Pirates rally by scuffling Brewers once again in 5-4 victory

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PITTSBURGH — The Milwaukee Brewers insist they’re not suffering from sort of a Josh Hader hangover.

Sure looks like it though.

Bryan Reynolds raced home on a wild pitch with one out in the 10th inning, lifting the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 5-4 victory to complete a three-game sweep of Milwaukee.

Reynolds led off the bottom of the 10th by tying the game with a ground-rule double to right field that scored rookie Tucupita Maracano. Reynolds advanced to third on a fly ball to right by Ke'Bryan Hayes and scored when a 0-2 curveball by Milwaukee reliever Matt Bush (2-2) skipped by catcher Victor Caratini.

“I’m trying to bury it but obviously not that much,” Bush said. “It just got away from me a little bit.”

The Brewers fell to 0-3 since trading Hader, their four-time All-Star closer, to San Diego on Monday. Milwaukee failed to hold on to multiple-run leads in all three games at PNC Park, though starter Brandon Woodruff downplayed the idea that Hader’s departure played a role in getting swept at PNC Park for the first time in two years.

“When you come to the baseball field, regardless of who is in this room, this is our team and we’ve got a dang good team,” Woodruff said. “We’re here for each other, we’re going to play for each other and we can’t do anything about (who is in the room and who is not) other than going out and doing our job.”

Milwaukee took the lead in the top of the 10th when Duane Underwood Jr. (1-3) hit Kolten Wong with the bases loaded and two outs.

Leftfielder Ben Gamel then made a diving grab on a sinking liner by Hunter Renfroe to escape further damage, and the Pirates responded in the bottom of the inning behind Reynolds, who hit a walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the ninth in an 8-7 win on Wednesday.

“It says a lot about this team and how close we are to really (being contenders),” said Pittsburgh first baseman Michael Chavis. “We’ve got some impactful players. You catch us on the right day and things are going to kind of fall into place.”

Reynolds, Gamel, Maracano and catcher Jason Delay had two hits each for Pittsburgh. The victory snapped a six-game losing streak in extra-inning contests by the Pirates. Pittsburgh has won three straight following a seven-game slide that briefly dropped the club into last in the NL Central.

“I don’t think we’ve swept them since I’ve been up,” said Pirates third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes, who made his major league debut in September 2020. “We’re headed in the right direction.”

Pittsburgh trailed 3-1 in the seventh but pulled even behind RBI singles by Maracano and Gamel, the last coming against reliever Brad Boxberger that allowed Delay to score after Boxberger came on with two on and one out in the seventh. While the run wasn’t charged to Boxberger, it symbolized how Milwaukee’s bullpen struggled during the series. Brewers relievers were charged with nine runs over the course of three games.

Mike Brousseau hit a two-run home run for Milwaukee and Caratini added his seventh, but the Pirates also scored a pair of runs on wild pitches, including the winner.

The Brewers played the final 3 1/2 innings without star Christian Yelich and manager Craig Counsell. Both were ejected in the bottom of the seventh for arguing balls and strikes with home-plate umpire Jerry Meals after Yelich struck out looking to end the top of the inning.

HAYES SAVES THE DAY

The Brewers loaded the bases with one out in the ninth, but Hayes ended the threat by making a spinning backhand stab on a sharp grounder by pinch-hitter Tyrone Taylor. Hayes stood up, touched third, and then fired a throw to first that beat Taylor by a step.

Hayes said he shuffled toward the third-base line before the pitch, expecting Taylor to pull the ball. When Taylor ripped one down the line, Hayes was right there.

“I was able to get to it and then get a glove on it,” Hayes said. “It was kind of between the lip (of the grass) and the dirt. Luckily, it didn’t hop up on me too much. I was able to knock it down and make the play.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Brewers: Placed C Omar Narvaez on the 10-day injured list with a left quad strain. Narvaez tweaked the muscle while rounding third base on a hit by Willy Adames on Wednesday. Recalled C Mario Feliciano from Triple-A Nashville to fill in during Narvaez’s absence.

Pirates: Placed C Tyler Heineman (right groin strain) on the 10-day injured list and LHP Dillon Peters (left elbow inflammation) on the 15-day injured list. Called up C Taylor Davis and LHP Eric Stout from Triple-A Indianapolis.

UP NEXT

Brewers: Begin a five-game homestand on Friday night when they open a three-game set against Cincinnati. Eric Lauer (7-3, 3.75 ERA) will face Robert Dugger (0-0, 4.50) in the opener.

Pirates: Start a 10-day, three-city road trip on Friday when they visit Baltimore.

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.