And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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Cardinals 5, Brewers 1: Albert Pujols hits two homers and Adam
Wainwright throws seven shutout innings to claim his 18th win. Tony La
Russa was asked after the game if Pujols should win the MVP. What’s
Tony say? “Those are the kind of questions that are distracting and I
don’t answer them.” Pujols is hitting .331 with 47 homers and 124 RBIs
and is the most important player to the St. Louis Cardinals since
Musial retired and you can’t go way the hell out on a limb to say that,
yeah, in your considered opinion he’s the MVP? Christ on a crutch,
Tony, this is why so many people can’t stand you.

Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 3: L.A. walks in the winning run– or
losing run, depending on how you view these things — in the ninth.
Before the winning/losing walk, however, there was a runner on third,
and Torre offered intentional passes to two Dbacks to load the bases.
I’ve never understood that move, especially with less than two outs.
Colorado is 2.5 back.

Astros 2, Braves 1: I’m guessing that after this one, Javier
Vazquez took young Tommy Hanson aside and told him that this is just
how pitching for the 2009 Braves goes, ya know? Eight innings, no runs,
no walks, seven strikeouts, no decision and the team loses because they
simply can’t score any runs. Oh, and Rafael Soriano is a shell of
whatever he was for those handful of games over the past couple of
years when he actually looked good. Bobby Cox: sit everyone down who
has a future with this team, play out the rest of the season with
whatever organizational soldiers you can muster, and regroup for 2010.

Marlins 6, Mets 3: The Mets took their team photo before the
game, with Jose Reyes, Johan Santana and Carlos Delgado in uniform. I
hope the stadium was closed to the fans at the time, because if not,
that’s pretty damn cruel, ain’t it?

Twins 4, Blue Jays 1: After a stellar start his last time out,
Roy Halladay’s nightmare second half continues. Well, nightmare is a
relative term — he pitched well despite taking the loss — but when
Carl Pavano outshines you, it’s not your best day. The crowd — 11,159
— was the smallest in the 20-year history of Rogers Centre/Sky Dome.
In the Jays’ defense, the Leafs’ rookie team was playing a preseason game in Kitchener last night.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 5: A pinch hit, three-run double from Victor
Martinez helps the Sox maintain their two-game lead over Texas. And if
you’ll pardon the partisanship here, allow me to say that in light of
the thirteen pitchers used and the 3:41 it took for this nine-inning
affair, I’m rooting like hell that the Rangers eke these guys out so
that I can get to bed at a decent hour once the playoffs start.

Phillies 6, Nationals 5: And your closer is . . . Ryan Madson.
This despite the fact that Manuel sorta kinda put his support behind
Lidge on Tuesday night. Having Manuel say that and then send Madson out
is the baseball equivalent of having your boss tell you how much he
likes you and then turning around and deactivating your keycard.

Padres 4, Giants 2: If the Giants want to look anywhere when
trying to figure out why they never caught the Rockies this year, they
can look at their 6-9 record against the Padres. Heath Bell is tied for
the league lead with 27 saves. Not bad for a team currently in a
dogfight to avoid last place.

Yankees 4, Rays 2: Another one of those silly three-inning Joba
Chamberlain starts doesn’t prevent the Yankees from handing the Rays
their eighth straight loss. And oh yeah, Jeter tied Gehrig for the team
lead in hits. I know no one is really tracking that, so I thought I’d
remind everyone.

Cubs 8, Pirates 5: Carlos Zambrano wins for the first time since
July 22nd as the Pirates just go through the motions and their fans
await Steelers and Penguins season.

Rangers 10, Indians 0: I’m guessing Marlon Byrd would like to
hit against Cleveland every day (2-4, HR 4 RBI). Esteban German, too,
as he went 5 for 5. Fausto Carmona lasted two whole thirds of an
inning, and from the looks of him, if the Indians are planning on
entering spring training 2010 counting on him to be in the rotation,
they’re deluding themselves.

Rockies 4, Reds 3: The Reds take the lead on a Scott Rolen homer
in the top of the ninth, but lose it on a Francisco Cordero meltdown in
the bottom of the ninth.

Royals 5, Tigers 1: Break up the Royals, as they’ve won three in
a row. Verlander takes the loss, which is relevant only insofar as it
relates to his Cy Young chances. Fernando Rodney probably has a beef
with the suspension he was given, but one wonders why he didn’t just
accept it and sit these games out against the Royals. He appealed,
however, and allowed himself the opportunity to give up three runs on
two hits with a walk in a basically meaningless game.

White Sox 4, Athletics 3: Tons of zeros put up by the bullpens
in this 13-inning affair. Octavio Dotel’s three scoreless innings to
end it were the most important.

Angels 6, Mariners 3: Jered Weaver allows two runs in six and a
third, and the Angels, unlike the Dodgers, keep their lead over the
upstart team behind them.

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.