Category Archives: MLB

Buck Showalter, Joe Espada, Matt Quatraro to get second interview for New York Mets’ managerial vacancy

Buck Showalter will be among the candidates to get a second round of interviews with the New York Mets regarding their vacant managerial position, sources told ESPN, confirming multiple reports.

Matt Quatraro started the second round of interviews with the Mets on Tuesday, while Joe Espada is scheduled for Thursday and Showalter for Friday, sources confirmed to ESPN.

New general manager Billy Eppler, who spent 2015 through 2020 in the Angels’ organization, stated last month that he would talk to the baseball operations department about the best approach on hiring a skipper, balancing the factors between in-game management, analytical approach and clubhouse culture creation

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The Mets fired Luis Rojas after a season in which the team held onto first place for 103 days but ultimately finished 77-85 and missing the playoffs.

Showalter, 65, has been a major league manager for four teams between 1992 and 2018.

He won American League Manager of the Year honors during stints with the New York Yankees, Texas Rangers and Baltimore Orioles. He also managed the Arizona Diamondbacks. He has a career record of 1,551-1,517.

Espada, 46, has previously interviewed for multiple major league managerial vacancies but has yet to be hired. He has served as bench coach of the Houston Astros since 2018 after also spending time with the Yankees and Miami Marlins as a third-base coach.

Quatraro, 48, has served on coaching staffs with Cleveland and Tampa Bay, where he is the current bench coach.

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Padres reportedly sign RHP Nick Martinez

The Padres reportedly signed RHP Nick Martinez to a four-year contract worth $20 million.

However, the deal did not get done before the current MLB lockout.

Once the deal is completed and official, Martinez will have opt-outs after each of the first two seasons, but the Padres will hope he becomes a critical part of the Padres rotation. He’ll be a free agent until the lockout ends.

Martinez, who spent four campaigns with the Texas Rangers from 2014-2017, played the past four years in Japan.

The veteran pitcher owns a 3.44 ERA over his career in the NPB, but posted a stellar 1.62 ERA for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2021. These numbers prompted the Padres to make a move. Martinez also pitched in the Tokyo Olympics for Team USA, as they secured a silver medal. 

Martinez actually played second base for most of his collegiate career at Fordham. He pitched in 15 matches, and the Rangers chose to develop him as a pitcher. The native of Miami was drafted in the 18th round of the 2011 Major League draft but worked his way up the ranks quickly.

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He made his professional debut in the Arizona Complex League and pushed his way up to Double-A in the 2013 season. After a strong spring training, he was named as the fifth starter for the Texas Rangers for the 2014 season. He made 29 appearances for the Rangers, counting 24 starts.

Martinez pitched 140.1 innings, posted a 4.55 ERA and a 1.461 WHIP. His season highlight came on September 23, when he threw 6.2 scoreless innings and permitted just five hits versus the Astros. 

Martinez also pitched well in 2015, posting a career-best 3.96 ERA in 125 innings and 21 starts. That year, he did lead the major leagues in hit batters.

Unfortunately, he struggled in 2016, splitting time between the Rangers and Triple-A Round Rock. Ultimately, he made 12 appearances and just five starts for the Rangers. The pitcher didn’t perform very well in his limited time, posting a 5.59 ERA.

He did get extended opportunities in 2016.

The right-handed pitcher made 23 appearances and 18 starts in the 2017 season, as he pitched 111.1 innings, but struggled again, putting up a 5.56 ERA.

Nick Martinez hit free agency after the season, and after struggling in his previous two seasons, there wasn’t much interest from teams in the States.

The veteran pitcher signed a one-year deal with the Nippon Ham-Fighters. He put together a strong season recording a 3.51 ERA, which was enough to get him another one-year contract for the 2019 season.  

That year, Martinez put up a 3.51 ERA for the second consecutive season, pitching in 161.2 innings and striking out 93 batters in the process.

For the 2020 season, Nick Martinez re-signed with the Ham-Fighters. But in 17 appearances, the pitcher struggled. Martinez was only able to produce a 4.62 ERA and became a free agent after the season ended.

The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks came calling, and he has been stellar. His 1.62 ERA came in 149.2 innings, and his career-best professional season earns him a contract with the Padres. 

The veteran right-handed pitcher will compete with players such as Chris Paddack and MacKenzie Gore to make the back end of the rotation. If he doesn’t make the rotation, he’ll factor into the bullpen to some degree.

His time in Japan helped him develop, and he’ll look to be a major player in the Padres pitching staff in 2022 and beyond.

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Pittsburgh Pirates trade Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings to Miami Marlins

Gold Glove catcher Jacob Stallings is coming to the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins obtained Stallings from the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday in exchange for pitcher Zach Thompson and prospects Kyle Nicolas and Connor Scott.

Stallings, 31, is coming off the best season of his career. He earned his first Gold Glove for his handling of an inexperienced pitching staff that ranked among the worst in the major leagues while hitting .246 with career-highs in home runs (8) and RBIs (53) in 112 matches.

Stallings joins a team that is trying to elbow its way into contention in the NL East. Miami signed outfielder Avisail Garcia to a five-year deal worth $56-million and agreed to terms with pitcher Sandy Alcantara.

Stallings finds himself going from handling a staff that pitched to a 5.08 ERA — 28th in the majors — to one that posted a respectable 3.98 ERA and is anchored by Alcantara.

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The 26-year-old Alcantara has gone 20-34 with a 3.48 ERA in four campaigns with the Marlins. He started 33 games this past season for Miami, going 9-15 with a 3.19 ERA and had 201 strikeouts in 205 2-3 innings.

The only other pitchers with at least 200 innings and 200 strikeouts in 2021 were Zach Wheeler and Walker Buehler.

Pittsburgh is in the middle of a franchise-wide reboot focused on hoarding as many prospects as possible. Nicolas and Scott, both 22, fit that mold.

Nicolas, a right-handed pitcher, made 21 appearances between Class A and Double-A in 2021 and struck out 136 batters, the most among players in Miami’s minor-league system.

Scott, an outfielder, hit .276 with 25 doubles and 10 home runs in 2021 while playing for Class-A Beloit.

Thompson, originally drafted by the Pirates in the 48th round of the 2011 draft, went 3-7 with a 3.24 ERA in 75 innings for Miami in 2021. He began the season as a starter before shifting to the bullpen in September.

Pittsburgh also finalized a $4 million, one-year deal with first baseman/outfielder Yoshi Tsutsugo and one-year deals with left-hander Jose Quintana and outfielder Ben Gamel.

Gamel had been eligible for arbitration.

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Seattle Mariners acquiring utility player Adam Frazier in trade with San Diego Padres

The Seattle Mariners have got second baseman/outfielder Adam Frazier in a trade with the San Diego Padres. Going to San Diego will be hard-throwing left-handed reliever Raymond Kerr and outfielder Corey Rosier.

Frazier, who turns 30 in December, was an All-Star last season for Pittsburgh, which dealt him to the Padres. He’s in line to play in a super-utility role, especially if Seattle signs a big-name free-agent infielder.

“We thought we were at the goal line to acquire Adam at trade deadline last year,” Mariners president Jerry Dipoto stated.

“Obviously we missed out and we stayed in touch with the Padres as we headed into the offseason knowing that they had a pretty robust roster. And we just liked the player so we stuck with it.”

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The Mariners revealed the move on Twitter with a nod to the TV show “Frasier.”

Frazier is under contract for $7.5 million this season and can enter free agency after the 2022 season. He finished fifth in the National League last season in hits (176) and batting average (.305) and added five home runs and 43 RBIs.

“Adam, to me, is one of the better strike-zone managers in baseball,” Dipoto said. “He’s got great contact skills. In an era where strikeouts are prevalent, he doesn’t strike out. His strikeout rates would be good in any era, really.”

“That’s how I feel I can impact the team; play good defense and try to hit the baseball. Get on base any way I can,” Frazier said.

Dipoto stated the club is having conversations with multiple free agents and made contract offers to a couple of them, one of whom he called “notable.”

“We felt like adding Adam made us a deeper team without stopping us from doing anything else we would have wanted to do,” Dipoto said. “That’s double the fun. We can continue to add to our team because Adam is so versatile.”

In six MLB seasons, Frazier has a career .281 average with 313 runs scored and 215 RBIs.

Kerr, 27, is a power lefty who can hit 100 mph. Rosier, 22, had an excellent debut in 2021.

Kerr was added to the Mariners’ 40-man roster just last week. He split time between Double-A Arkansas and Triple-A Tacoma last season. Rosier was a 12th-round pick in the 2021 amateur draft out of UNC Greensboro. He spent last season at Single-A Modesto.

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Milwaukee Brewers hire Ozzie Timmons, Connor Dawson as hitting coaches

The Milwaukee Brewers will go with multiple hitting coaches next campaign after hiring Ozzie Timmons and Connor Dawson to replace the fired Andy Haines.

Brewers president of baseball operations David Stearns announced Thursday that the National League Central champions had selected Timmons and Dawson to split up responsibilities as part of their “hitting coach team at the major league level.”

Stearns stated the Brewers also plan to hire an assistant hitting coach to join that duo.

“What we are doing is really a recognition that this has transformed into a very big job,” Stearns said. “Over the last three to five years, as information continues to proliferate our game, we’re asking more and more of our coaches in general and that’s certainly true of our hitting coaches. “… I think we’re going to see other teams in the industry follow similar structures in the not-too-distant future, so we think this is the right way to go.”

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The Brewers announced Oct. 20 that they wouldn’t be renewing the contract of Haines, who had been Milwaukee’s hitting coach for three seasons.

Milwaukee scored a total of six runs in a four-game NL Division Series loss to the eventual World Series champion Atlanta Braves after ranking 12th out of 30 major league teams in scoring, 20th in OPS and 27th in batting average during the regular season.

Stearns stated he didn’t interview the two hitting coaches together but was seeking individuals who were open-minded and willing to collaborate. Stearns said he thinks he found two coaches whose divergent backgrounds will make them an ideal duo.

“Connor’s coming from the new school,” Timmons said. “I’m a little bit of old school. We can combine that together. We can make the Brewers roll. That’s the plan.”

Timmons, 51, was the Tampa Bay Rays’ first base coach and assistant hitting coach from 2017 to 2021. He also assisted players with baserunning and outfield instruction during that time. He played with four different MLB teams from 1995 to 2000.

Dawson, 28, had worked in the Seattle Mariners organization since 2019 and was their minor league hitting coordinator this season. “I’m relatively new to professional baseball,” Dawson said.

“Having a guy like Ozzie, and his experience as a player, as a coach, it’s invaluable. His wisdom complemented with what I have to bring to the table, I think it makes a great pairing, and I think it can make us really good teammates in this endeavor as well.”

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Chicago White Sox considering Craig Kimbrel trade after picking up reliever’s option

The Chicago White Sox are open to moving reliever Craig Kimbrel days after picking up his $16 million contract option for 2022.

“We view him as a potentially impactful reliever as he’s been for the vast majority of his career,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stated Tuesday on Day 1 of the GM meetings in Southern California. “We’re not alone in that opinion.

“What we have to figure out is if it makes the most sense to have Craig in a White Sox uniform going forward or is there a better use of that spot and him perhaps via trade.”

Kimbrel, 33, stands ninth all-time with 372 career saves but was asked to pitch in the eighth inning for the White Sox after he was acquired in a midseason trade with the crosstown Cubs.

The move backfired as Kimbrel’s ERA ballooned from 0.49 with the Cubs to 5.09 with the White Sox.

“It didn’t work out the way we wanted last year so perhaps there’s a better use of his skills than how we were doing it,” Hahn said. “So we have to reconsider his usage with us versus a potential trade.”

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The White Sox had an all-star closer in Liam Hendriks when they gave up injured second baseman Nick Madrigal along with reliever Codi Heuer to get Kimbrel at the end of July. At the time, Kimbrel said he had no problem pitching in the eighth inning and blamed his struggles on mechanical issues.

Hahn said Kimbrel continues to express the desire to do what’s best for the team.

However, his return to the White Sox is in doubt and he’s more than likely to pitch back in the ninth inning for another team in 2022.

“He’s as good as gone,” one rival executive said Tuesday.

Hahn admitted Kimbrel’s performance wasn’t great but said he doesn’t regret the decision to trade for him. White Sox brass decided he was the best reliever on the market, and they went out and got him.

“I don’t know if we’re ever going to have an exact answer why he didn’t work out over those eight weeks but certainly if we’re going to include him in our plans for the future we have to find a way to maximize his abilities,” he said.

“It’s easy to look at the results and work your way backwards for an explanation and say, ‘Well the role wasn’t what he was used to, so it must be the role.’ He approached it the same way he would approach closing opportunities.”

If, by chance, the White Sox don’t move him, Hahn is confident the White Sox will get a team-first player in whatever role they put him in. “I’ve had multiple conversations with him since the season ended,” Hahn said. “He wants to win.”

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LHP Andrew Heaney headed to Los Angeles Dodgers on 1-year deal

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who entered this offseason with several holes to fill on their pitching staff, signed Andrew Heaney to a one-year contract worth $8.5 million, sources confirmed to ESPN on Monday.

Heaney, a 30-year-old left-handed starter, spent the bulk of the past seven years with the crosstown Angels, posting a 4.67 ERA with nearly four times as many strikeouts as walks in 605 innings.

Heaney spent most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery but has since made only three relatively short trips to the injured list.

His ERA ballooned to 5.83 in 129⅔ innings last season, but some of the underlying numbers painted his 2021 season more favorably (most notably an average exit velocity of 89 mph, an expected ERA of 4.03 and a swinging-strike percentage of 13.8).

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The Dodgers have only Walker Buehler and Julio Urias returning from the 2021 rotation, though Tony Gonsolin and David Price will also vie for solidified spots.

The team is attracted in bringing back Max Scherzer, who is poised to sign one of the sport’s richest deals on an annual basis, but will presumably be in play for several big-name free agents and trade candidates.

The Dodgers recently opted against extending an $18.4 million qualifying offer to Clayton Kershaw largely because of the forearm/elbow inflammation that plagued him down the stretch last season.

The ailment kept Kershaw from participating in the postseason and has created an air of mystery around his health at the onset of this offseason. If Kershaw is healthy and wants to return to the Dodgers — and if his hometown Texas Rangers aren’t too much of a pull — both sides are expected to work something out.

Heaney, who made $6.75 million last season, was traded to the New York Yankees in July, gave up 13 home runs in 35⅔ innings and spent all of September in a low-leverage bullpen role.

He was designated for assignment on Oct. 5 and granted free agency two days later. Because of that, Heaney didn’t have to wait until the official start of free agency — typically five days after the conclusion of the World Series — to speak with prospective suitors.

Heaney spoke with multiple teams before deciding on the Dodgers.

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Trevor Bauer, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon decline opt-outs; Michael Conforto, Noah Syndergaard get qualifying offers from New York Mets

Right-hander Trevor Bauer, third baseman Nolan Arenado, outfielder Charlie Blackmon and infielder-outfielder Jurickson Profar declined to opt out of their contracts to become free agents.

Bauer agreed to a three-year, $102 million deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers in February and stated 8-5 with a 2.59 ERA in 17 starts. He has been on paid leave since July 2 while he is investigated under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy. He is keeping salaries of $32 million in each of the next two seasons.

Elsewhere, the New York Mets revealed Saturday that they have extended $18.4 million qualifying offers to outfielder Michael Conforto and pitcher Noah Syndergaard — a day ahead of Sunday’s deadline. Players have 10 days to decide whether to accept the one-year offer.

Arenado was owed $214 million over seven seasons as part of the contract that was amended when he was traded Feb. 1 to the St. Louis Cardinals by the Colorado Rockies.

He had the right to opt out after this season and also has the right to opt out after the 2022 season.

Arenado hit .255 with 34 homers and 105 RBIs in his first season with the Cardinals.

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Blackmon struck a six-year, $108 million deal with the Rockies in April 2018 that included a $21 million player option for 2022 and a $10 million option for 2023. He kept his contract for 2022 after hitting .270 with 13 homers and 78 RBIs.

Profar agreed in January to a three-year, $21 million contract with the San Diego Padres and had the right to opt out of a deal that involved $6.5 million for 2022, $7.5 million for 2023 and a $10 million mutual option for 2024. He hit .227 with four homers and 33 RBIs for the disappointing Padres.

Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart’s $7.75 million option was exercised Saturday by the Detroit Tigers, who acquired him Wednesday from the Cincinnati Reds for infield prospect Nick Quintana. Barnhart’s option price included a $250,000 escalator for winning a 2020 Gold Glove and would go up again by the same amount if he wins for 2021.

The Chicago White Sox declined a $6 million option on 31-year-old infielder Cesar Hernandez. He hit .232 with 21 homers and 62 RBIs for Cleveland and Chicago, which got him on July 29.

Reds left-hander Justin Wilson exercised a $2.3 million player option, part of a two-year, $5.15 million deal he signed with the New York Yankees. By exercising the player option, Wilson gave the Reds a club option for 2023 at $500,000 above that year’s minimum salary. He had a 2.81 ERA in 21 games after the Reds obtained him on July 28.

Josh Tomlin’s $1.25 million option was declined by the World Series champion Atlanta Braves, who must pay a $250,000 buyout. The 37-year-old right-hander was 4-0 with a 6.57 ERA but did not pitch in the postseason.

St. Louis declined a $17 million option on right-hander Carlos Martinez, who gets a $500,000 buyout, and a $12 million option on infielder Matt Carpenter, who receives a $2 million buyout. Martinez was 4-9 with a 6.23 ERA, completing a five-year, $51 million contract. Carpenter hit .169 with three homers and 21 RBIs, finishing a two-year, $39 million contract.

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New York Yankees first-base coach Reggie Willits becomes fourth not to return to Aaron Boone’s staff

There’s another hole to fill on Aaron Boone’s coaching staff.

First-base coach and outfielder instructor Reggie Willits is leaving the Yankees to become a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Oklahoma, his alma mater, the team revealed Thursday.

Willits becomes the latest departure from Boone’s staff after the Yankees did not renew the contracts of third-base coach Phil Nevin and hitting coaches Marcus Thames and P.J. Pilittere.

“I want to thank Brian Cashman, Aaron Boone and the Steinbrenner family for the opportunity to work for such a world-class organization,” Willits said in a statement.

“I’ve cherished my time with the Yankees and I’ve grown professionally and personally because of the bonds that I’ve formed with so many players, coaches and staff.”

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“It’s been a challenging personal decision to make. I’m leaving a team and organization I’ve loved being a part of, but I’m returning home to be closer to my family and to work for a program I have deep ties to and great respect for.”

The Yankees stated Willits will stay with the organization until the end of December, when his contract expires, before officially joining the Sooners in January.

Two of Willits’ sons, Jaxon and Eli, are committed to play baseball at Oklahoma.

The 40-year-old Willits, an Oklahoma native, has been with the Yankees since 2015 — first as a minor league outfield and baserunning coordinator before becoming the first-base coach/outfield instructor in 2018.

He was credited with helping Clint Frazier become a Gold Glove finalist in right field in 2020 and also worked with Giancarlo Stanton in returning to the outfield this season.

Willits was also the Yankees’ baserunning coach, overseeing a unit that ran into 50 outs on the bases this season — the eighth most in the majors.

Boone, who earlier this week signed a new three-year contract with a club option for the fourth year, and GM Brian Cashman will now be looking for at least four new coaches this offseason.

Bench coach Carlos Mendoza, pitching coach Matt Blake, bullpen coach Mike Harkey and quality control and catching coach Tanner Swanson are currently still on the staff.

Gerrit Cole was named a finalist for the MLB Players Association’s American League Outstanding Pitcher award. The other finalists are Blue Jays lefty Robbie Ray and White Sox right-hander Lance Lynn — potentially foreshadowing the favorites for the AL Cy Young race.

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Braves blast 4 HRs, beat Dodgers 9-2 for 3-1 lead in NLCS

Eddie Rosario homered twice in his second four-hit game of the series and six pitchers combined on a four-hitter, giving the Atlanta Braves a 9-2 triumph Wednesday night over the Los Angeles Dodgers and a commanding 3-1 lead in the NL Championship Series.

Game 5 is Thursday at Dodger Stadium, with the Braves one victory from their first pennant in 22 years and the defending World Series champions facing elimination. Last year, the Dodgers trailed 0-2 and 1/3 against the Braves in the NLCS before roaring back to win three consecutive games and claim the pennant at a neutral site in Arlington, Texas.

They’ll need to jump-start their offense to have a shot. Their first five hitters — Mookie Betts, Corey Seager, NL batting champion Trea Turner, Will Smith and Gavin Lux — were a combined 0 for 17.

Rosario became the first player to have two four-hit games in a League Championship Series. He drove in four runs while continuing his torrid postseason hitting, finishing a double short of the cycle. He homered in the second, tripled in the third, singled in the fifth and clocked a three-run homer in the ninth.

The left fielder has hit in every game of this postseason, collecting 14 hits so far. He has struck out once.

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The Braves’ four homers tied a postseason franchise record.

Each of the series’ first three games was decided by one run in the last two innings.

But when it got late, the Dodgers couldn’t generate any comeback magic this time.

Atlanta opener Jesse Chavez combined with Drew Smyly, Chris Martin, A.J. Minter and Tyler Matzek and Will Smith to hold down the Dodgers’ offense.

Los Angeles didn’t get a hit until the fifth and was limited to one the rest of the way.

The Braves wasted no time in jumping all over 20-game winner Julio Urías, who gave up three homers in just 2 2/3 innings. It was the second time he gave up that many in his career; the first time was in his second major league game in 2016.

Rosario drove an 0-2 pitch into the left-field pavilion leading off the second and Adam Duvall followed with a shot to center, the first time the Braves homered back-to-back in the postseason since Oct. 3, 2002, versus San Francisco in Game 2 of the NL Division Series.

Freddie Freeman went deep leading off the third. Two outs later, Rosario tripled to deep right on a two-strike pitch, sliding headfirst into the bag. Duvall was intentionally walked and Joc Pederson singled to center, scoring Rosario for a 4-0 lead.

The Dodgers closed to 5-2 in the fifth on pinch-hitter AJ Pollock’s two-out, two-run single. Justin Turner singled for their first hit of the game and Cody Bellinger followed with a single and stolen base.

Freeman’s RBI double in the ninth made it 6-2 before Rosario went deep.

Urías didn’t record a strikeout until the fourth, when Dansby Swanson and Freeman went down swinging back-to-back to end the left-hander’s first clean inning.

Urías gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Urías started on two days’ rest, having thrown an inning of relief in Game 2 at Atlanta. He gave up two runs on three hits, including a tying double to Austin Riley. Duvall robbed Lux of a home run with a leaping catch at the wall in center in the second.

Duvall went to the warning track in the seventh to catch a ball hit by Bellinger, who hit a tying, three-run homer in the Dodgers’ eighth-inning rally that helped win Game 3 on Tuesday.

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