And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 9, Mets 7: Unassisted triple plays are cool and all, but they’re really more about luck than anything else, aren’t they? You hit the ball to just the wrong place at just the wrong time and bam-bam-bam it’s over. Oftentimes the middle infielder who turns the thing isn’t even 100% sure he’s done it until he looks around a bit, tags a guy he forced out just to be sure, etc., because it’s really more a matter of reflex than anything else. It’s sort of like most inside the park home runs (like the one Angel Pagan hit earlier in this game): happenstance or maybe a bad play on the part of the opposition makes it possible. So, even though I’d love to rag on Jeff Francoeur for hitting into one of these things or praise Eric Bruntlett for turning it, blame and credit has to go to chance more than anyone.

Cardinals 5, Padres 2: Before people start talking about how wrong the Sox were to release Smoltz, or how much worse the NL is than the AL, or how the release motivates Smoltz or any of that, let us just remember that yesterday’s strong performance (5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 9K) came against the worst offense in baseball, playing in the friendliest pitchers’ park in baseball.

Cubs 3, Dodgers 1: The Cubs salvage one, as Jake Fox goes 4 for 4 with a homer and two RBI. Game story: “[Ryan Dempster] credited his breakfast of ‘pancakes and a little bowl of whip-your-butt cereal’ for his solid outing.” I can only assume he got the cereal from this chick.UPDATE:  Sadly, the nice lady in Los Angeles who advertised her butt-whipping services has taken her ad down. Still, it’s L.A., so if you’re interested in getting “the Ryan Demptser treatment,” I’m sure there are still many places you can find such a service.

Yankees 8, Red Sox 4: Three game series between the Sox and Yanks: 58 runs scored, game times of 3:57, 3:17, 3:13, and not one single extra inning. Watching the Yankees play the Red Sox is like watching WAC football from the 1980s. If the AL East is the best baseball has to offer, baseball can friggin’ keep it.

Athletics 9, Tigers 4: Jack Cust hit two homers, Landon Powell hit one, and Brett Tomko of all people continues to pitch like an ace. The win brings him to 98-101 for his career. For purely subjective reasons — including the fact that Tomko is my age and the fact that I have a soft spot for journeyman swingmen, I’d like to see him even up that record before the end of the season.

Orioles 5, White Sox 4: Mark Buehrle has had one decent start since his perfect game (which the Sox lost, but that’s neither here nor there). Beat up again yesterday for five runs on eleven hits in five and a third, one wonders what the heck has happened to the guy. He’s not walking a ton of guys. He’s just getting pounded. As for the Sox, they just played six against the Royals and Orioles at home, and they split those. You’d think that a playoff team wins four or five against those teams. If they finish one or two behind the Tigers, that little stretch may look pretty big in hindsight.

Rangers 4, Rays 0: Scott Feldman was on (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 11K). Chip Caray and Buck Martinez weren’t, however, so instead of this game, I watched . . .

Indians 6, Mariners 1: The Tribe beat up on Felix Hernandez, chasing him in the four-run sixth inning and Fausto Carmona (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8K) looked better than than I’ve seen him since 2007. Jhonny Peralta iht an RBI single, ohmered, and reahced on error and came ohme to score.

Rockies 4, Giants 2: Jiminez beats Lincecum, and the Rockies have extended their wild card lead over the Giants by taking two of three thus far in the series. This is a wraparound, though, so the Giants have a shot to get back where they were on Friday morning with a win tonight.

Twins 10, Royals 3: Mike Cuddyer homered twice. Kyle Farnsworth, the man whose presence in the pen required that Alex Gordon be sent down to Omaha — gave up five runs on five hits in one inning of work.



Reds 4, Pirates 1: With this won the Reds are now .005 points
ahead of the Pirates in the Central! This one is going down to the
wire, folks! Pirates starter Kevin Hart: “I don’t think you’re going to
win a lot of games at this level throwing the ball like I did today.”
He’s right. And just imagine how bad a day it would have been for him
at the Major League level.

Nationals 8, Brewers 3: I mock the Reds and Pirates, but the
Brewers are closer to them in the standings than they are to the
Cardinals. As for the Nats, a win tomorrow in the finale of this series
and they’ll be at .500 since the break. Not bad for a team that has
rarely looked as bad this season as their record indicates.

Blue Jays 8, Angels 3: I think the Jays, at least when
Halladay doesn’t start, are like the AL’s version of the Astros for me
in that I can rarely find anything on interest in their box scores.
Something fun from the AP story, though, was the fact that Vladimir
Guerrero fouled off a pitch that bounced in the dirt in the ninth. He’s
Vlad, though, and that’s just what he does.

Braves 7, Marlins 5: Brian McCann provided the bookends to the
scoring in this one with a three run homer in the first and a two-run
single in the eighth which proved to be the game winner.

Diamondbacks 7, Astros 5: Arizona halts a seven game losing
streak. The Dbacks drew five walks, which was a big deal, because
before those, not a single player on the team had walked since last
Monday.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.