And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Why do we need an All-Star break? I’m not even tired . . .

Tigers 10, Indians 1:
I listened to this game on the radio while painting the railing and
trim around my front porch with my old man. My dad is great, if for no
other reason than he’ll help me paint my porch, but he’s never been a
big baseball fan. It took a couple of innings before he realized that
it was a Tigers game, and when he did, he said “you can pick up WJR
here?” I explained to him that it was the Tribe’s broadcast and that
even if it wasn’t, WJR doesn’t carry the Tigers anymore. “Ah.” We
painted on. A few minutes later: “Harwell doesn’t do Tigers games
anymore.” I think it was a statement and not a question, but I wasn’t
completely sure. “No,” I said, “he’s been retired for a few years now.
He’s still sharp — did an inning or two at the World Series a couple
of years ago, I think — but he’s done.” We painted on, enjoying the
game. “George Kell’s dead.” This one I know was a statement because he
told me about it when he heard it on the news a few months back. I
didn’t have much of a response beyond “yep.” We painted on. Brandon
Inge hit his second home run in the 5th and my dad, who I’m certain
hasn’t paid any attention to baseball since the mid 80s, said “Man, the
Indians are terrible.” This was definitely a statement, and I quote it
here for truth.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 2:
Between this game and the one above, I’m really missing the old AL East
right now. Hows about trading the Rays to the NL for the Brewers,
realigning back to two divisions and picking two Wild Card teams? It
wouldn’t actually change the playoff picture too much — the Tigers and
Rangers would be in a mad dash for the second Wild Card slot right now
— but it would restore the aesthetics of it all. As for this game,
Brad Bergesen continues his solid ways, leading a team that seems to be
trending up past a team that is clearly trending down as the season
progresses. Oh, and plate umpire Ron Kulpa suffered a mild concussion
after being smacked in the mask by a foul ball. They finished the game
with three umps. I wish they would have moved the third base ump to the
mound like they did when I played eight year-old minor league or
whatever it was.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 3:
Zambrano hits a home run and pitches six decent innings to win the
game. Phil Rogers demands that he be waived. Kyle Lohse made his first
start in over a month, but it didn’t go too well. To make room for him,
the Cardinals optioned reliever Blake Hawksworth to Memphis. “Blake
Hawksworth?” That doesn’t sound like a ballplayer. It sounds like a
guest character from a four-episode arc of “Dynasty” or the male lead
in some bodice-ripping romance novel or something. From the back cover:
“Cattle baron Blake Hawksworth is used to getting his way. So he is
baffled when Annie Jones, a feisty little hellion who steps between him
and a bullet in the back, isn’t interested in becoming his latest
plaything. If only he knew that Annie is really the Countess of
Montevarchi — in disguise and on the run! — and that their fledgling
relationship is a scandal-in-the-making!” I know what I’m reading
during the All-Star break!

Cardinals 4, Cubs 2:
Ryan Ludwick: 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Albert Pujols hits in front of
Ludwick and went 0-4 with nary a walk. I think he did it on purpose to
show Ludwick how it feels to have absolutely no help around him in the
lineup. I may be letting my Pujols man-crush cloud my reasoning on
this, however.

Red Sox 6, Royals 0:
Josh Beckett ties the Royals up in knots (CG SHO 3 H, 7K, 94 pitches)
and wins his 100th game. Jason Bay reached base five times without
registering an official at bat, drawing three walks and getting plunked
twice.

Mets 9, Reds 7:
Francoeur went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the win on Saturday, and then
went 2-5 yesterday. Probably worth noting that he started pretty darn
hot in Atlanta too. In fact, that hot start is the only reason he stuck
around as long as he did. So I guess what I’m saying to my Met-fan
friends out there is this: hope and pray that Francoeur cools off
quickly, because if he doesn’t, Omar won’t non-tender him this winter
as nature intended, and then he’ll be your starting right fielder next
year. Making like $5 million.

Athletics 7, Rays 3:
Andrew Bailey pitches a two-inning save. Now he may not be available
for the All-Star Game on Tuesday! Doesn’t Bob Geren know that this time
it counts? What will Joe Maddon do without a fresh Andrew Bailey? What
if Buehrle, Fuentes, Greinke, Halladay, Hernandez, Jackson, Nathan,
Papelbon, Rivera, and Wakefield get into a jam? What then?!!!!

Phillies 5, Pirates 2:
Not surprisingly, J.A. Happ (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) is a better fit in the
Philly rotation than Chan Ho Park was. Not to take anything away from
Happ, but the list of people who would be better fits in the Philly
rotation than Chan Ho Park is not limited to Mr. Happ. In fact, even if
we limited it to just the H’s the list would quite long, and would
include just about everyone except for Stephen Hawking and Corey Haim.
And I’m not sure about Hawking.

Twins 13, White Sox 7:
Nice day for the Twins, but it’s a negative like this — Joe Mauer,
0-5, 4K — which sticks out the most. In other news, on Saturday night the Twins went throwback with their 1984 jerseys.
I think they should go back to those full time when they move into the
new park next year. They’re simple, clean and classic looking. My only
suggestions are: keep blue caps with the “TC” logo at all times (i.e.
no red) and don’t mess at all with solid blue alternates or anything
else. Keep it white at home and gray — or even be daring and go powder
blue — on the road. The era of the “M” logo and pinstripe should be
over the moment the dome is in Minnesota.

Dodgers 7, Brewers 4:
Orlando Hudson hit two homers and Clayton Kershaw improved to 4-0 with
a 0.76 ERA in his last six starts. Oh, and Manny since his return from
suspension: .308/.400/.654. The Dodgers: 6-3.

Angels 5, Yankees 4:
New York blew four-run leads on Friday and Saturday. They didn’t really
blow this one, they just lost, as John Lackey had one of his better
starts of the year (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). For those of you keeping score at
home, the Yanks are now 2-4 against the Angels to go with their 0-8
against Boston.

Marlins 8, Diamondbacks 1:
Josh Johnson gets to go to the All-Star Game, but won’t be pitching, as
he put up six and two-thirds quality innings yesterday. From the game
story: “A woman sitting in the second row near the plate was hit in the
face by a Cantu foul ball in the first inning. Her head was wrapped in
bandages and she was carried out on a stretcher.” And I hereby renew my call for additional netting for the seats down by the field.

Astros 5, Nationals 0:
The Nats couldn’t figure out the enigma that is Brian Moehler (6.1 IP,
7 H, 0 ER) and end the first half with a crisp 26-61 record. I’m more
surprised that the Astros are at .500.

Mariners 5, Rangers 3:
A Chris Shelton sighting. Called up to the Mariners on Wednesday, the
former Ranger and Tiger hit a pinch hit RBI single to put the Ms ahead
for good in the seventh.

Rockies 8, Braves 7:
Atlanta led 4-0, 5-1, and 7-3 in this game, but lost because when your
starting pitcher only gives you four innings, your bullpen is going to
get beat up in a place like Coors Field.

Padres 10, Giants 4:
Barry Zito — after throwing the game of his Giants’ career last time
out — pinches off a 4.1 IP, 10 H,9 ER performance against the worst
offense in the league. Wait, make that the worst offense that had been
struggling mightily entering this game, having only score six runs in
the previous four games. Bengie Molina was back in the lineup after
taking two days off to be with his wife for the birth of his daughter,
Jayda, on Saturday. Little Jayda Molina — being a Molina — was signed
by the Marlins, who expect her to compete for the starting catcher’s
job next spring.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.