Schwarber HR, Segura, Phillies top Padres 4-2, lead NLCS 2-1

Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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PHILADELPHIA – Kyle Schwarber led off with his latest scintillating home run, Jean Segura atoned for a run-scoring error with a go-ahead single and the Philadelphia Phillies edged the San Diego Padres 4-2 on Friday night to take a 2-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Game 4 is Saturday at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies returned home to another packed house for the first NLCS game in the city since 2010 and are now only two wins away from playing for their first World Series championship since 2008.

The Phillies can take solace they survived the Padres without playing their best baseball. Outside of Schwarber’s homer — Schwarbombs as they’re affectionately known in Philly — the big bats were pretty quiet. Segura and Rhys Hoskins also made costly errors that made the game closer than it ever needed to be.

Yet starter Ranger Suarez survived shoddy fielding to earn the win. He walked none and allowed only two hits and one earned run over 68 pitches in five sharp innings. Zach Eflin and Jose Alvarado each tossed scoreless innings and Seranthony Dominguez earned a six-out save as the Phillies head into a Game 4 expected to be largely a bullpen game.

With one out and a runner on in the ninth, Dominguez struck out Jurickson Profar on a full-count check swing that sent the outfielder into a rage. Profar cursed out the plate umpire, threw his helmet and kicked it as he stormed off the field.

Padres postseason ace Joe Musgrove couldn’t get out of the sixth inning and left the mound to Alec Bohm exhorting the crowd to get louder after his RBI double to right in the sixth past a diving Juan Soto made it 4-2.

Musgrove scuffled from the first batter.

Schwarber worked a full count and then smashed his second solo homer of the series into the right field seats. Schwarber, who led the National League with 46 homers, also hit a jaw-dropping, 488-foot solo drive in Game 1. Alas, this blast only sailed 405 feet.

The Phillies seemed poised to jump on Musgrove in the inning after Hoskins and J.T Realmuto walked.

Musgrove acknowledged this week that he had been “beaten down by the crowds” early in his postseason career. The Phillies fans — another sellout crowd of 45,279 went wild on every pitch — were frothing when Bryce Harper came to hit.

Harper, though, hit into a double play and Musgrove retired Nick Castellanos on a grounder to escape further damage. Musgrove threw 22 pitches without an out, then needed only pitches two pitches to get three outs.

Musgrove pitched out of another jam in the second when Bryson Stott, who hit a one-out double, was stranded on third.

The 29-year-old Musgrove has been the postseason ace for the Padres, the team he grew up rooting for as a California kid. He tossed one-hit ball over seven shutout innings in an NL Wild Card Series win over the Mets and followed up with six solid innings to help beat the Dodgers in the NLCS.

Suarez, meanwhile, had struggled of late and walked five in 3 1/3 innings in his Game 2 NLDS start at Atlanta. But hey, this is what makes baseball so great — it was Suarez who mowed down the Padres in rapid succession.

The lefty threw only six pitches in the third inning. Suarez, who went 10-7 this season, could have pitched deeper in the game but manager Rob Thomson wants him fresh for another outing if the series goes long.

Suarez should have escaped the fourth unscathed but Segura took his eye off the ball at second base and dropped the toss for an error and a run scored in what should have been a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Suarez left two runners stranded to keep it 1-1.

Segura threw his bat and redeemed himself when he lofted a two-run single to right in the fourth for a 3-1 lead. He was promptly picked off first. He later robbed Ha-Seong Kim of a base hit.

Hoskins muffed Trent Grisham‘s routine grounder to lead off the fifth for a two-base error. Grisham scored an unearned run on Kim’s RBI groundout that made it 3-2.

The Phillies bullpen took over from there and won a game in front of former World Series favorites of the past such as Charlie Manuel, Ryan Howard and Matt Stairs. Maybe this year’s team could be next.

CENTER OF ATTENTION

Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce ran on the field wearing a Phillies jersey and chest bumped the Phanatic. Kelce waved a rally towel and chugged an entire can of beer as Phillies fans roared. Kelce watched part of the game with Manuel and “Top Gun: Maverick” actor Miles Teller.

LEADING OFF

Schwarber is only the second Phillie in postseason history to hit a leadoff home run. Jimmy Rollins is the other, doing so three times.

UP NEXT

The Phillies and Padres have yet to name Game 4 starters.

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.