And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Braves 7, Mets 1: Correlation is not the same thing as
causation, but it’s worth noting that the Braves are 5-2 since
unloading Francoeur. The Mets are now seventeen games back of the Nats
in the Bryce Harper sweepstakes. Maybe that makes them a longshot, but
I like their chances of winning that race way more than I like them
winning the N.L. East.

Phillies 5, Marlins 0: While the Braves trend upwards and the
Mets trend down, the Phillies simply don’t plan on losing, it seems.
J.A. Happ shuts the Marlins down for seven and four others combine to
handle the remaining two innings, as the Phils sweep the Marlins. They
lead the East by 6.5 games, and no one else in that division looks as
though they have a higher gear.

Angels 1, Athletics 0: It was like Game 7 of the 1991 World
Series, but only if Jack Morris was lifted after nine and John Smoltz
was lifted after eight. And if Dan Gladden was a Venezuelan right
fielder with minimal range who homered instead of doubled. And if the
game really didn’t mean all that much. Hope you didn’t blink during
this one, though. It was 2 hours, 17 minutes for a 10 inning game.

Giants 4, Pirates 3: The Giants finally find some post-break
offense. Not a lot, mind you, but enough to finally win a game. Matt
Cain was strong (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Heavy hearts in the San Francisco
dugout, as earlier in the day Giants’ part owner Sue Burns died of
complications from cancer. According to reports of her death, she was
diagnosed with the disease July 10. Christ, why do we care about most
of the stupid crap we care about in this world when any single one of
us can go from zero to cancer to the sweet hereafter in nine freakin’

Dodgers 4, Astros 3: Big surprise as the Dodgers’ seventh hitter
goes 3-3, scores four runs and hits the game-winning dinger. Oh, wait.
It was Matt Kemp, so I suppose the only surprising thing about it is
that he’s still hitting seventh. Whatevers, Joe.

Rockies 6, Padres 1: It’s Jason Marquis’ world; the rest of us
are just, quite unexpectedly, living in it. The Major League leader in
wins — I repeat, Jason Marquis, the Major Leagues’ leader in victories
— not only pitches eight strong innings, but he doubles and drives in
two runs as well.

Cardinals 2, Diamondbacks 1: Joel Piniero is apparently living
in Jason Marquis’ world too, contributing on the hill and at the plate
(7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER; 1-3, 2B, 2 RBI).

Rays 4, Royals 3: Roman Colon walked in the winning run after
getting ahead of the hitter 0-2 which, like so many other things in
Kansas City these days, had to be kind of depressing. Luke Hochevar
pitched well. When asked about it, he sounded like he was sending Colon
a message: “I got to two strikes a lot and I tried to put them away.”
“Unlike that no-good sonofa@!$%# Colon,” Hochevar thought but did not
add. And this may mean nothing, but Joe Posnanski’s Facebook status
last night said “Something big coming?” I suppose it could mean that a
Skyline Chili is opening up in Kansas City, but with Joe that would
have inspired an exclamation point. No, if I had to guess, I’d say he
heard someone telling someone that someone was getting fired. Or

Yankees 2, Tigers 1: Nice weekend for the Yankees as they sweep
Detroit, but this one is especially nice as Joba Chamberlain looked
good for the first time in a while. Can’t say that the Tigers looked
bad, though. Leyland pretty much said it all: “If you told me that we’d
hold those guys to nine runs in three games in this ballpark, I’d say
we’d have won two out of three for sure, maybe even sweep. We just
didn’t get any hits. Period.”

Orioles 10, White Sox 2: Jeremy Guthrie (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) and
Greg Zaun (3-4, HR, 4 RBI) had nice days to salvage one from the
Chisox. In other news, I like to say “Chisox.” Chisox, Chisox, Chisox.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1: Halladay was his usual ridiculous self
(CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 7K, 0 BB). He’s still not going anywhere, despite what
the writers of all the game stories say in the seven paragraphs that
precede any discussion of the actual game action, but yes, he was
impressive. The Sox’ lead over the Yankees is now down to one game.

Cubs 11, Nationals 3: Julian Tavarez had another bad outing and was designated for assignment after the game. Chico Harlan has a detailed story about it all,
and it’s actually kind of sad. Tavarez lives in a hotel room near the
stadium in Washington and keeps no friends in D.C. He gets to the park
early. He does nothing else but play, go home, sleep, and then come to
the park again. He says that baseball is everything to him. You hear
about a guy like that and hope that he can stick around a while. When
he doesn’t, you probably have to worry about him even more than you did
when he was on the team.

Mariners 5, Indians 3: If there were any doubts — and I suppose
there could have been a few — as to whether Ichiro was a Hall of Famer
based solely on his U.S. output, they’re being put to rest this season.
He went 3-4 yesterday, raising his average to .363, which suggests a
Tony Gwynn-decline, not a Roberto Alomar one. As for the Indians, I’m
running out of smack to talk. There was a “the bright side of the 2009
Indians” kind of article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer yesterday, and
it focused on Sizemore, Choo, Martinez and Cabrera. Those dudes
combined to go 0-15.

Reds 5, Brewers 3: It’s curious that the Brewers have now lost
four straight Yovani Gallardo starts. I mean, usually you’re better off
with your ace on the mound. Lots of complaining about the umps
in this one from the Milwaukee side of things. “[Dale Sveum] felt that
this guy’s strike zone was a little erratic,” manager Ken Macha said,
adding that “the strike zone got a little wide in the eighth and ninth
innings.” Well yeah. Umps got flights to catch after Sunday games just
like anyone else. What does Sveum expect?

Rangers 5, Twins 3: Ian Kinsler starts the game with a leadoff
homer and ends it with a walkoff. Pretty neat! Not so neat that he did
it off of a knuckleballer, of course — Karma’s gonna kick him in the
jewels for that somehow — but I suppose he’s riding pretty high today,

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.