Tagged in: World Series

Kansas City Royals reliever Wade Davis announces retirement

Reliever Wade Davis, a three-time All-Star selection who has 141 saves in 13 major league seasons, is retiring, the Kansas City Royals revealed Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Davis, who led the National League with 43 saves in 2018, clinched the World Series title for the Royals in 2015 with a game-ending strikeout versus the New York Mets.

Davis returned to the Royals in 2021, going 0-3 with two saves in 40 appearances.

“Wade will forever be remembered by our fans, his teammates and our organization as an elite competitor and a very classy person,” Royals president of baseball operations Dayton Moore said in a statement.

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The Royals acquired Davis from Tampa Bay in December 2012, converted him to a full-time reliever in 2013 — he had 47 saves over four seasons with Kansas City — and then traded him to the Chicago Cubs after the 2016 season.

He spent one season in Chicago, completing a four-year, $12.6 million contract with three options that wound up totaling $35.1 million in salary.

He then signed a three-year, $52 million contract with the Colorado Rockies.

Davis was 63-55 with a 3.94 ERA and 141 saves in 161 chances over 88 starts and 469 relief appearances for Tampa Bay (2009-12), Kansas City (2013-16, 2021), the Chicago Cubs (2017) and Colorado (2018-20). He was an All-Star from 2015-17.

The right-hander was 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA and eight saves in the postseason, counting 3-0 with a 0.36 ERA and four saves for the Royals in 2014 and ’15.

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Boston Red Sox exercise club option on manager Alex Cora for 2023-24 seasons

The Boston Red Sox have exercised Alex Cora’s club option through the 2023 and 2024 seasons, the team revealed Monday.

Cora, 46, is 284-202 in three seasons as Red Sox manager, having led the club to a winning record in all three seasons at the helm, including setting a franchise record with 108 victories and a World Series title in 2018.

“I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to manage the Red Sox,” Cora said in a statement. “We experienced so many special moments as a team and as a city in 2021, but we still have unfinished business to take care of. I am excited about the current state of our organization and eager to continue my work with our front office, coaches, players, and everyone who makes this such a special place.”

Cora was let go after he was identified as the ringleader in the Houston Astros cheating scandal.

After Ron Roenicke managed the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Cora was brought back to the Boston dugout.

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Cora, who finished fifth in AL Manager of the Year voting, led the Red Sox to a 92-70 record during the 2021 regular season, counting a Major League-best 47 come-from-behind wins.

The Red Sox advanced to the American League Championship Series after defeating the rival New York Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game and the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL Division Series. Boston fell in the ALCS to the Astros in six games.

“There’s so much that you can say about what an organization looks for in a manager,” Red Sox chief baseball officer Chaim Bloom said. “I think a lot of it comes down to leadership and partnership. You’re seeking a leader, not just for your clubhouse, but for the entire organization, and a partner in our goal of bringing championship caliber baseball to Fenway Park on an annual basis. And in Alex, we have both of those things.

“One of the unique things about Alex is that he combines a lot of different qualities that help bring the best out of players, his feel for the game of baseball, his intellect, just the way he notices things on the field and is able to combine them with the preparation that he does to maximize what goes on the field. He can really take a clubhouse to another level, there’s not that many people that bring both of those things to the table in abundance like Alex does. On top of that, he’s just a great guy to work with. He’s charismatic, he’s funny, he’s real.”

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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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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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Astros club 4 HRs, beat Orioles 13-0 for 10th straight win

José Altuve silenced the booing fans at Camden Yards with a two-run homer, José Urquidy pitched seven innings of three-hit ball and the Houston Astros stretched their winning streak to 10 matches by breezing past the Baltimore Orioles 13-0 Wednesday night.

Yordan Alvarez, Abraham Toro and Chas McCormick also homered for the Astros, who outscored the lowly Orioles 26-3 during a three-game sweep. Houston’s 10-game run is its longest since May 2019 and two short of the club record.

“To me, we’re doing what we’re capable of doing and I still think we’ve got a couple of guys who can get better,” Astros manage Dusty Baker said. “The guys are feeling good about themselves and that’s what you want.”

Altuve was greeted with jeers every time he stepped to the plate during the series, mostly because he was the Most Valuable Player during a 2017 campaign in which the Astros won the World Series but were later found to have been stealing signs.

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The Astros leadoff man has heard boos from opposing fans in almost every stadium this season, but Altuve has nevertheless hit 17 home runs, including a drive in the fourth inning off Thomas Eshelman (0-1) that made it 6-0.

“They spoiled some good pitches and put some good swings on some balls that were in the zone,” Eshelman said.

Alvarez and Toro connected in the seventh off knuckleballer Mickey Jannis and McCormick added a solo shot in the eighth.

Urquidy (6-3) didn’t need to be dominant on a night in which the Astros banged out 17 hits, but the right-hander nevertheless struck out six, walked one and permitted just one runner past second base. He’s won six of his last seven decisions and gone seven innings in three consecutive starts.

“He had outstanding control,” Baker said. “He always has control, but tonight he had command. He threw some quality strikes. He’s getting better and better each outing.”

Baltimore has lost 13 of 14 and Thursday will seek to snap a 19-game skid on the road in Buffalo versus the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Los Angeles Dodgers’ Justin Turner staying on 2-year, $34M deal

Third baseman Justin Turner is staying put with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he revealed Saturday on Twitter.

Turner’s deal is for two years and $34 million guaranteed, and it includes a club option for a third year, sources told ESPN’s Jeff Passan.

Turner, 36, became a free agent when his four-year, $64 million contract expired following the Dodgers’ World Series triumph in October. A member of the Dodgers since 2014, Turner is the longest-tenured position player on the team and the third longest overall, behind Clayton Kershaw (2008) and Kenley Jansen (2010).

Turner was a journeyman for the first half of his major league career. He was non-tendered by the New York Mets in December 2013, went unsigned for the next two months and then agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers. At 29, he started to establish himself among the game’s most productive third basemen.

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Turner batted .297/.378/.508 from 2015 to 2019, accumulating 105 homers, 147 doubles and 21.9 FanGraphs wins above replacement in 645 regular-season games.

He made an All-Star team, concluded within the top 10 in National League MVP voting on two occasions and set the tone for the Dodgers’ hitting philosophy as their most consistent performer.

Along the way, Turner contributed several memorable postseason moments, most notably his walk-off home run versus the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the 2017 NL Championship Series. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, he ranks first in Dodgers postseason history in hits (79), home runs (12), runs (40) and RBIs (41).

His crowning achievement finally came last season, when Turner — a lifelong Dodgers fan who grew up in Lakewood, California, and identifies Kirk Gibson’s famous pinch-hit home run in the 1988 World Series as his first baseball memory — helped lead the franchise to its first championship in more than 30 years.

Turner posted a 1.066 OPS in six World Series games versus the Tampa Bay Rays, but his career highlight became tarnished after Major League Baseball informed the Dodgers in the late stages of the eventual clincher that Turner had tested positive for COVID-19.

Turner, the Dodgers’ player rep, was removed to start the eighth inning of Game 6 and wasn’t on the field to celebrate the final out. But he broke protocol and reentered the field to take pictures with the World Series trophy and was seen around teammates without a mask, drawing the ire of MLB officials and rampant criticism from people throughout the country. MLB ultimately decided not to discipline him.

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Howie Kendrick retires after 15 MLB seasons

Howie Kendrick announced his retirement Monday after 15 major league seasons.

In an Instagram post, Kendrick thanked each of the teams he played for in the majors, concluding with the Washington Nationals, the team he won a World Series title with in 2019.

“To the fans, without your support and love for the game, our stage and lights would not shine as brightly as they do. Know you will be missed as well. I will always love the game of baseball and will constantly reflect on the lifelong memories made. For now, it’s time to drop the mic and enter a new stage of my life,” he wrote.

In 2019, Kendrick was the MVP of the National League Championship Series and hit the go-ahead homer in Game 7 of the World Series to help the Nationals victory the franchise’s first title.

Kendrick, 37, hit .275 with two home runs and 14 RBIs during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season for the Nationals. The team declined his $6.5 million mutual option for 2021 after the season, and he received a $2.25 million buyout from Washington.

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The veteran infielder went on the injured list with a left hamstring injury on Sept. 9 and was shut down for the season.

In four seasons with the Nats, Kendrick hit .316 with 30 home runs and 113 RBIs.

Overall, Kendrick was a career .294 hitter with 127 home runs and 724 RBIs. In addition to the Nationals, Kendrick played two seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, nine seasons with the Los Angeles Angels and 39 games with the Philadelphia Phillies in the 2017 season.

Kendrick, a Florida native, was initially drafted by the Angels with a 10th round pick in 2002. His steady production as the Angels’ regular second baseman for several seasons established him as a solidly underrated player. Kendrick’s later career saw him become a multi-position specialist and veteran bat for multiple teams.

Last season, Kendrick’s production slipped across the abbreviated 2020 season, but suffice it to say he’s securely a Nationals franchise legend for that home run above.

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Tampa Bay Rays’ Kevin Cash named AL Manager of the Year

Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash was selected American League Manager of the Year on Tuesday, receiving 22 of the 30 first-place votes.

Cash guided the Rays to a division title as well as the AL’s best regular-season record at 40-20. The Rays’ .667 win percentage was by far the best in franchise history.

Tampa Bay overcame a rash of pitching injuries to clinch the AL pennant before losing in six games to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

Cash, who turns 43 on Dec. 6, hit .183 with 12 homers and 58 RBIs in 246 major league games as a catcher for five teams, including Tampa Bay. After his playing career, he worked as an advance scout for Texas and Toronto before joining Terry Francona’s staff in Cleveland as the bullpen coach.

The Tampa, Florida, native and Florida State alum was hired as Tampa Bay manager the day before his 37th birthday. “There is a sense of pride being a Tampa guy,” stated Cash, who is 454-416 in six years as manager of the Rays.

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Tampa Bay had a $29 million prorated payroll as of Aug. 1, which ranked 28th out of 30 teams.

Still, the Rays obtained the AL East for the first time since 2010.

Cash became the second manager in Rays history to win the AL Manager of the Year award, joining Joe Maddon, who won the award in 2008 and 2011. Cash ended third in the balloting for AL Manager of the Year each of the past two seasons.

Cash was roundly criticized for pulling ace left-hander Blake Snell in the sixth inning of the decisive Game 6 of the World Series versus the Dodgers. However, the Rays leaned heavily on their bullpen throughout the pandemic-shortened season, with 12 pitchers recording at least one save — matching the major league record. Cash has insisted that if he were to face the same situation again, he would trust his bullpen to close it out.

“Yes, I would do it the same way all over again. I would plead for a different outcome, that’s for sure,” Cash said. “That decision was not reflective of my confidence in Blake. It was very reflective of my confidence in Nick [Anderson], and that’s [what] I felt was, at the moment, the best chance for us to win the game.”

Voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America concluded before the start of the playoffs. Rick Renteria of the White Sox finished second, and Charlie Montoyo of the Blue Jays finished third.

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Tampa Bay Rays take game 2 to even the series one game apiece

Through all the struggles, all the moments when it looked like he should be dropped down in the lineup or out of it altogether, Brandon Lowe believed.

He had built himself into one of the American League’s best hitters, and no slump, not even one during the playoffs, could derail that. The Tampa Bay Rays kept believing in Lowe, too. And in Game 2 of the World Series, both were rewarded handsomely for their faith.

Lowe became the first player ever to hit two opposite-field home runs in one World Series match, and the Rays’ bullpen bent but didn’t break as they held on for a 6-4 triumph Wednesday night to even the series at one game apiece.

The 26-year-old Lowe, an All-Star two years ago as a rookie and a down-ballot MVP candidate this year, had endured a brutal postseason: 6-for-56 with 19 strikeouts and not one multi-hit game among the 15 the Rays had played. And yet Tampa Bay never wavered — he sat only one game and pinch hit in it — confident that Lowe would find his swing.

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Lowe, hitting in the No. 2 hole, punished a 95 mph fastball from rookie starter Tony Gonsolin out to left field, giving the Rays an early advantage. He piled on with a two-run shot off rookie Dustin May in the fifth inning, pushing the Rays’ advantage to 5-0.

In the meantime, Rays starter Blake Snell hadn’t permitted a hit, striking out two Dodgers in each of the first four innings.

Following the fourth, Snell bounded off the mound, shouting into the expanse of Globe Life Field, to no one and everyone among the crowd of 11,472. He looked like his Cy Young-winning self, his fastball, curve ball and slider confounding a group of Dodgers hitters who in Game 1 piled up eight runs through power, patience and proficiency wielding the bat.

Lowe’s multi-homer game was the 55th in World Series history, the seventh by a second baseman and the first by a Rays player. And it continued Tampa Bay’s trend of needing home runs to score. They set a record with 28 home runs this postseason, and entering the World Series, nearly 72% of their runs had come via the longball.

The return of the Lowe who helped lead the Rays to the AL East title was a welcome sign for a Tampa Bay team whose offensive struggles were of paramount concern — particularly with the prospect of falling down 0-2 to the Dodgers. Lowe had hit .269/.362/.554 with 14 home runs in 56 games during the regular season and ranked just behind Juan Soto and Ronald Acuña Jr. in wins above replacement.

Now, after a Thursday off-day, the teams return for Game 3 with the best pitching matchup of the series: Dodgers ace Walker Buehler versus Rays stalwart Charlie Morton.

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Los Angeles Dodgers tab Clayton Kershaw to start Game 1 of World Series

Clayton Kershaw, who avoided an emergency relief appearance over the last two matches of the just-completed National League Championship Series, will start Game 1 of the World Series, the Los Angeles Dodgers announced on Monday.

Kershaw, who will be making his fifth career World Series start, will oppose Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Tyler Glasnow on Tuesday (first pitch from Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas, is 8:09 p.m. ET).

Walker Buehler, who pitched on Saturday, will be pushed back to Game 3 for the Dodgers, giving him five days of rest and still lining him up to start a potential Game 7.

The Rays have tabbed left-hander Blake Snell as their Game 2 starter, but the Dodgers are still unclear, manager Dave Roberts said. His other three starters — Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin and Julio Urias — all pitched in Sunday’s Game 7, and some might be counted on out of the bullpen in the World Series opener.

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Kershaw was initially scratched from Game 2 of the NLCS

Due to back spasms Kershaw was initially scratch but was able to recovered in time to start Thursday’s Game 4, permitting one run through the first five innings before running into trouble in the sixth.

The 32-year-old left-hander made himself available out of the bullpen for Games 6 and 7, but Roberts wanted to avoid using Kershaw in hopes of saving him for a potential World Series opener.

Cody Bellinger is expecting to play behind Kershaw even though his right shoulder popped out of its socket during an emphatic celebration with Enrique Hernandez after his game-winning home run in Sunday’s seventh inning.

The Dodgers’ center fielder said he feels “pretty good” and expects to be ready by Game 1, but Roberts said Bellinger’s shoulder was “still a little bit sore” during Monday’s optional workout.

Bellinger has experienced something similar at least three other times, he said, and Roberts said it’s more of a concern hitting than it is playing defense.

“It was an exciting time, it was pure adrenaline — a thing where you just black out,” Bellinger said of his celebration. “Obviously I wish I didn’t do it, but it was such a cool moment for me. It was just pure excitement.”

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