And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Fourteen teams get a day off after they just had three days off. That’s like calling in sick the day after Memorial Day.

Phillies 4, Marlins 0: Man, old people love Florida. Moyer: 7
IP, 1 H 0 ER; Ibanez: 2-4, 2 HR 3 RBI. Manuel: hit the early bird
special before the game, found a nice close spot to park the Buick.

Indians 4, Mariners 1: Cliff Lee spun a gem (CG, 9 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, K) and, while it’s still nothing to write home about, he got at least a little
run support. While randomly surfing I found this Indians’ notes column
that went live just as the game was ending. In it, Eric Wedge gets the
quote of the day: “Regarding when the Indians might recall
recently-demoted relievers Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis, Wedge said,
‘We need to let them pitch down there.'” I presume that the reporter
merely cut off the part where Wedge added “mostly because it’s not up
here.”

Cubs 6, Nationals 2: The Jim Riggleman Era begins much like the
Manny Acta era ended. I could probably say a few words about Rich
Harden pitching well, or Derek Lee going 3-4, but I’ve decided that
this is the point in the post where I complain about the fact that my
wife wouldn’t let me watch “Ghostbusters” on the big TV downstairs last
night because she had recorded something else and wanted to watch it
just then. And because I’ve seen it 150 times and, after each time I
see it, I quote the Rick Moranis lines for three straight days which
annoys her to no end, I can tell you. Still, very weak on her part.

Brewers 9, Reds 6: Reports of Homer Bailey’s resurrection have
been greatly exaggerated (5.1 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 4 BB). Oh, and Prince
Fielder would like you to know that there is nothing to that post-HR
Derby falloff theory (1-3, HR 3 RBI).

Braves 5, Mets 3: Welcome back, Jeff Francoeur! What with the
hitting into a double play, striking out, and grounding weakly to
shortstop — not to mention your seeing 14 total pitches in four at
bats — it’s as if you never left!

Angels 6, A’s 2: Given how he’s been rollin’ lately, we couldn’t
have necessarily expected Ervin Santana to pitch eight innings of
one-run ball. But he did, and if he’s better post-break than he was
pre-break, the Angels have a big leg up on Texas in this thing. As for
the A’s, this might be the most depressing paragraph I’ve seen in quite
a while:

Oakland looked sluggish as it kicked off a grueling stretch of 28
games in as many days and 34 in 35. Nomar Garciaparra is scheduled to
get the start at first base on Friday night for the A’s, and manager
Bob Geren plans to use him once a series in place of the struggling
Jason Giambi to keep Giambi fresh.

Rockies 10, Padres 1: Aaron Cook is just livin’ right, I guess.
You must be if you give up eight hits and walk four guys and come away
with it only giving up one run. Oh, and when you’re a pitcher and you
walk with the bases loaded, which as Pinto notes, is happening an awful lot lately.

Astros 3, Dodgers 0: Forget Manny, it was Wandywood in L.A. last
night (6 IP, 5 H, 0 ER). Um, OK, that’s stupid, but say “Wandywood” a
few times. It’s fun!

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.