangement.

“It is a little different” than his role with the Cubs, he said. “I’ll just have to adjust like I’ve done over the years.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Braves C Travis d'Arnaud was set to start behind the plate, but a stomach bug forced a change of plans. William Contreras got the nod on short rest after playing the night before.

UP NEXT

Phillies: Return home to begin a four-game series Thursday against the Nationals. Newly acquired Noah Syndergaard (5-8, 3.83 ERA with the Los Angeles Angels) will get the nod against a Washington team that no longer has star slugger Juan Soto. OF Brandon Marsh, acquired from the Angels in a separate trade, is also expected to join the Phillies on Thursday.

Braves: RHP Kyle Wright (13-4, 2.93 ERA) will get the nod in Thursday’s series opener against the Mets, while newcomer Jake Odorizzi – acquired in a flurry of trades ahead of the deadline – is scheduled to make his Braves debut with a start in Saturday’s doubleheader. Another deadline addition, RHP Raisel Iglesias, will join the bullpen in New York. RHP Jay Jackson was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the open spot on the pitching staff Wednesday.

 

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.