And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Hello all. I’m pinch-hitting for Craig as he works on perfecting his Perry Mason imitation. Go easy on me. I can’t even imitate Rusty Hardin.

Dodgers 9, Braves 1: Chad Billingsley struck out nine in five innings, but Joe Torre sat him down after the pitcher came down with a cramp in his hamstring. Billingsley’s knee appeared to buckle as he followed through on a pitch in the fifth inning, but the right-hander said “I always do it. That’s nothing new.”

Rangers 4, Mariners 2: Ian Snell was solid in Seattle debut (6 innings, 3 hits, two runs), but the Rangers continued to play home run derby (Young, Murphy, Saltalamacchia), taking three of four in series. Mariners fans will probably prefer the headline on this story.

Marlins 3, Cubs 2: Dan Uggla hit a home run in the ninth that might still be circling the Earth. Cody Ross followed with his second of the game — on the very next pitch — to give the Marlins a dramatic win. It was Kevin Gregg’s second blown save in as many days and his fifth in 26 chances this season. Don’t look now, but the Marlins are five game behind the Phillies.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 2: Jays starter Ricky Romero discovered that when you’re facing the A’s, all you have to do is throw your fastball across the plate and you’ll be OK. A’s starter Vin Mazzaro discovered that it’s not the same when facing the Blue Jays. Aaron Hill proves it with two-run home run.

Giants 7, Phillies 3: San Francisco finished off a 6-1 homestand as Freddy Sanchez – one of 10 ex-Pirates enjoying their recent call-ups to the actual majors – comes up with two hits and two RBIs in his Giants debut. Also, Barry Zito pitches like its 2002.

Brewers 6, Padres 1: Trevor Hoffman faced his old team in a surreal setting, closing out a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation. Interestingly, it was not the first time he had faced the Padres (twice in 1993 when with the Marlins). Furthering the Padres’ misery, pitcher Kevin Correia hit into a double play after faking a bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out in the fifth inning.

Astros 2, Cardinals 0: Bud Norris dominated the Cardinals in his first major league start, allowing just two hits in seven sharp innings and giving our own D.J. Short great joy. Norris actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright led off with a single. Tony La Russa admitted after the game that Albert Pujols is “in a funk.”

Angels 13, Twins 4: Who needs Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero? Kendry Morales hit a pair of three-run home runs and drove in a career-high six RBIs in the destruction of the Twins. The Halos have won 13 of 15 and now have the best record (63-40) in the AL. Said Twins outfielder Denard Span: “Thank God they’re getting out of here. The last two days, they were just pretty much stealing our lunch money, kicking our butts.”

Yankees 8, White Sox 5: Melky Cabrera became the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since – you guessed it – Tony Fernandez in 1995. The expected pitcher’s duel between CC Sabathia and Mark Buerhle becomes a slugfest.

Royals 4, Rays 1: James Shields carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but then the Rays do their best Royals imitation, giving away the victory. Tropicana Field now has gone 940 regular season games without witnessing a no-hitter. Or the warm Florida sun.

Red Sox 18, Orioles 10: Putting Victor Martinez at catcher in place of Jason Varitek proves advantageous to the Patriots – err Red Sox, as Boston’s new slugger goes 5-for-6. Red Sox have won four straight and are ½ game behind the Yankees. The Orioles are just happy their not the Nats.

Indians 11, Tigers 1: Carl Pavano pitched eight sharp innings in a rout of the Tigers. “The key was keeping the ball in the park,” he said. I’m guessing a lot of Yankees fans wished he had figured that out a long time ago.

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 2: Chad Tracy robbed Gary Sheffield of a “scud missile” during a key moment in the fifth inning, sparking Jon Garland in a complete game victory. But don’t worry Mets fans, help is on the way. Nelson Figueroa will be activated on Monday to start against Dan Haren. Seems like a fair fight.

Rockies 6, Reds 4, 11 inn.: Dexter Fowler won the game with a two-out RBI triple in the 11th. It was the fourth straight win for the Rockies, who remain tied for the NL wild card lead. In just his second game for Cincinnati since being traded from Toronto on Friday, Scott Rolen was hit in the helmet with a pitch. He didn’t sound badly hurt, saying “It stunned me, but I could still cuss.”

Nationals 5, Pirates 3: Had to save the best for last, of course. The highlight of the game? Had to be when Nats pitcher Sean Burnett was booed upon entering the game. He was the one who had the nerve to call the Pirates the “laughingstock of baseball.”

Burnett said he’d never been booed before, which seems unlikely.

 

 

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.