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’
days?

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
something.

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,
anyway.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.