Daily Dose: Boston's busy day

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Boston was busy Wednesday afternoon, getting Adam LaRoche from the
Pirates for a pair of marginal prospects before swapping Julio Lugo to
the Cardinals for Chris Duncan. Eating most of the $13.5 million
remaining on Lugo’s deal allowed the Red Sox to get a potentially
useful player in return, although Duncan’s stock is down dramatically
over the past two years and he’ll head to Triple-A for now.

Lugo is expected to assume a fairly big role for the Cardinals,
pushing Brendan Ryan for playing time at shortstop while also being an
option at second base and third base. His bat remains useful and his
lack of range following knee surgery is less of an issue at another
spot, but Tony La Russa and company will soon learn that Lugo simply
isn’t capable of playing a decent shortstop right now.

While dumping Lugo for whatever they could get became a no-brainer
for Boston the move to add LaRoche is more interesting. He figures to
be a part-time player if everyone else is healthy, essentially
providing insurance for Mike Lowell, Kevin Youkilis, and David Ortiz.
LaRoche’s struggles against left-handers won’t be an issue if Lowell is
healthy and he’s a career .275/.347/.500 hitter versus righties.

If nothing else he’s a sizable upgrade over Mark Kotsay and the Red
Sox may be one of the few teams that can afford to pay $3 million for
50 games of a part-time player. Rather than wait to see if he’d fetch
draft picks as a Type B free agent the Pirates chose to cash LaRoche in
for Argenis Diaz, a 22-year-old shortstop with lots of glove and little
bat, and 21-year-old right-hander Hunter Strickland.

While the Red Sox get a jump on the trading deadline and the Pirates
continue their never-ending rebuild, here are some other notes from
around baseball …

* Jordan Zimmermann has been one of the few bright spots for the
Nationals this season, posting a 4.63 ERA and impressive 92/29 K/BB
ratio in 91.1 innings as a 23-year-old rookie who basically skipped
Triple-A. Unfortunately he was placed on the disabled list Wednesday
with right elbow soreness. There’s no timetable yet for his return, but
fellow 23-year-old Collin Balester will take his rotation spot.

* Bobby Jenks has allowed runs in four of his last five outings, but
Ozzie Guillen made it clear Wednesday that he’s in no danger of losing
closer duties. “He’s my closer and if people don’t want him to be my
closer, don’t come to the God damn game,” Guillen said. Despite those
comments it was Matt Thornton closing out a one-run lead Wednesday
night with Jenks having worked on back-to-back days.

AL Quick Hits: Vicente Padilla was scratched from his Wednesday
start with the flu, so Dustin Nippert held the Red Sox to one run in
5.2 innings for his first win since last September … Glen Perkins could
be headed for the disabled list after complaining of shoulder soreness
after Wednesday’s brutal effort … Juan Rivera (hamstring) missed his
fourth straight game Wednesday … Kevin Slowey (wrist) will begin a
rehab assignment Saturday at Triple-A … Clay Buchholz struggled
Wednesday while subbing for Tim Wakefield, leaving after throwing 90
pitches in four innings … Felix Hernandez allowed just one run
Wednesday while throwing at least seven innings for the ninth straight
start … Armando Galarraga gave up just one hit in 7.2 innings
Wednesday, but got stuck with a no-decision … Nelson Cruz (finger)
returned to the lineup Wednesday by going 2-for-2 with two walks and
two steals.

NL Quick Hits: Manny Corpas may miss the rest of the season
following surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow … Manny Ramirez
was out of Wednesday’s lineup after being plunked on the hand, but
delivered a pinch-hit grand slam into the “Mannywood” section at Dodger
Stadium… Garrett Jones went deep again Wednesday, giving him nine
homers in 17 games … Jason Marquis’ next start has been pushed back to
Tuesday thanks to a finger blister … Chris Carpenter tossed eight
innings of two-run ball Wednesday before Ryan Franklin blew the lead …
Edinson Volquez (elbow) reported zero problems after a bullpen session
Wednesday … Ricky Nolasco struck out 10 and combined with three
relievers on a three-hit shutout Wednesday … Josh Willingham snapped a
0-for-14 slump by going 4-for-4 with a homer Wednesday … Jair Jurrjens
beat Tim Lincecum while retiring 17 straight batters Wednesday … Tony
La Russa said Wednesday that Todd Wellemeyer’s rotation spot is safe
for at least one more start.

Cardinals snap Familia’s saves streak, rally past Mets 5-4

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NEW YORK — Yadier Molina and pinch-hitter Kolten Wong each stroked an RBI double in the ninth inning, and the St. Louis Cardinals ended Jeurys Familia‘s streak of 52 straight saves in rallying past the New York Mets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer off Adam Wainwright to cap a three-run comeback in the seventh that gave the Mets a 4-3 lead. But then Familia, who hadn’t blown a regular-season save opportunity since July 30 last year, finally faltered.

Jedd Gyorko drew a one-out walk in the ninth and was replaced by pinch-runner Randal Grichuk. Molina hit the next pitch to deep center field, and Grichuk scored standing up to tie it.

Molina was thrown out at third by Familia (2-2) on pinch-hitter Jeremy Hazelbaker’s comebacker, but Hazelbaker stole second and scored when Wong lined a double just inside the left-field line.

Familia’s franchise-record saves streak was the third-longest in major league history behind Tom Gordon (54) and Eric Gagne (84).

Jonathan Broxton (3-2) tossed a scoreless eighth and Seung Hwan Oh got three quick outs for his sixth save.

Including a split of Tuesday’s doubleheader, St. Louis took two of three from the Mets in a matchup of NL wild-card contenders. It was only the second time in the past decade that the Cardinals have won a road series against the Mets.

Logan Verrett pitched seven efficient innings and slumping Neil Walker went 3 for 3 with a base on balls for the third-place Mets, who have alternated wins and losses in their last 13 games. They dropped 5 1/2 games behind NL East-leading Washington.

New York did manage to keep Gyorko and the rest of St. Louis’ hitters in the ballpark after the Cardinals had homered in 17 consecutive games – their longest streak since a club-record run of 19 games in 2006.

Gyorko went deep in both ends of Tuesday’s doubleheader, giving him seven homers in nine games.

Matt Holliday hit a two-run double off Verrett with two outs in the third, and Matt Adams followed with an RBI double that made it 3-1.

Wainwright, who entered 3-0 with a 0.93 ERA in July, nursed that lead until the seventh – repeatedly pitching out of trouble. He nearly did so again after striking out Curtis Granderson and Asdrubal Cabrera with runners at the corners.

But then Travis d'Arnaud scored on a wild pitch and Cespedes socked a two-run homer off the facing of the second deck in left-center on the 117th and final pitch from the 34-year-old Wainwright.

 

 

Report: Mariners have interest in Reds’ Jay Bruce

ATLANTA, GA - JUNE 14:  Jay Bruce #32 of the Cincinnati Reds waits to bat prior to hitting a three-run homer in the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on June 14, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Mariners are among the teams that have contacted the Reds about outfielder Jay Bruce. The Mariners enter play Wednesday 51-48, six games out of first place in the AL West and 4.5 games out of the second AL Wild Card slot. Adding an impact bat like Bruce could help in their effort to reach the postseason.

Norichika Aoki and Seth Smith have handled the bulk of the playing time in left field. While Smith has hit well, Aoki has not. Bruce came into Wednesday’s game against the Giants batting .271/.324/.567 with 24 home runs and a league-best 78 RBI.

Bruce can become a free agent after the season if his controlling team declines his $13 million club option for the 2017 season by paying him a $1 million buyout. If he’s traded mid-season, his new team won’t be able to make him a qualifying offer, so the club option may be more enticing than it looks at first glance.