And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Phillies 2, Mets 0: Blanton beats Santana, yadda, yadda, yadda. I want to use this entry to make my first observation of the All-Star season. Fact: Charlie Manuel manages the NL team this year. Fact:
he has an All-Star roster with too many first basemen and nary a
legitimate centerfielder to be found, among other issues that may very
well prevent the NL from winning. Fact: the league which loses the All-Star game costs its World Series representative home field advantage. Fact: the Phillies stand a decent enough chance to go back to the World Series this year. Fact: the Phillies have been a much better road team than home team this year. Theory:
Charlie Manuel is deliberately tanking the All-Star game in the hopes
that the Phillies lose home field “advantage.” Clever, Charlie. Very
clever.

Marlins 5, Pirates 0: Ricky Nolasco continues his post-call-up
tear, this time shutting out and striking out 12 Pirates and giving up
only three hits over eight innings. Hanley Ramirez was scratched from
the lineup because his hip is sore. When asked if he’d play in the
upcoming series in San Francisco, he said “I’ll see how it feels after
a 7-hour plane ride.” That’s funny. I checked Expedia, and there are no
direct commercial flights between Miami and San Francisco that
take more than six hours, and many take a little less. A chartered team
plane shouldn’t do any worse. If Ramirez is right, though, I can only
assume that Jeff Loria is so cheap that he has his team flying
Southwest or something. If you’re at the Oklahoma City airport later
today and see a guy that looks kinda like Dan Uggla getting a TCBY
while waiting for his connection, it probably is Dan Uggla.

Athletics 5, Indians 2: OK, we’ve got a situation here. Last
week I said I’d go with “Major League” quotes until either (a) Eric
Wedge was fired; or (b) the Indians won three in a row. In reality,
when I said that I assumed that Wedge was a dead man walking and that
the bit would end soon. Then, prior to yesterday’s game, Shapiro goes
and announces that Wedge will keep his job for the rest of the season.
So here’s the problem: there’s no way in hell this team is gonna win
three games in a row any time soon. Just look at yesterday: they had
two in the bag, their ace on the mound, and Gio-freakin’-7.27
ERA-Gonzales facing them. At home. What happens? Of course they lose.
So what do I do? I mean, I beat some bits into the ground, but I had no
intention of running “Major League” quotes every day. If I did, I’d
start to run out of good ones by, say, September. I’m going to give
some thought to how long I stick with this, but I’m leaning towards
giving it up and simply trying to find new ways to describe how
depressing this team is. I’ll leave that decision for tomorrow or the
next day. In the meantime: “Let me get back to you, will ya, Charlie? I
got a guy on the other line asking about some white walls.”

Cubs 8, Brewers 2: The AP game story quotes Ryan Braun talking
about how the Milwaukee pitchers aren’t getting the job done. That’s
interesting enough, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel quotes him getting into the GM’s business as well.
He then spent the whole bus ride back to Milwaukee complaining about
how the driver changed lanes too much and yelling at Corey Hart for
taking up too much armrest space.

Nationals 5, Braves 3: Atlanta sweeps the first place Phillies
and then drops two of three to the worst team in Major League Baseball.
Anyone who couldn’t have predicted that hasn’t watched much Braves
baseball for the past three or four years.

Cardinals 10, Reds 1: I’ve sorta not been paying that much
attention to the Reds lately, so I had just been assuming that Bronson
Arroyo was continuing his patteren of getting shelled, then pitching
well, then getting shelled, etc. Looking at it now, the “getting
shelled” option has been a lot more prevalent, and it happened again
yesterday (5 IP, 11 H, 8 R). Arroyo now has the worst ERA among regular
NL starters.

Yankees 10, Blue Jays 8: Joba Chamberlain gets his ineffective
butt saved by Derek Jeter and the rest of the Yankees’ offense. In
Chamberlain’s defense, neither of the homers he gave up would have
reached the seats in old Yankee Stadium. Such a defense only goes so
far, of course, given that Alfredo Aceves pitched against the same Blue
Jays and in front of the same outfield walls yesterday, and he only
gave up one hit in four innings of relief work.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 4: The Mariners would have liked to take
this one, but the fact is that they finished nine road games against
the Dodgers, Yankees and Red Sox 5-4, and that’s pretty damn
impressive.

Royals 6, White Sox 3: Some interesting thoughts about the whole Rany-Royals dustup here.
I wish someone would have thought to ask Ozzie Guillen about this over
the weekend. Even in the very likely event that he knows none of the
actors and cares not a bit about this drama, the way in which he would
have put it would have been pretty entertaining.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: A bunch of those “The Tigers are in the
driver’s seat” stories popped up last week. Everyone who wrote them
forgot the fact that the Twins just never, ever seem to go away, no
matter how hard you try and make them. They take two of three from the
kitty cats and stand ready to be a total pain in Detroit’s butt for the
next three months.

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 3: Dan Haren pitched six innings and
stood to be the winner after the Dbacks took the lead in the top of the
seventh. I probably would have bet the balance of my 401K that the
Arizona bullpen wasn’t going to hold that lead for him, but I’ll be
damned if they didn’t.

Angels 9, Orioles 6: Baltimore held 4-0 leads on Saturday and Sunday and blew them both. But it’s not like there isn’t hope.

Dodgers 7, Padres 6: Broxton blows a four-run lead in the ninth
(I’m sure it was Manny’s fault somehow), but James Loney hits a solo
homer in the 13th to give the Dodgers the win.

Astros 7, Giants 1: Roy Oswalt is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA over his
last three starts. Randy Johnson bailed early with a strained shoulder.
He probably did it while batting earlier in the game. Some joker
somewhere will use that as an argument for the DH, ignoring that
Johnson has had nearly 700 career plate appearances without incident
before yesterday.

Rangers 5, Rays 2: The Rangers sweep the Rays — allowing only
seven runs in the three game set — and now start a big series against
Anaheim. Tasty.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.