Report: Damon, Ramirez sign with Rays

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Report: Damon, Ramirez sign with Rays

Associated Press

Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon are about to become teammates again, this time in Tampa Bay.Both free-agent outfielders agreed toone-year contracts with the Rays, a person familiar with thenegotiations told The Associated Press on Friday night. The personspoke on condition of anonymity because the agreements were subject tophysicals and had not been announced.Damon gets 5.25 million and thechance to earn 750,000 in bonuses based on attendance, the personsaid. Ramirez gets 2 million.The moves mark the first majoradditions for the AL East champions after a devastating offseason inwhich one prominent player after another left cost-cutting Tampa Bay.Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena and RafaelSoriano signed elsewhere as free agents. Matt Garza and Jason Bartlettwere traded. A strong bullpen was depleted by the losses of JoaquinBenoit, Grant Balfour, Dan Wheeler, Randy Choate and Chad Qualls.Ramirez and Damon played together forfour years in Boston and helped lead the Red Sox to the 2004 WorldSeries title - ending the team's 86-year championship drought. Bothcolorful characters are well past their primes, but if nothing elsethey could at least provide an attraction at Tropicana Field for a Raysteam that drew just 1.86 million fans last year.The 38-year-old Ramirez began lastseason with the Los Angeles Dodgers, then was claimed on waivers latein the summer by the Chicago White Sox. He hit a combined .298 withnine homers and 42 RBIs in the final season of a 45 million, two-yearcontract he signed with the Dodgers.Hampered by injuries, the longtimeslugger had 320 plate appearances in 90 games. Still a power threat, helikely will be a designated hitter for the Rays.Ramirez's career took a downward turn in May 2009 when he was suspended 50 games for using a banned female fertility drug.The 12-time All-Star has 555 homeruns, good for 14th on the career list, and 1,830 RBIs, which ranks18th. He also helped Boston win the 2007 World Series, then was tradedto the Dodgers the following season.The 37-year-old Damon spent lastseason with the Detroit Tigers, batting .271 with eight homers and 51RBIs, mostly as a DH. Weak-armed in left field and no longer the stolenbase threat he once was, Damon remains very durable - he played 145games last year and hit 36 doubles in 539 at-bats.Damon, who is from nearby Orlando,can pad his paycheck by making a difference at the gate. He would get150,000 each for 1.75 million, 1.85 million, 1.95 million, 2.05million and 2.15 million in home attendance.A two-time All-Star, Damon spentfour years with the New York Yankees and helped them win the 2009 WorldSeries. They let him leave as a free agent and he signed an 8 million,one-year deal with Detroit.

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

Weird umpire replay mistake helps Red Sox to record-tying 20 Ks

BOSTON -- New York’s mistake helped the Red Sox, and they weren’t playing the Yankees.

The Red Sox struck out 20 in a game for the third time in franchise history on Thursday night, and they were able to do so only after MLB’s replay team — based in Manhattan — gave Craig Kimbrel an extra batter to strike out in the ninth inning.

A 6-2 win over the Rangers featured 16 strikeouts for Red Sox pitching heading into the top of the ninth at Fenway Park. Kimbrel came on for a non-save situation because he had five days off previously.

There’s always that outside chance for a four-strikeout inning, and it happened. Even for a four-strikeout inning, however, this was bizarre.

The first batter, left-handed hitting Nomar Mazara, swung and missed at a back-foot breaking ball for strike three — a literal back-foot breaking ball, because it hit him in that foot after he whiffed on the pitch.

On a swing and a miss with a pitch that hits the batter, the ball should be dead. He should not have been able to reach first base. But the umpires didn’t catch the ball hitting Mazara, and instead saw it as a wild pitch. 

Sox manager John Farrell asked for a review and the umpires went for one, but came back empty-handed. The crew was told, erroneously, that the play could not be looked at and the batter was awarded first base.

“It was just a swinging strike three, ball that go away and he obviously reached first base,” crew chief Alfonso Marquez told pool reporter Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. “The only thing that I can tell you, and the only thing I will say is, this was a replay issue. New York will come out with a statement.”

You could say it worked out just fine. Kimbrel went on to strike out the next three, and got the Sox to 20 Ks.

Kimbrel and Tim Wakefield are the only Red Sox pitchers to fan four batters in a single inning. Wakefield did it in the ninth inning on Aug. 10, 1999. 

Kimbrel did it once before as well, when he was with the Braves on Sept. 26, 2012.

No one has struck out five in a major league inning, although Kimbrel has as good a chance as anyone.

“The guy strikes out the world,” Matt Barnes said. “It’s ridiculous. … His fastball is seemingly unhittable. Complement that with the breaking ball he’s got, which comes right off that same plane, when he’s commanding it like he is, the numbers kind of speak for themselves. It’s kind of ridiculous. It’s fun to watch.”

The Sox have struck out 20 in a nine-inning game three times since 1913. Roger Clemens' two 20-strikeout games are the other two.

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

Red Sox tie strikeout record in completing sweep of Rangers, 6-2

BOSTON (AP) There's something about Boston Red Sox pitchers and 20-strikeout games.

There have been six major-league games with that many strikeouts and the Red Sox made the list for the third time, fanning that many Texas Rangers for a 6-2 victory Thursday night and a sweep of the three-game series.

Five Boston pitchers combined on the 20 strikeouts with starter Drew Pomeranz getting 11 in six innings and closer Craig Kimbrel getting four in the ninth when the leadoff batter reached on a wild pitch strike three. Boston's Roger Clemens twice reached 20 strikeouts by himself.

"His stuff is nasty. What he is doing right now I have never seen anything like that," Red Sox reliever Matt Barnes said of Kimbrel.

Kimbrel has retired 53 of the last 56 batters he has faced and right-handed hitters are on an 0-for-41 streak.

Xander Bogaerts and Deven Marrero hit their first home runs of the season helping Boston to its fourth straight win.

"A lot has been made about our home run totals or lack thereof," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "Tonight was the first of what should be many more."

Pomeranz (4-3), who tied his career high with the 11 strikeouts, made it as far as six innings for the third time this season and beat Texas for the first time in nine career outings.

"Felt lost for a couple of starts and wasn't satisfied," said Pomeranz, who gave up four hits and walked one. "Tonight I felt more like last year."

Elvis Andrus homered and Nomar Mazara had two hits and an RBI for Texas, which has lost four of five overall and 15 of 21 on the road.

"The sweep is surprising," Andrus said. "But that's the beauty of baseball, I guess. You cannot take any team for granted. Even when you feel you're playing at your best, stuff like this can happen."

Andrew Benintendi and Mitch Moreland had RBI singles in the first inning as Boston got to Rangers starter Nick Martinez (1-3) early.

Bogaerts hit a two-run homer in the third to put Boston ahead 4-0. Despite finishing with 21 home runs last year, Bogaerts needed 46 games to connect for the first time this season.

"Good to get one over the wall and get it out of the way," Bogaerts said.

Mike Napoli struck out four times while Pete Kozma and Andrus went down three times each. Every Ranger starter struck out at least once.

"Pomeranz was throwing well," Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. "Obviously their bullpen came in and threw well also and they played better than we did overall tonight."

Marrero homered in the eighth off Alex Claudio.

Martinez gave up four runs in five innings and is winless in four starts against Boston with a 6.46 ERA.

Andrus cut Boston's lead to 4-1 in the fourth inning with the homer, snapping an 0-for-9 drought.

Moreland tied his career high by driving in at least one run for the sixth straight game and extended his hitting streak to seven games, batting .393 in that stretch.

Boston swept Texas for the first time at Fenway Park since 2008. Since 2009, Texas has the best winning percentage at Fenway Park in the major leagues at .600.

STRIKING SUCCESS

Pomeranz recorded his 500th career strikeout when he whiffed Napoli for the final out of the fourth inning, his eighth of the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Rangers: 3B Adrian Beltre will play in extended spring training games in Arizona the next three days after being sidelined all season with a calf strain.

Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was removed from the game after five innings for precautionary reasons due to left knee pain. He is listed as day to day. ... LHP David Price will make his season debut Monday in Chicago against the White Sox despite surrendering six earned runs in 5 2/3 innings over his last two rehab starts. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 13 in four rehab games.

UP NEXT:

Rangers: Will send RHP A.J. Griffin (4-1) in the opener at Toronto.

Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (3-1) looks to win his fourth straight decision when they entertain Seattle on Friday.