Framber Valdez & Three Houston Astros Relievers Tie MLB Record for Strikeouts in Nine-Inning Game

Framber Valdez has earned a place in Major League Baseball history…

The 28-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher and three Houston Astros relievers tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game, as the Astros won 4-2 for a sweep on Sunday of the Los Angeles Angels.

Framber ValdezTwelve different Los Angeles batters came to the plate and all of them struck out at least once. 

Valdez struck out a career-high 13 in six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and five walks. Relievers Hector Neris and Rafael Montero each struck out two in scoreless innings and Ryan Pressly (2-2) fanned three in the ninth.

“It’s something that is very emotional and very exciting for me,” Valdez said through a translator after the game. “It’s very special to be a part of that.”

Astros manager Dusty Baker concurred.

“It’s very impressive. He was throwing strikes,” Baker said referring to Valdez, and when asked about the team total of 20, he simply replied, “Boy, that’s a lot.”

The 20 strikeouts is the most in a nine-inning game in Astros franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. There had been several occasions where other teams struck out 20, including performances by Max Scherzer, Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood. The Astros’ previous record was 18 in 1964 against Cincinnati.

Houston pitchers fanned 47 in the series against the Angels.

Anthony Ramos to Compete in MLB’s All-Star Celebrity Softball Game

Anthony Ramos is stepping up to the plate…

The 30-year-old Puerto Rican Grammy-winning singer, songwriter and actor will compete in Major League Baseball’s All-Star Celebrity Softball Game.

Anthony RamosThe game will form part of the star-studded lineup of events for the MLB’s first-ever All-Star Saturday during All-Star Week at Los Angeles’s Dodger Stadium, including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert.

Ramos, who starred in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights, will compete alongside QuavoJoJo SiwaRob Lowe, CC Sabathia, Simu Liu, Chloe KimCoi Leray, Zachary Levi, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Jennie Finch, Andre Ethier, Desus Nice, The Kid Mero, The Miz, Lauren Chamberlain, Natasha WatleyLele Pons and Lisa Fernandez.

More celebrities will be announced in early July.

The All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert, All-Star Futures Game and the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game are all included with the purchase of an All-Star Saturday ticket, which are now available to purchase at AllStarGame.com.

Ticket prices currently range from $25 to $140. Gates at Dodger Stadium open at 2 p.m. on July 16 with the first 10,000 fans to receive a special All-Star souvenir giveaway.

Becky G to Perform at MLB’s All-Star Saturday Extra Innings Concert

Becky G is getting into the game…

The 25-year-old Mexican American bilingual singer, rapper and actress will perform at Major League Baseball’s MGM Rewards All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert.

Becky GBecky G’s freshly released album Esquemas, the follow-up to her debut set Mala Santa, scored the artist her first No. 1 — and first entry — on Billboard’s Latin Pop Albums. It concurrently debuted at No. 5 on Top Latin Albums. 

Becky G has won the American Music Award for Favorite Latin Female Artist two years in a row (2020 and 2021) and the E! People’s Choice Award for The Latin Artist of 2020.

Additionally, MLB revealed the rest of their star-studded lineup of events for its first-ever All-Star Saturday during All-Star Week at Los Angeles’s Dodger Stadium, including the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and the 2022 MGM Rewards All-Star Celebrity Softball Game.

The All-Star Saturday Extra Innings concert, All-Star Futures Game and the All-Star Celebrity Softball Game are all included with the purchase of an All-Star Saturday ticket, which are now available to purchase at AllStarGame.com.

Ticket prices currently range from $25 to $140. Gates at Dodger Stadium open at 2 p.m. on July 16 with the first 10,000 fans to receive a special All-Star souvenir giveaway.

Yordan Alvarez Signs Lucrative Six-Year Contract Extension with Houston Astros

Yordan Alvarez isn’t leaving Houston anytime soon…

The 24-year-old professional baseball designated hitter and outfielder, a Cuban defector who hadn’t played in any professional games in the U.S. when he was acquired, has signed a six-year contract extension with the Houston Astros that runs through the 2028 season.

Yordan Alvarez“First, I want to give thanks to [owner] Jim [Crane] and [general manager] James [Click] to give me the opportunity to be here the next six years,” Alvarez said. “It just means a lot. I’ve put a lot of work into this and to see the fruits of the labor means a lot.”

In August 2016, the Astros completed a minor trade that sent relief pitcher Josh Fields to the Los Angeles Dodgers for the unproven Minor League Baseball slugger, and it turned out to be one of the best deals in Houston franchise history.

Alvarez, moved quickly through the Astros’ system, winning AL Rookie of the Year honors in 2019.

This year, he’s in the hunt for the AL Most Valuable Player Award and is a budding star, which is why the Astros wanted to make sure to keep him in a Houston uniform for years to come.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but a source told MLB.com when the deal was first reported Friday that it is worth $115 million. Along with a $5 million signing bonus, Alvarez will receive $7 million next season, $10 million in 2024, $15 million in ’25 and $26 million each year from 2026-28.

That makes it the second-largest contract in club history, trailing only the five-year, $151 million extension Jose Altuve received in March 2018.

“Yordan is one of the most complete hitters in the game of baseball,” Click said. “His combination of plate discipline, approach, power to all fields and the ability to hit any pitch that is thrown to him make him an elite hitter at the plate. Early in his career, many talked about him as a designated hitter. But through his hard work and dedication, he has turned himself into a quality player in left field. Combined with his hitting, this makes him quite simply one of the best players in the game right now.”

Entering Monday, Alvarez was fourth in the MLB in OPS (1.105), while leading the Astros in many offensive categories, including batting average (.295), home runs (16) and RBIs (34).

He was named AL Player of the Week on Monday after hitting .565 (13-for-23) with four home runs and eight RBIs.

“He’s the best hitter I’ve ever played with,” Altuve said. “He’s amazing. He can hit the ball the other way; he hits triples, homers and he walks. What a good hitter. I’m happy about this deal. I know how hard he’s worked, and just to know we’re going to have Yordan for six more years, it means a lot.”

The Astros began talking about a possible extension with Alvarez in March and negotiations began in the middle of April, agent Dan Lozano said.

“I think the biggest part is the timing was right and we were able to come to an agreement,” Alvarez said.

After missing most of the 2020 season following a pair of knee surgeries, Alvarez hit .277 with 33 homers and 104 RBIs in his first full season in the big leagues last year. He was named the 2021 ALCS MVP, hitting .522 with a homer and six RBIs against the Red Sox.

While Alvarez has blossomed into an elite offensive player, he’s also made huge strides defensively after serving mostly as a designated hitter in his rookie season. He underwent surgeries on both knees that cost him most of the 2020 season, and he was determined to play more left field. He started only nine games in left in ’19, but he started 39 in left last year and has started 18 so far this season.

“He’s a big man, but he’s also faster than he gets credit for,” Click said. “He has the ability to chase balls down in the gaps. That’s the main thing I’ve seen for him out there. … It’s a testament to his work ethic, his dedication and his character that he’s worked himself into shape to play out there as much as he has.”

The press conference to announce the deal was attended by several of Alvarez’s teammates, including Altuve, Yuli Gurriel, Kyle Tucker, Michael Brantley, Jake Odorizzi and Aledmys Díaz. The show of support from his teammates has helped Alvarez make Houston his home for years to come.

“I feel very happy,” Alvarez said. “From the day I was called up, they gave me the opportunity and trusted in me. It felt like I was in the Majors for a while because of the trust they put in me.”

Houston Astros Acquire Mauricio Dubón from San Francisco Giants

Mauricio Dubón is preparing for an astronomical season…

The Houston Astros have acquired the 27-year-old Honduran professional baseball shortstop and center fielder in a trade with the San Francisco Giants.

Mauricio Dubón Dubón is batting .239 with two homers and eight RBIs in 21 games this season. He has big league experience at second base, third base, shortstop and center field.

“He really came together as a man, as a teammate, and as a baseball player,” Giants manager Gabe Kapler said. “This is a great opportunity for him.”

The Giants received minor league catcher Michael Papierski in the deal. Papierski was assigned to Triple-A Sacramento.

“It’s always nice to have a switch-hitter and a guy that’s more difficult to match up against,” Kapler said about Papierski. “As aggressive as we are in using our bench, it’s always nice to have, potentially at some point, a guy that you may be able to kind of let ride, particularly at the catcher position.”

San Francisco also recalled infielder Donovan Walton from Sacramento before the Giants’ game at the St. Louis Cardinals.

Dubón made his Major League Baseball debut in 2019 with the Milwaukee Brewers. He is a .258 hitter with 15 homers and 58 RBIs in 179 games in the majors.

The Astros had won 11 straight games heading into Saturday’s matchup with the Washington Nationals.

Miguel Cabrera Becomes First Venezuelan Baseball Player to Join MLB’s 3,000-Hit Club

Miguel Cabrera makes Venezuelan MLB History while joining a new elite club…

With a single against the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, the 39-year-old Venezuelan professional baseball player and Detroit Tigers designated hitter became the 33rd member of the 3,000-hit club and only the seventh player in major league history to achieve the milestone and hit 500 home runs.

Miguel CabreraHe got No. 3,000 in the first inning against pitcher Antonio Senzatela, a fellow Venezuelan, by grounding an opposite-field single to right field.

Cabrera immediately raised his right arm as he headed toward first base.

The crowd of 37,566 at Comerica Park gave him a rousing ovation and chanted “Miggy! Miggy!” while fireworks were shot out of the scoreboard. Rockies shortstop Jose Iglesias, who played with Cabrera on the Tigers team, came over to give his former teammate a big hug.

By then, all the Tigers were streaming from the dugout to greet the newest member of baseball’s elite 3,000-hit club. Moments later, Cabrera went behind home plate to embrace his mother, wife, son and daughter on the field.

“Special numbers,” Cabrera said after the game. “It’s like something crazy you can’t describe. To be in this position, I always say thank God for giving me this opportunity.”

Cabrera soon returned to first base but didn’t stay there long. He scored on a three-run homer by 22-year-old rookie Spencer Torkelson, who has taken over as the Tigers’ regular first baseman with Cabrera in the role of designated hitter.

When the inning ended, the scoreboard flashed “Congratulations Miggy” and Cabrera emerged from the dugout to wave to fans who had been rewarded with the highlight they came to see.

“It brings a lot of memories from the first time I was here in Detroit,” Cabrera said of the crowd. “I remember we always had 35,000, 40,000 people every night. It was good to see the fans come back to the stadium like that. It was very emotional. I know what the fans mean to our games and to our team because they support us a lot. I really happy to see all the fans.”

Cabrera added a two-run single in the sixth inning before being replaced by pinch runner Eric Haase. The Tigers went on to win 13-0. Cabrera said it meant “a lot” for him to reach the milestone in a win.

“Because I always say, if we’re winning, I know the results are going to be good,” he said. “We did it today, I’m pretty happy.

After reaching 2,999 hits Wednesday, Cabrera was 0-for-3 on Thursday against the New York Yankees. He was intentionally walked in the eighth inning, his fourth and final plate appearance of the game. Cabrera’s pursuit of history was delayed Friday, as the Tigers’ scheduled series opener against the Rockies was rained out, made up as part of a Saturday doubleheader.

Cabrera is the first Venezuelan-born player and seventh Latino to reach the 3,000-hit mark, a list that includes Hall of Famers Roberto Clemente and Rod Carew as well as Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Adrian Beltre and Albert Pujols. Luis Aparicio, the only Venezuelan-born player in the Hall of Fame, had 2,677 career hits.

“When you’re going through it, you’ve got to kind of try to appreciate it because his impact is so big across this organization and across so many players, that we just got to sit back and soak it up,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “And I think for him as a person, as a player who’s gone through ups, downs, everywhere in between. This is certainly a highlight.”

Cabrera, who won the Triple Crown and the first of back-to-back MVP awards in 2012, became the 28th member of the 500-home run club in August. Only six other players have 3,000 hits and 500 homers: Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Palmeiro, Pujols, Rodriguez and Eddie Murray.

Cabrera’s Triple Crown win in 2012, having led the American League in batting average, home runs and RBIs, was the first in 45 years. The 11-time MLB All-Star has won four batting titles in his career.

Cabrera was 20 years old when he made his Major League Baseball (MLB) debut with the Miami Marlins in 2003. He helped them win the World Series that year.

The Tigers acquired Cabrera in a 2007 trade, with Dontrelle Willis also going to Detroit in a deal for Andrew Miller and Cameron Maybin. Cabrera had 842 hits at the time.

He is the third player to get his 3,000th hit while with Detroit, joining Ty Cobb and Al Kaline.

Washington Nationals Star Juan Soto Hits 100th Career Home Run

He’s only 23, but Juan Soto has already joined elite Major League Baseball company…

On Tuesday night, the Dominican professional baseball outfielder for the Washington Nationals hit home run No. 100 at just 23 years old.

Juan Soto“It means a lot,” Soto said following the Nationals’ 16-4 loss to the Atlanta Braves at Truist Park. “It’s just a number that not many players get to, and it feels an honor to be there.”

Soto rocked an 89.5 mph cutter from Braves right-hander Bryce Elder a Statcast-projected 451 feet to right-center field at 112.5 mph.

The milestone dinger was the fourth-longest of his career.

“For me, it’s just a blessing,” Soto said. “It just comes to me. I never tried to hit a homer, or anything like that. I’m one of the guys who just tries to hit singles every day. So for me to become consistent hitting homers, it’s just impressive and it tells how good I’ve been working on my body and everything.”

At 23 years and 169 days, Soto is just the seventh active player to belt 100 homers at age 23 and younger, per Elias Sports Bureau.

He joined Miguel Cabrera (23 years, 127 days), Bryce Harper (23 years, 181 days), Ronald Acuña Jr. (23 years, 184 days), Albert Pujols (23 years, 185 days), Giancarlo Stanton (23 years, 221 days) and Mike Trout (23 years, 253 days).

Soto first homered in 2018, his age-19 season.

“It’s awesome,” manager Dave Martinez said. “He’s so young, and for him to get his 100th home run at this early stage in his career, he’s going to hit a lot more. I’m happy for him. He swung the bat well today, he really did.”

The milestone home run adds to Soto’s success against the team’s National League East rival. He has hit 14 dingers against the Braves in 58 games, second to only his offensive production vs. the Philadelphia Phillies (17 home runs in 60 games). He also increased his Truist Park homer total to nine, third most at any opposing stadium behind Citizens Bank Park (12) and Citi Field (10).

Jose Ramirez Agrees to Historic 5-Year, $150-Million Contract Extension with Cleveland Guardians 

Jose Ramirez is extending his time in Ohio…

The 29-year-old Dominican professional baseball player, an MLB All-Star third baseman and the Cleveland Guardians have agreed on a five-year, $124 million contract extension, according to ESPN.

Jose RamirezThe deal includes a full no-trade clause, per sources. With this year and the pickup of a 2023 option, Ramirez is guaranteed $150 million.

Cleveland set the table for this move during the offseason, picking up Ramirez’s $12 million contract option on November 5 after an MVP-caliber campaign for Ramirez. The formal transaction allowed the franchise some room for longer-term negotiations once baseball’s work stoppage ended.

The five-year, $124 million extension is the largest in franchise history, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. The Guardians had been one of five Major League Baseball teams that had never agreed to a $100 million contract with a player. The Oakland AthleticsPittsburgh PiratesKansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox are the others.

Ramirez, who has finished in the top three of the American League MVP voting three times in his career, was one of few bright spots for Cleveland’s inconsistent offense during the team’s final season with its old nickname. He hit .266 with 36 home runs, 103 RBIs and 27 steals in the final year of what was a team-friendly $26 million, four-year contract.

“I would really like to stay,” Ramirez said after Cleveland finished 80-82 last year, the club’s first losing season since 2012. “But there’s no rush. I would really like to stay here the rest of my career. But we have to wait to see what happens. I would love to see what they have to offer.”

The veteran’s future has been a hot topic during spring training in Goodyear, Arizona, and manager Terry Francona was not afraid to open up about it last month.

“I think Jose knows how we feel about him,” Francona told reporters during a March 17 media availability. “In this age of blogging and the internet, there is so much out there that we could make ourselves crazy. I hope it doesn’t make him crazy. I don’t think it does.”

Chris Antonetti, Cleveland’s president, also addressed his star infielder’s future in Arizona last month.

“Without getting into specifics, I do think we’ll have some internal conversations,” Antonetti said about the new deal. “The timing of that is really hard to say when we’ll be able to do that, just because of the compressed nature of the offseason.”

Ramirez is the only position player left from Cleveland’s 2016 pennant-winning team, which lost the World Series in seven games. He has been in the majors since 2013, spending his entire career with Cleveland. In his first season, he appeared in just 15 games, but he has topped 120 games in five seasons since — and has stayed relatively healthy.

Francona expects to use Ramirez in the No. 3 spot in the batting order this season, telling reporters last month that it was safe to “ink” him in that spot moving forward.

The Guardians will open the year Thursday against the Kansas City Royals. In that game, right-hander Shane Bieber will become the 12th pitcher in franchise history to make three consecutive Opening Day starts.

Opening Day will also see the return of Francona to regular-season action for Cleveland after missing time because of toe surgery.

“It’s been a hard couple years, there’s no getting around it,” Francona said. “And I don’t want to act like a big baby because I know there’s people that have had way worst bouts than I had. But it’s not been easy.”

Albert Pujols Returning to St. Louis Cardinals for Final Season of Career

It’s the last hurrah for Albert Pujols

The 42-year-old Dominican professional baseball first baseman and future Baseballl Hall of Famer has signed a one-year deal, reportedly worth $2.5 million, with the St. Louis Cardinals.

Albert PujolsPujols is returning to the city where he launched his Major League Baseball career back in April 2001. His goal: to help St. Louis make a run for another World Series championship.

Pujols is hoping to summon the same magic he had during his previous run with the Cardinals from 2001-11, when he produced two championships, three MVP awards and a 10-year streak of hitting at least .300 and smashing 30 or more home runs.

“For me, I think I’m here for a reason,” said Pujols, who earlier in the day emerged from beyond the right-field fence at Roger Dean Stadium and walked down the foul line to join his Cardinals teammates in the dugout in their 2-1 loss to the Astros. “They believe I can still play this game and they believe I can help this organization win a championship. And myself, I believe in that, too.”

Pujols — considered one of the greatest players in the rich history of the Cardinals, right alongside of Hall of Famers Stan Musial, Bob Gibson, Lou Brock and Ozzie Smith — rejoins the franchise at a time when catcher Yadier Molina is entering his 19th and final season, and pitcher Adam Wainwright could be about to exit as well.

Wainwright, who allowed two runs on four hits in five innings on Monday, believes Pujols will be on a mission to show he has plenty left in the tank as a hitter.

“He seems like he’s in good shape, and he’s motivated,” said Wainwright, who noted that Pujols woke him up from his pregame nap on Monday with a “bear hug.”

“Any time Albert is motivated, it’s a very, very dangerous thing,” Wainwright said. “He’s motivated to show people that he’s not too old or over the hill. I don’t think he wants this to be nostalgic; he wants to go out and prove something. That chip is a good one to put on your shoulder. It’s cool to be loved, that’s a nice thing, and nobody is more beloved than he is. But he wants to prove himself.”

Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. saw an immediate response from the addition of Pujols — he spotted a fan wearing a No. 5 jersey when he pulled into the team’s headquarters Monday morning. DeWitt Jr. called the signing “the highlight of the spring.”Top of Form

Bottom of Form

Pujols enters the season 21 home runs shy of 700 — with much of that damage coming from his historic run with the Cardinals for 11 seasons. He hit .328 and clubbed 445 home runs with the Redbirds, was named an MLB All-Star nine times and won the Gold Glove Award twice.

Pujols, who left St. Louis in 2011 to sign a 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract with the Los Angeles Angels, had emotional returns to St. Louis in recent years while playing for Anaheim and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He said the numerous standing ovations he received from Cardinals fans — both before and after homering off current Cardinal Dakota Hudson in 2019 and J.A. Happ last season — allowed him to dream again about possibly returning to St. Louis to cap his career.

“There was always hope, so you never close the door,” Pujols said. “The organization never closed the door on me, and I never closed the door, either. It’s a great opportunity. Everything always happens on God’s time, and it’s the perfect time right now. I’m back here and I’m really excited.”

Alex Colomé Agrees to One-Year Deal with Colorado Rockies

Alex Colomé has a new deal…

The 33-year-old Dominican professional baseball pitcher has agreed to a one-year deal with the Colorado Rockies, according to The Associated Press. The contract will become official when Colome passes a physical.

Alex Colomé The deal for the reliever is reportedly worth $1.25 million.

Daniel Bard and Carlos Estevez combined for 31 of the Rockies’ 33 total saves in 2021, though Colome’s more established track record as a closer could make him the top ninth-inning choice for the Rox next year.

Bard and Estevez could be moved back into set-up roles, or manager Bud Black could simply take a committee approach with his closer’s role.

Colome, who made his Major League Baseball debut in May 2013, is coming off a season in which he saved 17 games for the Minnesota Twins.

He led the league with 47 saves in 2017 while with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Colome also played for the Seattle Mariners and Chicago White Sox.