And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Astros 7, Padres 2;
Look, between my two bloggy spaces and the water cooler at work I have
probably talked about Manny Ramirez more than anyone in the past couple
of weeks. And I’ll admit, my reasons for bringing him up are often
tenuous at best. But nothing I’ve written about the guy is as tenuous
as this bit from the game story, describing how a swarm of bees
descended on Petco Park in the ninth inning: “The bees arrived more
than 24 hours before Manny Ramirez makes his comeback from a 50-game
suspension for violating baseball’s drug policy, when the Los Angeles
Dodgers open a three-game series against San Diego on Friday night.”
Did anyone get Manny’s comment on the bees? Where does Plaschke stand
on all of this? I WANT TO KNOW, DAMMIT!

Mets 9, Pirates 8:
In town for a makeup game, the Mets overcome Tim Redding getting
shelled (2.1 IP, 6 H, 5 ER), and then overcome K-Rod blowing the save
in the ninth (though he did vulture the win). Jerry Manuel: “We could
have just said, `Let’s pack up and head to Philly, it’s a short flight,
let’s get this out of the way.'” “They chose to fight and I thought
that was what was most impressive.” I don’t much like Jerry Manuel so I
appreciate that maybe I’m being too hard on him here, but really, could
your team have chosen to just pack it in, Jerry? Is that a potential
option in the current Mets universe such that their choice not to do so
is laudable?

Reds 3, Diamondbacks 2:
Joey Votto was the hero, going 4 for 6 and hitting the game winning
single in the 10th. The Dbacks have lost ten of twelve. They dead? Yep, they’re dead.

Cardinals 5, Giants 2:
Are we sure this was only a four game series? It feels like they’ve
been playing for two solid weeks. Anyway, Todd Wellemeyer offers a bit
of an F.U. to everyone in St. Louis who has been screaming for him to
be sent down or disappeared or shot or whatever (7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER,
6K). A couple of RBI for Ryan Ludwick who, according to Rick Sutcliffe
on Wednesday, needs to start hitting before Albert Pujols can expect to
start seeing anything to hit. It was a moderately useful insight the
first seven times he made it, but it declined in utility over the next
dozen or so times it was repeated.

Braves 5, Phillies 2:
The Bravos sweep the phirst place Phils, bringing them within two games
of first themselves. Or, put differently, making them three games more
likely to do some stupid deal to try and contend this year instead of
loading for bear in 2010. My view of things is that if they can contend
with what they have, wonderful, I’ll enjoy it. But any deal apart from
unloading Jeff Francoeur is probably a bad move. As for this game,
someone better check Bobby Cox for banned stimulants. He used 18
players in this one, and I don’t think he’s done that since Clinton’s
first term.

Mariners 8, Yankees 4:
Ichiro, Branyan and Chris Woodward of all people join in the Mariner
hit parade, ending the Yanks’ seven game winning streak.

Cubs 9, Brewers 5:
Derek Lee bangs in seven runs on a three run homer and a grand slam, as
the Cubs shell Greenbrier East alum Seth McClung. Stupid Greenbrier
East. Woodrow owns you, Spartans! Hells yeah!

Angels 5, Orioles 2:
Bobby Abreu flashes back several years and shows that yes, he is
capable of hitting home runs. Two actually. Meanwhile, John Lackey
flashes back to the non-2009 portions of his career to show that he can
still pitch like an ace (8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7K). Nothin’ much doin’ for
Baltimore outside of a Luke Scott home run. Game story: “Orioles’ 3B Ty
Wigginton replaced Melvin Mora in the lineup. Mora asked for the night
off after the trip to the West Coast.” OK. For what it’s worth, even my
old man sucks it up and plays through jet lag when he visits my brother
in San Diego, and he’s 65 and flies coach. What, Mora couldn’t have
gotten a few winks on the plane?

White Sox 4, Royals 1:
Bruce Chen? Really? In the same season the Royals ran Horacio Ramirez
out there? What, was Terrell Wade not available? Jung Bong won’t return
your calls, Dayton? Aw, don’t look at me like that, whaddaya gonna do,
ban me or someth—-

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.