And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Giants 9, Rockies 5: What a difference a week makes. Heck, not
even a week. Six days after the Rockies beat the Giants on a grand
slam, the Giants do it to the Rockies, courtesy of Edgar Renteria.
Given the Dodgers’ relatively uninteresting play lately, I think I’m
going to squint my eyes until the end of the season and pretend that
this is a bonafide pennant race as opposed to a wild card race.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 0: Papa-oom-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow-mow,
papa-oom-mow-mow, papa-ooma-mow-mow (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Not that we
should be surprised. Byrd has always done well on 340 days rest.

Royals 3, Mariners 0: More dominance from Zack Greinke (CG, SHO
1 H). We can only hope that the writers are smart enough to realize
come awards voting time that Greinke’s win total is a function of his
team. Given the extremes involved here, I think they will. If he had
won 15-16 wins for a middling team like the Twins or the Brewers,
someone would be tempted to say that Greinke wasn’t a “winner.” That
many wins with a profoundly terrible Royals team will be viewed as a
positive rather than a negative. In other words, he’ll get the Steve
Carlton-in-72 vote.

Angels 9, Athletics 1: After the game, John Lackey talked about
how this Angels team compares to the 2002 team which won the World
Series and on which he made his debut: “Several guys on that ’02 team
will tell you we might not have been the best team, but we were hot . .
. That ’02 team was more of an offense-based team, for sure. We didn’t
pitch that well.” That’s so right. Except for the fact that the 2002
Angels were tied for the best ERA and allowed the fewest runs per game
in the American League.

Brewers 4, Pirates 1: Jeff Suppan won on his bobblehead day. In other news, there’s a Jeff Suppan bobblehead day.

Cardinals 2, Nationals 1: Adam Wainwright won on his bobblehead
day. This is somewhat more defensible. Though to be honest, I’d rather
have the Suppan, just for the sake of randomness.

Tigers 4, Rays 3: This is the kind of game the Rays were winning
a year ago. There’s not some magical explanation to it. The pendulum
just swings, ya know?

Mets 4, Cubs 1: Nelson Figueroa (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 10K, RBI) was
a one man team. Really, it was just him, playing all nine positions
like Bugs Bunny vs. the Gashouse Gorillas because the rest of the Mets
are on the DL.

Twins 5, Rangers 3: The Twins scored three runs in the eighth
via a variety of unconventional means, after which Ron Gardenhire said
“We kind of knick-knacked them a little bit.” I think that means that
instead of being pummeled, the Rangers were Hummeld.

Yankees 8, White Sox 3: The Yankees keep winning, and because
they’re doing so well, they continue to mess with Joba Chamberlain,
yanking him after 35 pitches despite there being nothing wrong with
him. At the risk of sounding like one of those cranky old pitchers from
the 60s and 70s, I can’t help but think that Chamberlain is going to
turn out like that kid you knew whose parents would never let leave the
house growing up and then got alcohol poisoning the same week he went
away to college because he had no perspective or life experience. Sure,
you don’t want to let him kill himself now, but there are worse things
in the world than letting the boy pitch and get knocked around a bit.

Orioles 5, Indians 2: Brian Matusz has the best start of his
very, very young career, and spends a lot of time in the game story
talking about how he overcame his initial struggles with adjustments
and video and all of that. The fact that he was facing the Indians
didn’t hurt either.

Marlins 6, Padres 4: “It was a tough weekend for us and today
was nice to salvage the series,” Cody Ross said after the game. The
Padres took two of three. If they had lost the first one and won the
second two, no one on the Marlins would be talking about how the win on
Friday “salvaged the series.” Likewise, if they had won Saturday’s game
but lost on the bookends, no one would feel too good about things. I
use that phrase all the time, but games are games are games.

Dodgers 3, Reds 2: Dodgers pitchers combined to strike out 20
Reds. Nine of those Ks came in the 8th-12th innings, dooming
Cincinnati’s chances to get anything going. Clayton Kershaw still
hasn’t won a game since mid-July, despite the fact that he has a
sub-3.00 ERA since then.

Diamondbacks 4, Astros 3: Arizona won the game, but closer Chad
Qualls dislocated his kneecap on the last play of the game and will
probably be done for the year. I’m one of the more squeamish people I
know. Seriously, my daughter lost her first tooth a couple of weeks ago
and was out of commission for hours. But nothing makes me cringe more
than thinking about kneecap injuries. Really, it’s taken me ten minutes
to just write this individual recap out because I’ve been alternating
between mild nausea and frantic rubbing of my own kneecaps in an effort
to somehow make the horror of that kind of injury erase itself from my
thoughts.

Phillies 3, Braves 2: Games like this don’t make me feel too hot
either. First Chipper throws away the bunt in the seventh, and then
Garret Anderson just butchers the Carlos Ruiz “double” that put the
Phillies ahead for good. Continued failure to support Jurrjens. Just —
further failure. At times like these I have to remember that, for most
of the year anyway, I’ve been on the “2010 is the Braves’ year” train,
believing that the team brass was really thinking that too, even if
they could never admit it. I still think that’s right, but that little
hot streak earlier this month is the kind of thing that makes you
forget.

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.