And That Happened: Thursday's scores and recaps

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Giants 5, Nationals 1: 300. My first memory of The Big Unit was watching him on TV as he pitched against the Braves on May 7, 1989.
He was gangley and ineffective that afternoon, going four innings and
giving up six runs and walking six guys on the second worst offense in
the National League. There was nothing about him that made me think the
guy would be in baseball in a year, let alone winning his 300th 20
years later. When he was traded to the Mariners the following month I
thought “they gave up Mark Langston for THAT guy?” Mark Langston was an
All-Star who could strike guys out. Why on Earth would Seattle give
that up for this tall drink of water? Shows you what I know.
Congratulations to Randy Johnson, one of the most unique and impressive
talents to ever play the game.

Yankees 8, Rangers 6: Is everyone cool with Hughes to the pen
and Wang to the rotation? Because I’m not sure I am, and I don’t even
much care about the Yankees. Wang gave up five runs on seven hits in
four and two-thirds. On the bright side he only gave up one home run
and struck out five, so this could just be rust which, according to
conventional wisdom, is particularly hard on sinkerballers. I don’t
know if the CW is true in this regard, but at least Hughes is around in
case Wang simply can’t find it again. Compensating for Wang was Melky
Cabrera, who provided late-game heroics once again, this time in the
form of a two-run homer in the eighth that proved to be the game
winner.

Red Sox 6, Tigers 3: Reports of Dontrelle Willis’ return to form
were slightly exaggerated. D-Train was cruising along fine until he was
derailed in the third, when he went HBP-walk-K-walk-walk-walk. Leyland
pulled him at that point — getting himself ejected during the pitching
change, which is a nice trick — and then Zach Miner let eveyone Willis
put on score and then some. To top off this craptacular series for
Detroit, Miguel Cabrera hurt his hamstring running the bases and had to
leave the game.

Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Josh Johnson does it all. He hits!
(three-run homer!) He pitches! (7.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K). He’ll slice
your onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and make mounds of Julienne fries!

Twins 11, Indians 3: After watching Fausto Carmona performance yesterday, Rob Neyer said
“every time Carmona pitches he just embarrasses himself and the rest of
the organization.” Ouch. True, but ouch. Jason Kubel played a big hand
in the embarrassment, smacking two three-run homers off of Carmona.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 5: Not that every recent Neyer subject plays to form. As Rob notes, Howie Kendrick has been terrible,
but after the Angels’ bullpen blew the lead in the eighth, Kendrick
dropped a bunt single when he noticed Jose Bautista playing behind the
bag a third, advanced to third on a Chone Figgins single, and then
scored on a grounder to second that may have frozen a lot of guys at
third base. He’s still playing terrible baseball overall, but at least
for one inning he did something right.

Pirates 11, Mets 6: Welcome Andrew McCutchen! The Pirates’ new
centerfielder went 2-4 with a walk, a stolen base, scored three runs
and drove in another. But really everyone hit for Pittsburgh. Ramon
Vazquez went 4 for 4 and Andy LaRoche had a couple of RBIs as well. The
Mets hit too, but Mike Pelfrey had the worst day of his life, and there
really wasn’t any recovering from the nine runs he had given up by the
time he left in the fourth.

Athletics 7, White Sox 0: Young Brett Anderson pitched a gem (7
IP, 6 H, 0 ER) and for once the A’s bats responded. Everyone had a hit
except Orlando Cabrera and Adam Kennedy. Even Aaron “.158/.200/.158”
Cunningham, who hit a homer. The other day Ozzie Guilled said “if we have Beckham here, we’re in trouble.” Well, he’s here, and he debuted with an 0-3.

Cardinals 3, Reds 1: Overheard during Chris Carpenter’s
2007-2008 surgery and rehab: “Chris Carpenter: pitcher. A man whose arm
is barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology.
We have the capability to build the world’s first bionic starting
pitcher. Chris Carpenter will be that man. Better than he was before.
Better, stronger, faster.” If you have a better explanation for 4-0
with a 0.71 ERA, I’d really like to hear it.

Rays 3, Royals 2: The Royals have dropped seven games in a row. The Rays are back to .500.

Rockies 10, Astros 3: It was going to happen eventually, so why
not last night: Wandy Rodriguez was shelled (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER). Garrett
Atkins had a couple of homers for the Rockies, but really everyone got
in on the hit parade.

Giants 4, Nationals 1: Matt Cain gets a rain-shortened win in
the second, afterthoughty and rainy half of the doubleheader. I can
only assume that there were about six people there by the time the rain
started coming down in earnest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 0: Cole Hamels spins the pitching performance of the night (CG, SHO, 5 H, 5K). The Phillies have won seven straight.

Cubs-Braves: Postponed. They’ll have to schedule a doubleheader
to make this one up, most likely. Doubleheaders can be hard on a
pitching staff. Helps to have an extra starter hanging around for those
things you know. Some guy — maybe a wily vet — who can just bear down
and give you some innings to save the rest of your staff. Too bad the
Braves don’t have anyone like that. AAAAARRRGGH!

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.