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: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.