And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Tigers 7, Mariners 6: A game-winning RBI single for Clete Thomas
in the ninth got Jarrod Washburn off the hook after yet another dismal
post-trade performance. Thomas had hit a walk-off homer earlier this
season, and after game said this: “It’s not as good as the homer, but
any walk-off is awesome.” Yeah, just ask Ray Chapman. Sorry. Too soon?

Braves 3, Mets 2: Johan Santana falls to 0-7 against Atlanta. He
gave up nine hits and only struck out two in seven innings. Kenshin
Kawakami pitched well, but man, that’s not much of a Mets lineup he
faced.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 2: Russell Martin has been a millstone for the
Dodgers this year, but his sixth inning grand slam broke the tie and
effectively won the game for big blue. Lots of fun game story stuff:
“The Dodgers improved to 1,015-1,014 all-time against the Cubs.” I
think it would be hilarious if either Piniella or Torre used that as a
motivator in a pre-game speech, totally deadpanning how serious they
were about wanting to leave this series with the all-time lead. Also:
“Penny Marshall was a pregame dugout visitor with Dodgers manager Joe
Torre.” What is this, 1983? We’re reporting Penny Marshall sightings?
Has anyone seen Anson Williams lately? Finally: “Chicago native Jim
Belushi got booed when he was spotted wearing a Cubs cap.” You sure it
was the Cubs hat that set off the booing? It’s Jim Belushi. He’d
probably be booed even if he was riding piggy back on Sandy Koufax
while singing “Hail to the Dodgers.” (note to self: write a song called
“Hail to the Dodgers”).

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1: J.D. Drew was 4 for 4 with two homers
and three RBI. Best error of the year so far: Jason Bay is on first
base. Catcher Rod Barajas throws the ball back to Brett Cecil after a
pitch, who drops it. Because no pitcher would ever, ever want to throw
a dirty and possibly scuffed ball, he asks for a new ball from home
plate umpire Greg Gibson. He gets it, and throws the old ball into the
third base dugout. Except he didn’t call time out, which allowed Bay to
move to third on the play. Bay later scored on a single. Heh.

Phillies 12, Diamondbacks 3: Homers from Ryan Howard and Jayson
Werth and eight good innings from Joe Blanton turn this one into a
laugher (Ho-ho-ho, hee-hee-hee, ha-ha-ha . . . see how they smile like
pigs in a sty . . .).

Reds 2, Giants 1: Just-called-up Drew Stubbs hit a walkoff homer
in the tenth to win it. Man, one wonders what would have happened this
year if he had been called up sooner.

Indians 11, Angels 3: Just-called-up Matt LaPorta hit a two-run
double in the sixth that chased John Lackey and busted the game wide
open. Man, one wonders what would have happened this year if he had
been called up sooner.

Astros 4, Marlins 1: Wandy Rodriguez only gave up the one run —
unearned — in eight innings, and added an RBI double in the fifth. The
loss combined with the Braves’ win pulls the Marlins down into a tie
for second in the East with Atlanta, though being 6.5 back makes it all
rather academic. They’re both still four back in the wild card.



Orioles 8, Rays 7: Brian Roberts hit a grand slam and Nolan
Reimold added a three-run shot. Brian Matusz only lastes five and a
third, but he struck out 7 and didn’t walk anybody.

Rockies 4, Nationals 1: Fifth inning, two men on for Colorado,
and Garrett Mock appears to strike out Carlos Gonzalez on a
swing-and-miss. THe Nats walk to the dugout, but then Rockies manager
Jim Tracy comes out to argue that the ball had been tipped, the umps
agree and Gonzalez resumes his at-bat, who proceeds to hit an RBI
double. When was the last time a manager actually got an ump to change
his mind like this? Does Tracy possess the power to perform the Jedi
mind trick?

Cardinals 5, Padres 1: It’s no reason for concern, but Albert
Pujols is 4 for his last 24 with only two extra base hits. Thankfully,
however, he’s getting some help from his teammates these days and the
Cards really didn’t need him against the Pads last night. Joel Pineiro
was strong once again, and Brendan Ryan hit a grand slam. This quote
from Pineiro is troubling, however: “The big grand slam by Ryno kind of
gave me a little bit of extra breathing room to settle down and go out
there and work.” Cardinals players are allowed to be nicknamed “Ryno?”
What if Carlos Zambrano started calling himself Old Hoot and Geovany
Soto started being referred to as “The Man?”

Rangers 11, Twins 1: Marlon Byrd had two homers and had a slick
diving catch in left. Nelson Cruz returned from the DL with a homer of
his own. Cruz’s replacement, Julio Borbon, went 3-for-5 with three RBI,
and is hitting .536 (15-for-28) in seven starts since being called up.
Someone had better check and see if Neftali Feliz is OK, though, as he
only struck out one dude in 1.2 innings instead of the three or four
we’ve come to expect.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.