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PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. — After one exhibition start, Jacob deGrom has a 9.00 ERA. No worries, because all other signs are positive for one of the top pitchers in the major leagues.

“Still plenty of time to hopefully get that down,” the New York Mets ace said Sunday with a few laughs.

The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner tossed one inning and gave up Tyler White’s RBI single on a 97 mph fastball in a 10-1 loss to a split squad of Houston Astros.

DeGrom allowed two hits and threw 14 of his 17 pitches for strikes.

The 30-year-old righty made his spring training debut after posting a 1.70 ERA season. Often throttled by a lack of run support, he went 10-9 for the fourth-place Mets.

Even after such a dominant season, deGrom isn’t taking anything for granted.

“I was nervous today going out there for the first time,” the lanky pitcher said.

DeGrom said he began playing catch in October just a few weeks after the season ended, keeping his arm active by tossing the ball with his father. He has thrown regularly in the offseason, just a couple of times a week, since taking more time off after the lengthy 2015 campaign because of the World Series.

DeGrom later developed nerve damage in 2016 and had season-ending surgery in September.

“I just feel like when I play more catch and keep my arm moving it seems to feel batter when I come to spring training. If there’s no break, maybe it will stay the same,” he said.

DeGrom had a few obstacles a year ago that prevented him from getting the opening day nod from manager Mickey Callaway. DeGrom left camp to be with his wife for the birth of their daughter and then battled back stiffness after his return, delaying his progress even further.

Good friend Noah Syndergaard made the start instead of him and beat St. Louis in the opener.

DeGrom said his goal this year is to work on consistency and limit the running game better.

“I want to try and eliminate those starts that got out of hand. It’s a little bit easier said than done,” said deGrom, who allowed a leadoff double to Tony Kemp.

“I’m trying to keep the focus on the pitch I’m about to throw, not the pitch I’ve just thrown that was a homer or whatever happened,” he said. “I was a little bit frustrated today. I felt like I made a pretty good pitch to Kemp there, a high fastball that he got to. That’s frustrating. But it’s constantly learning to try and let that stuff go.”

Said Callaway: “He’s poised to go out there and dominate again, in my opinion.”

New catcher Wilson Ramos caught deGrom for just the second time this spring.

“It’s an exciting moment for me because I’m trying to know him better,” Ramos said. “In the beginning of spring training, everybody wants to attack the hitter. He did it today and did it very well.”
Game notes
LF Tim Tebow nearly made a diving grab on a foul fly behind the Mets’ bullpen after a long run, but the ball popped out of his glove when he landed. The next half-inning, he hit a long fly that easily beat Kemp in left, but center fielder Myles Straw made a spectacular diving grab in the gap for the out. … Callaway called the catching position “an open competition” when it came to the backup spot and said Travis d’Arnaud needed to match up his footwork with his arm. … Callaway said pitching coach Dave Eiland has a “solid plan” for new closer Edwin Diaz in terms of spring appearances.

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HOUSTON — This American League Championship Series between the Astros and Red Sox might be one in which fans look back on a few years down the line and marvel at the star power. As Houston manager AJ Hinch said, “These are enormous names in our game.”

Check your 2018 AL Cy Young Award ballot. Three of this season’s likely top five vote-getters are here: Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole of the Astros, and Chris Sale of the Red Sox.

• ALCS presented by Google Assistant, Game 1: Saturday, 8:09 p.m. ET/7:09 CT on TBS

How about the AL Most Valuable Player Award? Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts is the favorite, but teammate J.D. Martinez and Astros third baseman Alex Bregman surely will be in the top five.
Game Date Time Matchup TV
Gm 1 Oct. 13 8:09 p.m. HOU @ BOS TBS
Gm 2 Oct. 14 7:09 p.m. HOU @ BOS TBS
Gm 3 Oct. 16 5:09 p.m. BOS @ HOU TBS
Gm 4 Oct. 17 8:39 p.m. BOS @ HOU TBS
*Gm 5 Oct. 18 8:09 p.m. BOS @ HOU TBS
*Gm 6 Oct. 20 5:09 p.m.^ HOU @ BOS TBS
*Gm 7 Oct. 21 7:39 p.m. HOU @ BOS TBS
All times ET | *- If necessary | ^- If NLCS ends before a Game 7, ALCS Game 6 starts at 8:09 p.m. ET
shop Shop for postseason gear: Astros | Red Sox
• Complete ALCS coverage

As for the hardware already on hand, the ALCS will have two previous AL MVPs (Jose Altuve and Verlander), four AL Cy Young Award winners (David Price, Rick Porcello, Verlander and Dallas Keuchel) and a World Series MVP (George Springer).

This is the larger point Hinch was making on Wednesday when he was asked about his relationship with Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who was the Astros’ bench coach during last season’s World Series title run.

• Gear up for the ALCS: Astros | Red Sox

Cool stuff, for sure. Hinch joked he’d been trying to remember if he’d told Cora any secrets he wish he hadn’t. But he used the moment to emphasize something else.

“This series is largely about the players,” Hinch said. “Both teams have really incredible players. You can name two managers, and you can name a couple of coaches, but you can rattle off 15 or 20 household names in this series that baseball should be proud of.”

So to prepare ourselves for Game 1 on Saturday at Fenway Park, let’s count down the 10 biggest stars in the ALCS:

Hinch on Cora, Red Sox
Hinch on Cora, Red Sox
Oct. 10th, 2018

10. Xander Bogaerts, Red Sox SS
He was 20 when he made his much-anticipated debut five years ago. Now a veteran at 26, with a World Series ring, an All-Star appearance and two AL Silver Slugger Awards to his credit, he’s coming off his best season — 45 doubles, 23 home runs and an .883 OPS.

9. Cole, Astros RHP
Another one of Astros GM Jeff Luhnow’s smart moves, Cole has lined up as a solid No. 2 starter in baseball’s best rotation. The Astros have won 25 of his 33 starts, including a seven-inning, one-run performance in ALDS Game 2. Cole was fifth in innings in the AL and second in strikeouts, trailing only Verlander (290 to 276).

Hinch on ALCS starters
Hinch on ALCS starters
Oct. 10th, 2018

8. Carlos Correa, Astros SS
His resume includes being the No. 1 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year Award winner and a member of the 2017 AL All-Star team. He was the AL MVP Award frontrunner that year before missing almost two months with a torn thumb ligament. He has been slowed by a back injury this season, but he homered in the Game 3 of the AL Division Series clincher against the Indians.

Correa’s 3-run shot to right
Correa’s 3-run shot to right
Oct. 8th, 2018

7. Springer, Astros OF
He’s the spiritual leader of the Astros and has been at his best when the stakes are the highest. He’s also a World Series MVP and two-time AL All-Star. He has homered 10 times in 27 postseason games and just batted .429 in the ALDS.

Springer’s 10 postseason homers
Springer’s 10 postseason homers
Oct. 9th, 2018

6. Sale, Red Sox LHP
A seven-time All-Star, he was the frontrunner for this year’s AL Cy Young Award until being forced onto the disabled list twice in the second half with a cranky left shoulder. He looked good in two ALDS appearances against the Yankees, and Sale will start Game 1 against the Astros.

Sale’s 1-2-3 8th inning
Sale’s 1-2-3 8th inning
Oct. 9th, 2018

5. Altuve, Astros 2B
At 28, he’s on a solid Hall of Fame track with 1,419 hits, three AL batting titles, four 200-hit seasons and six All-Star appearances. He probably was headed toward a fourth batting title when a sore knee sidelined him for a month in the second half.

Altuve’s game-tying RBI in 7th
Altuve’s game-tying RBI in 7th
Oct. 8th, 2018

4. Bregman, Astros 3B
He was the defending World Series champs’ MVP in 2018 with 51 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBIs. He was also the All-Star Game MVP, and he just hit .556 with a pair of home runs against the Indians. His eighth-inning home run off Sale in Game 4 of the 2017 NLDS at Fenway Park was the biggest hit of the series.

Bregman on advancing to ALCS
Bregman on advancing to ALCS
Oct. 8th, 2018

3. Martinez, Red Sox DH
His career was reborn four years ago after being released by the Astros in Spring Training. He remade his swing and preparation, and he has averaged 37 home runs in the last four seasons. He flirted with Triple Crown numbers in 2018, finishing with 43 home runs, 130 RBIs and a .330 batting average.

Hinch on J.D.’s impact on Sox
Hinch on J.D.’s impact on Sox
Oct. 10th, 2018

2. Betts, Red Sox RF
Betts is the AL MVP frontrunner after a monstrous season in which he led the Majors with a .346 batting average and 129 runs. He’s likely to win his third Gold Glove, and despite a slow start to this postseason, he and Martinez will be the opposing hitters the Astros fear the most.

Betts on heading to ALCS
Betts on heading to ALCS
Oct. 10th, 2018

1. Verlander, Astros RHP
His Hall of Fame ticket is already punched, and helping the Astros win the World Series in 2017 might have been the final punctuation mark. In 14 seasons, he has filled out almost every line of a Hall of Fame resume, and at 35, is coming off one of his most dominant seasons: 214 innings, 290 strikeouts and a 2.52 ERA. In 45 starts and one relief appearance for the Astros, including the postseason, he’s 26-10 with a 2.33 ERA.

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LOS ANGELES — Houston Astros manager A.J. Hinch said he began Sunday’s highly anticipated meeting by turning to Roberto Osuna and briefly addressing him in front of the team. He wanted to tell him how lucky he was to “join this culture, this clubhouse, this collection of guys that are sitting around in the room that I believe are second to none.”

Then he gave Osuna the floor for what amounted to roughly 10 minutes.

According to players in the closed-door meeting, Osuna apologized for the distraction his domestic assault charge has caused. He told his new teammates how grateful he is to get another opportunity to pitch and to do so with the defending World Series champions. He declined to provide specifics about the incident that prompted a 75-game suspension under Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy, a stance he maintained during a 25-minute interview inside Dodger Stadium’s visiting dugout shortly thereafter.

“Not right now,” Osuna said, in Spanish, when asked to provide specifics about what led to his May 8 arrest in Toronto, citing an ongoing legal matter.

Osuna faces a Sept. 5 court date. His attorney, Domenic Basile, has entered a not guilty plea on Osuna’s behalf and is reportedly seeking a peace bond that would essentially drop the charges in exchange for good behavior.
The Astros’ Roberto Osuna said Sunday that he is “very happy to be able to play baseball again” and that he feels like part of the team as he returns from a 75-game domestic violence suspension. AP Photo/Kyusung Gong
Asked if he is hopeful this situation will resolve itself quickly, Osuna said: “The important thing is that it resolves itself in the best way possible. I would like for it to be resolved quickly, but whatever amount is necessary, as long as everything turns out well for all parties involved.”

The Astros acquired Osuna on Monday in exchange for three pitchers — most notably former closer Ken Giles — and will eventually turn to him in the ninth inning. The 23-year-old Mexican right-hander finished serving his suspension on Sunday morning and was added to the active roster, with starting pitcher Lance McCullers placed on the 10-day disabled list while he gets his pitching elbow examined.

Osuna said he was “not surprised” that the Toronto Blue Jays let him ago, adding: “I was very happy when I found out I had been traded to the Astros.” His new teammates “treated me well,” Osuna said in Spanish. “I felt like part of the team.”

As for what these past few months have been like?

“I’m just trying to take the positives out of this,” Osuna said. “I’ve prepared myself well in all this time that I’ve been inactive, and I’m very happy to be able to play baseball again.”

Owner Jim Crane and general manager Jeff Luhnow met with the team separately on Saturday. They wanted to go over the background checks they conducted on Osuna and explain why they felt comfortable bringing him in. Luhnow came away believing his players were “appreciative” of the chat.

“It was not an easy decision for us to come to as an organization,” Luhnow said, “but based on all the information that we have, we believe Roberto deserves a second chance. Jim and I both communicated that to the players. Each player’s going to have to make up his own mind over time. I believe Roberto has gotten off to a good start. He met everybody today. And I think that our clubhouse is going to give him a chance to be part of this team, to help us win.”

Luhnow added that he is “not worried” about the Osuna acquisition “fragmenting the clubhouse,” a sentiment his players and his manager were adamant on throughout the weekend.


Astros’ McCullers to DL with elbow discomfort
Houston Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with right elbow discomfort, the team announced Sunday.

Luhnow, who was born and raised in Mexico City and has followed Osuna since he was a teenage phenom in his home country, brought up the possibility of Osuna talking to minor leaguers about his experience and getting involved in community work in Houston. Osuna said he would do whatever he is asked.

“While there’s been a lot of negativity around it,” Luhnow said, “I do ultimately believe that over the long haul, we can turn this into a very positive event for our team, for Roberto personally, for everybody else that was affected and for the community of Houston and our fan base.”

Luhnow hedged when asked if he was able to uncover details about the pending legal matter, saying that “due process is warranted” and that the club is “going to let it play out.”

As part of a 346-word statement issued Sunday, the Astros said the decision to acquire Osuna “was based on the entirety of information that we gathered during our extensive evaluation. That included as much information as we could gather about the specific incident and the charges that were filed, but it also included as much information as we could gather about his actions before and after the incident, as well as his personal reputation among his former teammates and coaches.”

Hinch met with Osuna one-on-one for close to 15 minutes before Osuna addressed the team. Hinch told him what he heard about him through John Gibbons, his manager with the Blue Jays, and some of his former teammates. He told him “to be himself,” as he says to everyone, and he told him he was “going to have to go through a lot of firsts.”

The Astros say they don’t know the details of what took place between Osuna and the alleged victim, which creates its share of challenges.

“We really don’t know what to think or what to say or what to do and how to absorb all of this,” Hinch said. “But it’s right in front of us, and we will do our best as a team and as a family and a group to help him navigate through this, to help ourselves to navigate through this. My hope for him is that he does take some of this culture, this vibe and the character on our team and absorb it to himself.”

“While there’s been a lot of negativity around it, I do ultimately believe that over the long haul, we can turn this into a very positive event for our team, for Roberto personally, for everybody else that was affected and for the community of Houston and our fan base.”
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow
On the field, Osuna addresses what might be the only vulnerability on an Astros team that entered Sunday’s game in first place with a 71-41 record. An All-Star in 2017, Osuna sports a 2.87 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, a 6.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio and 104 career saves. Just as appealing is that he is controllable through 2021 and should come at a relatively cheap price.

Astros third baseman Alex Bregman said “everyone was locked in and listening” when Osuna addressed the team. He brought up his father being a defense attorney, saying: “Until you’re proven guilty of something, you’re innocent as far as I’m concerned. I definitely believe in second chances. That’s all I’m really going to say about this.”

Fellow reliever Collin McHugh, the team’s representative with the Major League Baseball Players Association, introduced himself to Osuna on Sunday and offered support.

“I don’t think anybody’s comfortable with the situation,” McHugh later told the media. “I don’t think anybody in baseball is comfortable with this situation. There’s a lot of ongoing things. There’s things that are happening. Nobody in this clubhouse is going to condone anything that’s happened off the field. But at the same time, he’s a Houston Astro now. And we take him being a Houston Astro very seriously.”

Osuna missed games last season due to bouts with anxiety, an issue he spoke about publicly. He earned the respect of his teammates in Toronto for the way he handled those demons, for the way he overcame his impoverished upbringing and for the way he was able to separate pitching from whatever was happening off the field.

The domestic assault allegation he faces has created a complex dilemma, because of both the unknowns and the potential severity. The Astros are still working through how to take it all in.

“Make no bones about it: Domestic violence allegations are bad,” Hinch said. “Domestic violence is bad. All of us as humans know that and believe that. And so we have to figure out a way to separate those feelings versus the additional opportunity he is getting on our club.”

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Houston Astros keep finding ways to win, while the Kansas City Royals keep inventing ways to lose.

Carlos Correa and the Astros won their 11th straight game, finishing off a dominant 10-0 road trip by rallying past the Royals 7-4 on Sunday.

The World Series champion Astros swept their swing through Texas, Oakland and Kansas City, outscoring opponents 74-35.

Last season, Houston had an 11-game winning streak end in Kansas City. This time, the Astros trailed 4-3 in the eighth when Correa led off the inning with a tying homer.

“We just have a great team. It’s hard to find any holes on this team. I don’t think there are any,” Correa said.

Correa has three home runs and eight RBIs in six games after missing four games with discomfort in his right side. He had a first-inning single and added a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Evan Gattis hit .366 with five home runs and 19 RBIs on the Astros’ trip. He singled home Yuli Gurriel in the eighth to put the Astros ahead, and Marwin Gonzalez added an RBI single in the inning.

“I take confidence in our lineup versus anybody,” Gattis said.
The Astros have plenty to celebrate after beating the Royals on Sunday for their 11th straight win, including a perfect 10-0 road trip. Ed Zurga/Getty Images
The Astros’ 11-game winning, which is one shy of their franchise record, is also tied for the fifth-longest win streak by a defending World Series champion team in the past 80 seasons, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Houston’s perfect 10-game road trip marks just the sixth time in the past 65 seasons that a team has completed a perfect road trip of 10 or more games. It happened last year during the Cleveland Indians’ 22-game win streak, but before that, it hadn’t happened since 2002, according to Elias.

The Royals have lost six straight and 12 of 13 games. They have dropped 26 of 36 home games.

Brandon Maurer (0-3) took the loss, facing two batters who both scored. Tony Sipp (2-0) picked up the victory. Hector Rondon closed for his fourth save.

Astros right-hander Lance McCullers struck out nine over six innings, allowing two unearned runs.

“I didn’t want to blow it,” McCullers said of the winning streak.

Royals right-hander Brad Keller, a Rule 5 draft pick making his fourth start, gave up three runs in six innings.

“I felt like I did pretty well,” Keller said. “That’s a good-hitting team and they got pop, so to keep them on the ground, I’m happy with that.”

Third baseman Alex Bregman’s errant throw home with the bases loaded led to the Royals scoring two unearned runs in the first to tie it at 2. Hunter Dozier hit a two-run homer in the third to give the Royals a 4-2 lead.

Brian McCann’s two-out single in the fourth scored Gattis to reduce the Royals’ lead to one.