And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 2: A lot of people experience anxiety about
taking a day off work. They check their email a lot, allow themselves
to be preoccupied, and generally feel as though the office can’t get by
without them. This is baloney, of course. The world goes on fine
without you. No one is so damn important that they can’t take a day
off. Well, no one except Brandon Inge. That dude is freakin’ essential,
it seems.

Mets 3, Giants 2: At this point, any game the Mets don’t forfeit
due to a lack of warm bodies has to be considered a victory. This one,
however, was a bona fide win, with Daniel Murphy singling in Jeff
Francoeur to win it in the ninth. After the game, however, all of the
questions were about David Wright. Jerry Manuel: “Nobody wants to ask
me about Murphy’s game-winning hit? You guys are really bad.” Look
Jerry, David Wight is practically the last major league-quality hitter
the Mets had left, so his health is big news. When a couple of
out-machines luck into hits in what will certainly turn out to be a
meaningless game, there’s really nothing that can be said about it
besides some variation of “blind hogs find acorns.” Cut the press boys
some slack.

Cardinals 7, Padres 5: The Cards are as hot as anyone right now,
having won eight of ten and continuing to maintain a five game lead
over the Cubs despite Chicago’s recent spurt. Yadier Molina and Colby
Rasmus were the heroes in the ninth, capping off a come-from-behind win
with an RBI single and a home run, respectively. Actual quote from
Heath Bell after the game: “I was surprised how big it was when I took
my pants off.” Context, my friends, is everything.

Angels 17, Orioles 8: Nothing like a tight extra-innings affair.
The nine runs scored by LAA in the 13th were the most scored in a
single extra inning in 14 years.

Nationals 5, Reds 4: Josh Willingham hit a massive home run,
doubled, had three RBI, and scored the winning run from third on a
heads up play when Drew Sutton lollygagged a throw in from shallow
right in the eighth inning. You know what that makes Sutton, don’t you?

Rays 5, Blue Jays 2: Cast in an unlikely role for which he is usually ill-equipped to act, Gregg “Z-Game” Zaun launched a pinch-hit home run in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie. Approaches the unreal, really.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3: And the Rangers take the series and the
wild card lead. I presume that this will be reported in most quarters
in terms of Boston’s continuing struggles as opposed to the Rangers
staying hot, because it’s impossible to report on anything in which the
Red Sox are involved without casting them in the lead role.

Marlins 10, Rockies 3, Rockies 7, Marlins 3: The class of 1993 splits a doubleheader as they battle for the NL wild card. The Class of 1993 — San Francisco and Atlanta — follow close behind.

Indians 7, Twins 3: Cleveland scored six in the third inning,
with the first three of those runs coming on eight pitches. The Indians
are playing spoiler. Says Grady Sizemore: “Guys are playing loose and
having fun. We had kind of fallen back and now we’ve got nothing to
lose. So now we can go out there and just relax and play, and sometimes
you get your best baseball when you’re playing that way.” That’s swell,
but this happened to the Indians last year too. Perhaps it means that
Eric Wedge inspires nervous, sloppy, and all around chokey play when it
matters, and can only inspire a relaxed vibe when there is absolutely
nothin’ on the line. Guys like that often become ex-managers.

Astros 8, Brewers 5: Geoff Blum drove in four as the Astros
rallied in the eighth inning to come from behind. In other news, the
Astros box score made my mind wander again — my lord, that team fails
to interest me for some reason — and it wandered into the paintings of
Edward Hopper, who just so happens to be my favorite artist. I go back
and forth (and forth) between Early Sunday Morning, Office at Night, and Automat as my favorites, though there are no small number of his paintings
which stun and enthrall me. Strange to me, though, is the fact that a
guy who lived in New York and spent so much time painting modern
American life in the middle of the 20th century never touched on
baseball. At least not that I know of. Maybe it just didn’t speak to
him. Maybe every game he ever saw struck him like Astros games strike

Athletics 3, White Sox 2: Mark Ellis hits the game-winning home run off of Bobby Jenks in the bottom of the ninth. Oh, and I think these throwbacks looked sweet.
Bob Geren even went all Connie Mack before the game, wearing a suit,
tie and hat to exchange the lineup cards before changing into his
uniform. According to the game story, someone gave him hell from the
stands, however, because Connie Mack wore a straw hat. That, my
friends, is some good, informed heckling.

Mariners 10, Yankees 3: Chamberlain, Aceves and Gaudin do their
part to make Sergio Mitre’s seat in the Yankees’ rotation feel less
hot. Derek Jeter passed Luis Aparicio for the most hits ever by a
shortstop. Omar Vizquel is still playing, however, and is only five
hits behind Jeter. If you think that Omar isn’t sitting in his secret
Antarctic lair, watching dozens of video monitors, stroking an exotic
cat, and contemplating some devious sort of attack on Jeter in order to
incapacitate him and claim the record for himself, well, then you just
don’t know the capacity for evil and cunning that resides inside the
mind of Omar Vizquel.

Philles 4, Braves 1: Atlanta blows a chance to make a real race
out of it in the east by dropping two of three. Looks like it’ll be
more important for fans like me to watch the Marlins, Rockies and
Giants’ scores than the Phillies scores. Two homers for Ryan Howard.
J.A. Happ walks six but gets away with it because the Braves squandered
a couple of chances.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: Randy Wolf was 3-4 with a homer and three RBI and struck out ten over 7.2 IP. He’s the Wolf. He solves problems.

Pirates-Cubs: Postponed: It’s really gonna suck for the Pirates
to have to end the season at Cincinnati, jog back up to Chicago to make
this game up, and then head back to Pittsburgh to host Game one of the
division series.

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.

Marlins announcer Tommy Hutton was let go because he was “too negative”

marlins logo wide

We heard earlier this week that Marlins television analyst Tommy Hutton was let go after 19 seasons on the job. By all accounts, he’s well-liked and respected, so it smelled a little fishy with a team that has owner Jeffrey Loria calling the shots. Well, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald was told by a source close to the Marlins that Hutton was let go because he was “too negative.”

Jackson was also able to get in touch with Hutton, who provided some details about how things went down.

“I know there were times I was negative, but I thought those times were called for,” he said. “Ninety percent of what I said was positive. I tried not to be a homer, but you could tell I wanted the Marlins to do well.”

After being told that his salary wasn’t a factor in the decision, Hutton suspected that his candid, blunt analysis might be the impetus for his ouster.

So after learning his fate on Monday, he asked that question – whether they thought he was too negative — to both a Fox producer (at a meeting at Starbucks) and the Marlins’ vice president/communications (by phone).

He said the question was met with silence by both executives.

“I couldn’t get a yes or a no,” he said.

Hutton said there were three incident in recent years where he was told the Marlins were uncomfortable with something he said. He disclosed one example where he was exasperated at the ballpark’s dimensions after former catcher John Buck flew out to the warning track for the final out of a game. He was told by a Marlins vice president after the game that Loria prefer he not talk about the ballpark’s dimensions. Of course, the team is moving in the fences this winter.

To be clear, Hutton said he was told it was a “mutual decision” between the Marlins and FOX to let him go, but Jackson’s source hears that the concern about his “negativity” came from the team.

Hey, do you know the best way to prevent “negative” talk about your team? Fielding a winning baseball team without a dysfunctional ownership and front office. Crazy idea, I know, but it could be cool?