Snell, Grisham lead Padres over Dodgers 2-1 for NLDS lead

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SAN DIEGO — Blake Snell pitched five-hit ball into the sixth inning and Trent Grisham homered at a festive Petco Park, helping the San Diego Padres top the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-1 on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their NL Division Series.

San Diego can clinch its first trip to the NL Championship Series since 1998 with one more win on Saturday night. Joe Musgrove pitches for his hometown Padres, and Tyler Anderson starts for the NL West champions.

With Snell working 5 1/3 innings and Josh Hader finishing a scoreless performance by San Diego’s bullpen, the 111-win Dodgers were pushed to the brink of a massive disappointment. Los Angeles went 14-5 against San Diego in the regular season, and it has defeated the Padres in nine straight series dating to 2021.

San Diego stranded two runners in each of the first four innings and 10 total. But Jake Cronenworth’s RBI single in the first and Grisham’s drive to right in the fourth were enough.

The sellout crowd of 45,137 roared when Hader struck out Trayce Thompson swinging for the final out. The four-time All-Star, who was acquired in an Aug. 1 trade with Milwaukee, also got the save in San Diego’s 5-3 victory on Wednesday, working 1 1/3 innings.

Nick Martinez got two outs and Luis García and Robert Suarez each worked an inning before Hader closed out Game 3 for a six-hitter. San Diego’s bullpen has thrown 13 straight scoreless innings in this series.

The Padres hadn’t hosted a playoff game with fans in the stands since the 2006 NLDS. Long-suffering fans made up for that gap by filling the downtown ballpark and raucously supporting a franchise that has made only seven trips to the postseason in its 54 seasons.

San Diego won a home wild-card series against St. Louis after the pandemic-shortened 2020 season but fans weren’t allowed in. San Diego was then swept in the NLDS by the eventual World Series champion Dodgers in the Texas bubble.

Waving yellow rally towels, the fans began chants of “Beat L.A.!” right after the national anthem.

Mookie Betts momentarily silenced the crowd with a leadoff single, but Snell struck out the side to a massive ovation.

Juan Soto, picked up at the trade deadline in a blockbuster deal with Washington, doubled with one out in the first and scored on Cronenworth’s two-out single off Tony Gonsolin.

Grisham, who struggled at the plate during the regular season, homered for the third time this postseason when he drove a pitch from Andrew Heaney onto the whiskey deck atop the right field wall leading off the fourth.

The Dodgers closed to 2-1 on Betts’ sacrifice fly in the fifth after Thompson opened the inning with a single and Austin Barnes doubled.

The Dodgers had the bases loaded with two outs in the third before Will Smith popped out.

Snell was facing the Dodgers in the playoffs for the first time since the ill-fated Game 6 of the 2020 World Series. Then with Tampa Bay, Snell was pulled by manager Kevin Cash in the sixth inning with the Rays leading. They ended up losing the game and the World Series.

Snell was traded to San Diego two months later.

Snell allowed Max Muncy’s one-out double in the sixth and manager Bob Melvin came on with the hook. Martinez retired the side.

San Diego chased Gonsolin, a first-time All-Star this year, after just 1 1/3 innings and 42 pitches. Manager Dave Roberts had said the Dodgers hoped to get him to 75 pitches. He allowed one run and four hits.

HOMETOWN JOE

Musgrove will be on the mound on Saturday night in another big situation. Musgrove grew up in suburban El Cajon and threw the first no-hitter in Padres history in just his second start with his new team in April 2021. He was dominant in the clinching Game 3 of the wild-card series at New York, so much so that Mets manager Buck Showalter asked the umpires to check the right-hander’s ears for a foreign substance.

“I’m glad I get the opportunity to decide our fate one way or another,” Musgrove said before Friday night’s game.

During batting practice Friday, catcher Jorge Alfaro wore a T-shirt that said, “Hold My Ear” and pitcher Sean Manaea wore a T-shirt that read, “Stick It To ’Em.” The shirts had the image of Musgrove holding his left hand up to his ear.

GOOSE

Someone with the Padres placed a plastic goose on the ground behind the cage during batting practice. On Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, a greater white-fronted goose landed on the field during the eighth inning of Game 2, which San Diego won to tie the series. The goose was removed by the grounds crew during a pitching change.

UP NEXT

Anderson (15-5, 2.57 ERA regular season) is slated to make his first postseason start since 2018 while opposing Musgrove (10-7, 2.93) in Game 4.

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.