Cubs

Jamie Moyer, 49, makes baseball history

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Jamie Moyer, 49, makes baseball history

From Comcast SportsNetDENVER (AP) -- Baseball's old man is still fending off Father Time.Jamie Moyer showed there remains a place for a vintage lefty in a young man's game as the 49-year-old became the oldest pitcher to ever win a major league contest.He threw seven strong innings and Dexter Fowler hit a two-run homer to help the Colorado Rockies beat the San Diego Padres 5-3 on Tuesday night."It's a great night for the Rockies, as far as winning a baseball game. But it's an historic night for one tremendous human being," Rockies manager Jim Tracy said. "It couldn't happen to a better guy. A more professional person I don't know I've been around."Moyer (1-2) was sharp all evening as he picked up his 268th career win, tying him with Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 34th on the career list.Relying on a consistent cutter and mixing in a 78-mph fastball, the crafty pitcher gave up just six hits and two runs -- both unearned -- as he kept the Padres hitters at bay and off balance."Today, for me, just like it's been my previous two starts -- going out and trying to give my best effort," Moyer said.That's been a winning recipe for Moyer over a career that's stretched nearly a quarter century and included 689 games.Anthony Bass, a pitcher half Moyer's age, went five innings and gave up three runs. Bass (0-2) also had a career-high seven strikeouts.Moyer earned that elusive win for the ages in his third start of the season. His age is 49 years, 150 days old.That's important to note since before Moyer's effort the oldest pitcher to win a game in the majors was Jack Quinn of the Brooklyn Dodgers on Sept. 13, 1932, when he was 49 years, 70 days old.Not that Moyer knows much about Quinn."I wish I was a baseball historian," Moyer said. "I'm a little embarrassed to admit that. As players, we should know more about the game, the history of the game. You need to respect the game and the people that came before you."He's definitely a part of baseball's history now.However, he doesn't think this mark will stand the test of time."The way athletes are going in today's game, I think it could be broken," he said.This game got a little dicey at the end.Rafael Betancourt survived a rocky ninth as he surrendered a solo homer to Nick Hundley and put two more runners on before striking out Yonder Alonso to earn his third save in as many chances.About the only blemish to the night were two more errors by smooth-fielding shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, giving him six already this season. The Gold Glove winner had six all of last year.His fielding error in the seventh proved quite costly and nearly spoiled Moyer's place in the record books. With two on and one out, Tulowitzki had a routine double play ball go right through his legs, leading to a run. Jason Bartlett brought in another with a sacrifice fly to right to cut the lead to 3-2.Moyer ended the threat by getting pinch hitter Jeremy Hermida to ground out to second on a 76-mph cutter.The Rockies added two insurance runs in the eighth as Michael Cuddyer doubled in a run off former Rockies closer Huston Street and Wilin Rosario added a sacrifice fly.Away from the mound, Moyer hardly looks like a kid anymore. He has gray streaks in his hair and frequently dons reading glasses that sit perched on the tip of his nose. This betrays his age too: He's on the verge of receiving his AARP card.But once he steps on the mound that youthful exuberance returns.He's transformed into a kid again, sprinting out to the mound after each inning. He looked more like a spry rookie than a veteran nearing retirement.Moyer enticed the Padres to hit into three double plays, despite warnings before the game by Mark Kotsay -- the one player who's consistently hit Moyer -- to remain patient. Then again, it's difficult to lay off a pitch that looks so juicy.The aged wonder used his wealth of experience to his advantage against the young Padres, six of whom weren't even born when Moyer made his major league debut in 1986. That included Bass, who has fond memories of Coors Field after winning his debut in the hitter friendly stadium last June.Kotsay's first plate appearance of the season was a single in the opening inning. Kotsay was activated off the disabled list on Monday after missing the first 10 games with a strained right calf muscle.That his first hit should be against Moyer hardly comes as a surprise since the 36-year-old Kotsay has a .583 lifetime average against Moyer. They even exchanged friendly grins after each of Kotsay's two singles."He wears me out. He knows it. I know it," Moyer said. "We joke in the offseason."Kotsay also has a lot of respect for Moyer."It says something about how much he loves to compete and his willingness to work, and at 49, to go out and throw the ball and have success," said Kotsay, who faced the veteran for the first time since June 13, 2006, when Kotsay was with the Oakland A's and Moyer a member of the Seattle Mariners.Before the game, Kotsay was giving pointers to his impressionable teammates on how to hit Moyer's methodical pitches."Be patiently aggressive," Andy Parrino recounted. "Make him come to us a little bit more. Oh, and make him stay in the strike zone."Moyer doesn't have a blazing fastball, but he does have this -- pinpoint precision.Padres manager Bud Black certainly appreciates the cleverness of Moyer, marveling from the dugout at the vintage pitcher who went to spring training without a guaranteed roster spot and performed his way onto the team. He missed all of 2011 as he recovered from a surgically repaired ligament in his elbow."It's a great story," Black said. "It's wonderful that he's continued to get the results needed to stay in the major leagues. This is a performance-driven game and the last 15 years of his career have been outstanding."NOTES:Padres RHP Tim Stauffer (strained elbow) threw Tuesday in San Diego. He's scheduled for a bullpen session this weekend. ... OF Carlos Gonzalez (strep throat) returned the lineup, going 0 for 2 with two walks. ... Moyer said he will donate some memorabilia to the Hall of Fame from the game.

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

Javier Báez joins Cubs All-Decade Team at second base, where El Mago was born

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

There may not be a player in baseball more exciting to watch than Javier Báez.

Whether at the plate, in the field or on the bases, Báez is a human highlight real. He’s one of the most powerful hitters in baseball; he has a cannon for an arm, exemplary defensive range and is a tagging maestro. He’s a dynamic baserunner who uses his elite baseball instincts to go station-to-station while magically avoiding tags along the way.

Yeah, there’s a reason Báez is known as “El Mago.” It’s not a matter of if he’ll make an incredible play each game, but a matter of when. Things come easy for the 27-year-old full of flair who makes the most difficult plays seem routine.

Báez is a career .270/.310/.484 hitter who’s hit 110 home runs in parts of six big-league seasons. One of those long balls came in his big-league debut (Aug. 5, 2014), a go-ahead blast against the Rockies in the 12th inning. The legend of El Mago was born.

Báez is the Cubs starting shortstop, though that hasn’t always been the case. Starlin Castro was the starter in 2014; Addison Russell claimed the title from Castro in the second half of 2015, holding it down until late in the 2018 season. Russell hit the injured list that August as the Cubs simultaneously acquired Daniel Murphy in an attempt to jump-start the offense.

By the time Russell returned, Báez was a clear-cut NL MVP candidate. The latter still bounced around the infield from time-to-time, but with Murphy entrenched at second, shortstop became Báez’s primary position. He’s been the starter ever since.

Báez has played 2,646 2/3 career innings at shortstop compared to 1,856 at second base (and 629 1/3 at third). He’s exclusively a shortstop these days, but the El Mago second base days aren’t forgotten.

Báez was the co-recipient of the 2016 NLCS MVP award (along with Jon Lester) and has started back-to-back All-Star Games (2018 at second, 2019 at shortstop). He was the runner-up for the 2018 NL MVP award, posting career highs across the board: .290/.326/.554, 34 homers, 111 RBIs, 129 OPS+.

And yet, it feels like Báez is only getting started. Nevertheless, his career to date has more than earned him a spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team at second base. With that, we'll leave you with this:

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

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AP

Adam Boqvist's entry-level contract with Blackhawks officially kicks in

The youth movement is underway in Chicago and it's happening quicker than expected.

Adam Boqvist played in his 10th NHL game of the season on Sunday, officially triggering the first year of his entry-level contract. That means he will become a restricted free agent at end of the 2021-22 season. If he appeared in nine games or fewer, his contract wouldn't have kicked in until next season, which would've bought the Blackhawks an extra year of Boqvist playing at a cap hit of $894,167.

"Maybe that was a discussion very early on but as far as coach perspective, we like him," head coach Jeremy Colliton said on whether he and GM Stan Bowman had conversations about burning Boqvist's first year. "I think he's played well and it's an opportunity with some injuries to give him some ice time. He's handled it well so far."

Boqvist is the second rookie on the Blackhawks this season to burn their first year, joining No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach. Whether the decisions were dictated by circumstances or not, the Blackhawks have seen enough of both of them to feel they can have an impact on the team in the short term without hindering their developments in the long term.

The number to watch now is 40. Like Dach, if Boqvist appears in 40 or more games this season, it will count as a full season and bring him one year closer to unrestricted free agency. Any player that's accrued seven full seasons or is at least 27 years old as of June 30 of that respective year can become an unrestricted free agent.

Boqvist appeared in six games for the Blackhawks during the month of November before getting reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League on Nov. 14 when Connor Murphy was ready to return from his groin injury.

But with Calvin de Haan (shoulder) expected to be out long term and Duncan Keith still out with a groin injury, the Blackhawks called up Boqvist for insurance and because they lacked defensemen with offensive upside. It appears he will remain with the big club for the time being and it serves as a chance for their No. 8 overall pick in 2018 to prove he can handle NHL minutes on a consistent basis during a desperate time for the Blackhawks.

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