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21.12.2018 09:48
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SAN DIEGO (AP) — Robinson Chirinos and the Rangers broke through in the sixth inning [url=][/url] , and the bullpen made that lead stand on a long work night for Texas’ relievers.Chirinos hit a three-run double and Isiah Kiner-Falefa followed with a pinch-hit RBI double during a five-run sixth inning to help the Rangers beat the San Diego Padres 6-3 on Saturday night.“That was a big two-out double by Robinson and then Isiah’s double put the distance between us where we could use our bullpen” manager Jeff Banister said.San Diego led 3-1 prior to the big inning. The Padres fell to 59-90, losing 90 games for the third straight season.The Rangers sent 10 to the plate in the sixth mostly against the bullpen after a solid five-inning start by Eric Lauer. The left-hander was charged with two runs, including one in the sixth after allowing Elvis Andrus‘ leadoff single.After Trey Wingenter walked Adrian Beltre, Jose Castillo (2-3) allowed a single to Jurickson Profar, RBI doubles to Chirinos and Kiner-Falefa, and a run-scoring single to Shin-Soo Choo.“It was just one of those days where (Castillo) wasn’t sharp,” Padres manager Andy Green said.The Rangers had a reliever open the game for the second straight night, with left-hander Alex Claudio getting the nod. Claudio gave way to Ariel Jurado after an inning. Things didn’t immediately go as well as the previous game, when four Rangers blanked the Padres.Eric Hosmer hit a three-run homer off Jurado (3-5) for a 3-1 lead in the third. Hosmer smacked the outside pitch the opposite way off the second deck of the Western Metal Building in left field. Before Hosmer’s 17th homer and fourth in seven games, Wil Myers walked and Franmil Reyes singled.“That was hit like a right-handed pull hitter,” Green said. “It’s really impressive.”Added Banister: “That was supposed to be up and in to Hosmer and it rode back over the plate. But that was really the only blemish on the scorecard for (Jurado).”The Padres didn’t score again against Jurado as he went four innings and surrendered six hits and two walks with three strikeouts. It was the third consecutive outing that a reliever pitched before Jurado, and for the first time, the rookie right-hander earned a victory.“He struggled with his slider tonight, but he was able to get a feel for his changeup,” Banister said.After Jurado exited, Martin Perez worked two innings [url=]Javier Baez Jersey[/url] , with Connor Sadzeck and Jose Leclerc each pitching a frame. Leclerc got his 11th save and extended his scoreless-inning streak to 18.Joey Gallo hit his team-high 39th home run for Texas and his third on the road trip for a 1-0 lead in the first.HOPE THEY KEPT THE BALLPadres shortstop Javy Guerra recorded his first major league hit in the third inning, but it wasn’t made official until about two hours later. Shortstop Andrus originally drew an error on the grounder, but it was changed to an infield hit.DRESSED FOR SAFETYPadres catcher Austin Hedges had his mask on and his glove at the ready, while sitting on the bench in the eighth inning. Moments before he donned his gear, Francisco Mejia scorched a line drive into the Padres dugout, nearly taking out Myers and Hedges.TRAINER’S ROOMRangers: RHP Chris Martin (upper-respiratory) wasn’t available Saturday and his condition will be updated Sunday.UP NEXTRangers LHP Mike Minor (12-7, 4.19) gets the start as Texas wraps its nine-game road trip. Minor has gone 3-1 in his last four starts while pitching to a 1.96 ERA. The last time he faced the Padres, Minor took a perfect game into the seventh inning before Hosmer’s single. Padres RHP Jacob Nix (2-3, 6.00) makes his first start against the Rangers and the seventh of his career. For years, we've known 2018 was likely going to be Bryce Harper's swan-song season with the Washington Nationals before a much-hyped foray into free agency.The assumption, though, was always that Harper would play out the entire '18 campaign with the Nats as they tried to finally get past the division series round and make a championship run with their franchise superstar.Now, an intriguing, unexpected question has arisen: Should Washington consider trading Harper before the July 31 non-waiver deadline?Before you scoff, let's consider some facts.The Nationals entered play Sunday with a 48-49 record. That puts them six games behind the Atlanta Braves and 6.5 games back of the Philadelphia Phillies in the National League East. They're also six games out in the wild-card race with seven teams ahead of them.None of those deficits are insurmountable. The Phillies and Braves are young clubs blossoming ahead of schedule and could wilt under the glare of the pennant race.The Nationals certainly have talent. Their rotation is fronted by Max Scherzer, who's on track to win a fourth career Cy Young Award. Speedy shortstop Trea Turner (12 homers [url=]Kyle Schwarber Jersey[/url] , 22 stolen bases), third baseman Anthony Rendon (15 homers, .872 OPS) and young left fielder Juan Soto (10 homers, .944 OPS) form the foundation of a solid offensive supporting cast.Jennifer Stewart/Getty ImagesAt the same time, second baseman Daniel Murphy, right-hander Stephen Strasburg, first baseman Ryan Zimmerman and catcher Matt Wieters have all lost significant stretches to injury.There's an argument in favor of the Nats being buyers at the deadline, adding a bullpen piece and maybe another bat and trying for a stretch-run surge. They already acquired late-inning reliever Kelvin Herrera from the Kansas City Royals in June.If they try and fail, however, they could watch Harper walk away for nothing. If they trade him now, they'd get a head start building for the post-Harper future.This is where we mention Manny Machado, another impending free-agent superstar whose career accomplishments hew closely to Harper's.Harper is 25. Machado turned 26 on July 6. Prior to 2018, each player had logged six big league seasons. Over that span, Harper compiled27.3 fWAR; Machado's totalwas 23.8.Recently, the Baltimore Orioles traded Machado to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a package of five MiLB chips headlined by powerful outfielder Yusniel Diaz, who immediately became the Orioles' No. 2 prospect [url=][/url] , per O's also netted bat-missing right-hander Dean Kremer and third baseman Rylan Bannon, who'd hit 20 homers at High-A this season. Toss in right-hander Zach Pop and infielder Breyvic Valera, both of whom have upside, and you have a nice haul for a few months of Machado.The Nats were surely paying attention.Rob Carr/Getty ImagesThere are a couple key differences between the Machado trade and a speculative Harper swap.First, the Orioles are buried in last place in the American League East and clearly need to shift into rebuild mode. Trading their superstar was a no-brainer. Second, Machado is having an unambiguously excellent season, while Harper's stat sheet is muddled.The Nats right fielder has clubbed 23 homers and leads the Senior Circuit with 78 walks. He's also hitting a scant .215.There are reasons for optimism. Harper's .229 batting average on balls in play is well below his career mark of .314. Meanwhile, his hard-contact rate of 40.8 percent is above his career average of 35.0 percent. That suggests a lot of loud, unlucky outs.To put it another way: The last time Harper finished the season with a hard-contact rate above 40.0 percent was in 2015, when he won the NL MVP Award."I was standing in the shower yesterday, and I'm like, 'Man, my body feels great,'" Harper said in June, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. "Seriously. I'm strong. I work out every day. I haven't lost any weight, and I feel stronger than ever. When I barrel a ball up [url=]Kris Bryant Jersey[/url] , I hit it hard."If the Nationals made Harper available, surely prospective suitors would look past the low batting average, check the peripherals, add in the pop and pedigree and open the prospect vault.We could start rattling off contenders who could use Harper's power and brash infusion of energy, but it's basically as long as the list of contenders.Gene J. Puskar/Associated PressCBS Sports' Mike Axisa posited two things that would have to happen for the Nationals to consider moving Harper: First, they fall out of the race completely; second, they determine it would be impossible to sign Harper to a pre-free-agency extension.That seems right. If they keep their heads above water between now and July 31, the chances of Harper leaving D.C. before the winter are slim to none. As for the extension, well, that seems unlikely no matter what.Even a modest winning streak over the next week could give the Nationals enough hope to go all-in. It would probably take a nose-dive losing streak to shift their thinking in the other direction.Of course, the question of whether the Nats will move Harper isn't the same as whether they should.To the first, the answer is probably "no."To the second, it's a lot closer to "yes" than anyone expected this spring. All statistics current as of Sunday and courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.

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