Texas Watch: Rangers win, remain three games ahead

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Texas Watch: Rangers win, remain three games ahead

CLEVELAND (AP) Jurickson Profar took his major league debut in stride. To the highly touted 19-year-old for the Texas Rangers, he was just playing another game of baseball with a new group of teammates.Profar hit a home run in his first at-bat and doubled the next time up Sunday as Texas thumped the Cleveland Indians 8-3."I guess it's a pretty big thing," a smiling Profar said, his hair and neck covered in shaving cream from a celebratory "pie" administered by teammate Elvis Andrus."I was just a little bit nervous, but I'm with a lot of great players, so I just went out and played," he said.Profar was a late substitute after second baseman Ian Kinsler was scratched with a stiff back. Profar opened the third inning with a drive over the right-field wall, connecting on a 2-1 pitch from Zach McAllister (5-6)."I was thinking, Go, go, go, go,' after I hit it," said Profar, who got the souvenir ball back.Profar doubled in his next at-bat, then was late to hit in the fifth. With Luis Martinez on first with a single, Profar wasn't even in the on-deck circle. Suddenly, he grabbed a bat, ran to the plate and flied out on the second pitch."Mother Nature called," Texas manager Ron Washington said. "He got a couple hits and maybe his stomach realized what was happening."Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre and David Murphy all hit solo home runs in the Texas fifth.Derek Holland (10-6) gave up two runs over seven innings as the AL West-leading Rangers took two of three in the series. Texas matched its best record through 133 games, having also gone 79-54 in 1999."Texas is probably the best team in baseball, period," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "The guy hitting ninth today (Profar) could be in the middle of the order for most teams. And how do you get the ball through the infield with the guys they have playing there? They should go very deep, if not back to the World Series, again this year."Cleveland dropped to 6-29 since July 27.Profar went 2 for 4 as the first player born in 1993 to play in the majors. He became the youngest major leaguer to hit a homer since current teammate Adrian Beltre did it in 1998 for the Los Angeles Dodgers, also at age 19."It was a special day for a special kid," Washington said. "This kid is blessed. He's got a bright future, but let's not put him in the Hall of Fame yet."He's already in the Rangers' record book as the first player to homer his first time up in a Texas uniform. The last player to do it in franchise history was Brant Alyea for the Washington Senators in 1965. The Senators moved to Texas in 1972.Profar is the third-youngest player in Rangers history behind pitchers David Clyde and Wilson Alvarez. He hit .281 with 14 homers and 62 RBIs at Double-A Frisco and homered in the Futures Game in July in Kansas City during All-Star week."This kid is not afraid," Washington said, who talked to Profar when Kinsler came up ailing."He asked me how many games I have played at second base," said Profar, who has played more at shortstop. "I told him and he said, OK, you're in the game, playing second.'"I was kind of shocked, but I was also ready for it."Andrus had three hits. He has hit in all 29 of his career games against Cleveland.After Profar's homer, the Rangers sent seven more batters to the plate in the third. Nelson Cruz had an RBI double and Murphy a two-run single to make it 4-0.Carlos Santana's two-run homer, his 14th, got Cleveland within 4-2 in the bottom half.Thomas Neal got his first hit, an RBI double in the eighth in his debut for Cleveland to make it 8-3.Hamilton lined the first pitch of the fifth into the seats in right for his 37th homer. Beltre followed with his 27th - and eighth in 11 games. It was the third time this year the duo homered in consecutive at-bats. One out later, Murphy hit his 13th."That's what we needed," Washington said. "We had to break out and show our authority. We did it the way we are capable.Holland won his third straight start. The left-hander also moved to 3-0 with a 2.25 ERA in five career starts against Cleveland.McAllister gave up 11 hits and seven runs over five innings, falling to 1-4 with a 6.08 ERA over his last seven starts. Cleveland's starting staff has a 6.55 ERA, worst in the majors in the second half - the biggest reason for the Indians' 12-37 record since the All-Star break.NOTES: Profar is the third teenager to homer in his first at-bat, joining the Giants' Whitey Lockman in 1945 and Reds' Ted Tappe in 1950, the Elias Sports Bureau said. ... Washington's 506th win tied Johnny Oates for second in Rangers history behind Bobby Valentine (581). ... Texas is 50-36 all-time at Progressive Field, the second-highest winning percentage (.581) of any team. The New York Yankees are at .633 and Cleveland is .553. ... Texas begins a four-game series Monday in Kansas City. RHP Yu Darvish (13-9) faces Royals LHP Bruce Chen (10-10).

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

A’s agree to terms with Gray, Hendriks and Vogt to avoid arbitration

The Oakland A’s avoided arbitration with right-handed pitchers Sonny Gray and Liam Hendriks and catcher Stephen Vogt when they agreed to terms on one-year contracts for the 2017 season, the club announced today.

Gray went 5-11 with a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts last year in a season shortened by two stints on the disabled list.  His ERA was more than 2½ runs higher than his previous career high and his five wins follow back-to-back 14-win seasons.  Gray went 33-20 with a 2.88 ERA 76 games over his first three seasons with the A’s and now has a 3.42 ERA in his career, which ranks ninth in Oakland history.

Hendriks compiled a 3.76 ERA and .270 opponents batting average in 53 relief appearances in his first season with the A’s.  He had an 8.27 ERA and .394 opponents batting average in 11 games before going on the disabled list in early May with a strained right triceps.  Hendriks then logged a 2.23 ERA and .222 opponents batting average in 42 games following his return from the DL.

Vogt played in a career-high 137 games last year and hit .251 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI.  He also had career bests with 123 hits, 30 doubles and 46 extra base hits.  Vogt was named to his second consecutive American League All-Star team.

The only remaining arbitration eligible player on the A’s roster is Khris Davis.

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Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

Mariners swing pair of trades, bolster rotation with addition of Smyly

SEATTLE -- Jerry Dipoto's 11th trade this offseason rounded out the Seattle Mariners roster with his top target.

"I've probably spent more time through the course of our offseason trying to acquire Drew Smyly than any other thing that we've done," the general manager said Wednesday.

Seattle made pair of deals on Wednesday that ultimately landed Smyly, a pitcher Dipoto thinks will fill out the Mariners starting rotation. Seattle also landed a potential key reliever, getting right-hander Shae Simmons from the Atlanta Braves.

The Mariners acquired outfielder Mallex Smith from Atlanta, then sent him to Tampa Bay along with infielder Carlos Vargas and left-hander Ryan Yarbrough for Smyly. Smith was also an offseason target for the Mariners but when Seattle acquired Jarrod Dyson from Kansas City last week, Smith instead became the conduit in helping to obtain Smyly.

"It became apparent to us over the last two or three days that we were able to access Drew Smyly by making the deal with Atlanta that tapped into Mallex Smith," Dipoto said. "So effectively these were two deals that were interlinked."

Smyly is the centerpiece of what Seattle was trying to accomplish as the Mariners seem to have rounded out a starting rotation that appeared to be a major question at the start of the year. The acquisitions of Smyly and Yovani Gallardo from Baltimore last week appear to have filled out a rotation where Felix HernandezHisashi Iwakuma and James Paxton were the only certainties.

Smyly, 27, made 30 starts last season for Tampa Bay, throwing a career-high 175 1/3 innings and striking out 167. He was 7-12 with a 4.88 ERA, but starting pitching is one of Tampa Bay's strongest assets, and Rays senior vice president of baseball operations and general manager Erik Neander felt comfortable making the deal because of the depth the Rays have in that area.

Smyly was 15-15 with a 3.95 ERA in 49 starts for Tampa Bay after being acquired from Detroit in the 2014 trade deadline deal that sent David Price to the Tigers. He is arbitration eligible after winning $3.75 million in an arbitration hearing last season.

"He fits our ballpark particularly well. He's a pretty extreme fly-ball pitcher with the low walks, high strikeouts, who in our ballpark, with what we think is a greatly improved outfield defense fits us like a glove really," Dipoto said. "If as we expect he shows up and does his thing it should fit very well for us in this ballpark."

What Smith may be able to add was attractive to Neander, who said the trade was made to help position the Rays to be competitive in 2017. He stopped short of saying he expects Smith to make the team coming out of spring training.

"We need to get better," Neander said. "To do that, we need more competition" for jobs.

Simmons is also a key acquisition for Seattle, providing another power arm in the bullpen. Simmons, 26, made seven appearances last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and threw just 6 2/3 big league innings. Before elbow issues, Simmons was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 26 appearances during the 2014 season.

"He's had a strong history with striking (batters) out and (we're) really excited to plug him in," Dipoto said.

The cost for Seattle to complete to two deals meant giving up two of its top pitching prospects in Yarbrough and Luiz Gohara. Yarbrough, 25, was named the Southern League pitcher of the year after going 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA at Double-A Jackson last season. Gohara, 20, was 7-2 with a 1.81 ERA and 81 strikeouts in 13 starts at two Class A stops.

Seattle also sent lefty Thomas Burrows to Atlanta and designated right-hander Cody Martin for assignment to make room on its 40-man roster.