Blue Jays score early and often in 11-7 victory over Rangers

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Danny Jansen homered and matched a career high with four hits, Santiago Espinal tied his career highs with three hits and three RBIs, and Raimel Tapia hit a three-run homer as Toronto’s bottom of the order led an early onslaught in an 11-7 victory over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.

“Janno, Tap, Spee, those guys – I think they’ve been pretty consistent all year doing that in that part of the lineup,” Blue Jays interim manager John Schneider said. “When you’re doing that with the top of order (also hitting) . it’s a pretty good mix.”

All 11 Blue Jays runs came in the first four innings, helping Kevin Gausman to his fourth consecutive win. The Blue Jays are a season-best 18 games over .500 and pulled within one-half game of AL wild-card leader Tampa Bay.

Gausman (12-9) allowed five runs on two homers – a three-run shot by Adolis Garcia in the first inning and a two-run homer by Sam Huff in the sixth. He went 5 1/3 innings, striking out nine, which is one short of his season high.

Bo Bichette, who had five homers in his previous four games, hit three doubles all to the opposite field. This month, Bichette is hitting .525 with a majors-best 21 hits, six homers and 18 RBI, hitting safely in eight of nine games.

“We know he’s good, and this is the best version of Bo we’ve ever seen,” Schneider said.

Bichette said he feels “like I’m making adjustments better … I feel confident.”

The Jays batted around twice in the first three innings against Kohei Arihara (1-3), who also gave up a two-run homer to Jansen in the fourth. Tim Mayza earned his first save of the season.

Garcia’s home run, which snapped an 0-for-11 streak, had an exit velocity of 113 mph to equal his career best. He returned to the lineup for the first time since Tuesday and, still bothered by a sore glute muscle, was the designated hitter instead of playing in the outfield.

Arihara, who pitched six seasons in Japan before joining Texas last year, allowed a major-league high 11 runs on 12 hits and five walks.

Rangers interim manager Tony Beasley said he stuck with Arihara longer than he wanted to against the club that leads the majors in hitting at .261 because Texas will play five games in the next four days.

“He pitched in hitter-friendly counts for the most part of his night,” Beasley said, “and this is a tough team to do that with.”

The Rangers have lost 12 of their last 13 games, falling a season-low 20 games under .500.

THE LAST BIG WIN

When Gausman won at Boston on July 11, he left after pitching five innings and allowing three runs. That’s because the Jays put up an 11 spot in the fifth, extending their lead to 25-3. They won 28-3 in a game that saw Tapia and Jansen have six RBIs each.

SHORT HOPS

The Blue Jays have won 14 of their last 16 road games. . Rangers 2B Marcus Semien had two singles to extend his on-base streak to 21 games, the longest active streak in the majors. . Toronto OF Teoscar Hernandez (paternity list) was scheduled to return to the team on Saturday night or Sunday, then spend one day on the restricted list.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Rangers: RHP Jon Gray (left oblique strain) could make his first start since Aug. 1 during Monday’s doubleheader at Miami.

UP NEXT

Rangers LHP Martin Perez (10-6, 2.82 ERA) will start Sunday’s series finale. He was sixth in the AL in ERA going into Saturday, has lost his last two starts, including 1-0 at Houston last Monday. Jays RHP Trevor Richards (3-1, 4.72) will serve as the opener of a bullpen game for the second time in nine days.

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.