And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 5, Reds 1: Jose Contreras had to leave the game in the
third inning with angina or dropsy or consumption or whatever the hell
it is that 86 year-old people get all the time. Didn’t matter though,
because at this point the Rockies could probably put the 1985
Hackensack Bulls in the lineup — including both Richard Pryor and John
Candy in their current conditions — and still keep winning. Case in
point: Jason Giambi, your starting first baseman yesterday. He hasn’t
played much since coming to Colorado, but against all odds he’s done
well when given the chance (1-3, 2B 2 RBI yesterday). When Giambi
started hitting home runs with those mid-90s A’s teams I used to get
him confused with Matt Stairs. Now that his career is winding down and
he’s providing some fat guy pop off the bench, I’m starting to get him
confused with Matt Stairs again.

Nationals 8, Phillies 7: The Phillies almost came back in the
ninth inning, scoring five runs but falling just short. How much you
wanna bet that Charlie Manuel is secretly happy that they didn’t score
seven that inning, thereby forcing him to figure out what to do with a
one-run lead in the ninth?

Royals 7, Tigers 4: Four straight wins for the Royals. Four
straight games in which Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk. Coincidence?
Well, yeah, probably, but that doesn’t make either of those things any
less amazing.

Marlins 13, Mets 4: Yesterday Bud Selig,
in response to a question about competitive balance, said “By the way,
there have been teams with high payrolls and have drawn a lot of people
who have been stunning disappointments.” I wonder who he was talking
about? The game story described the Mets as “listless.” That’s fine,
but how are they fixed for hap?

Blue Jays 3, Twins 2: Another painfully small crowd in Toronto
last night. No hockey to report. Hmmm, why might they not have drawn
well . . . I’m going with Cirque du Soleil’s Ovo,
which was playing at the Grand Chapiteau at Port Lands. It is, after
all, a headlong rush into a colorful ecosystem teeming with life, where
insects work, eat, crawl, flutter, play, fight and look for love in a
non-stop riot of energy and movement, and that sounds way better than a
late season Jays’ game, doesn’t it?

Braves 9, Astros 7: ESPN’s little teaser feature had this game
on the sidebar yesterday, saying “another solid pitching duel tonight,
with Derek Lowe towing the mound for ATL.” How the hell does one “tow a
mound?” Toe a rubber maybe? And screw it, they were wrong about the
pitching duel anyway: Roy Oswalt got bombarded for six runs on ten hits
in two innings. Derek Lowe’s tow truck must have broken down too,
because he wasn’t a ton better (5.2 IP, 9 H. 5 ER).

Angels 3, Mariners 0: John Lackey pitched a five hit shutout,
striking out seven — he got Ichiro twice, which is kind of amazing —
and walking one. Branch Rickey Award winner Torii Hunter hit a two run
homer. Probably worth noting that this west coast game ended before the
eastern time Steelers-Titans game did. Even better, it didn’t end with
the losing team not having a chance to play offense. I’d list all the
other reasons why it was superior to football, but I’m going on a trip
next week and therefore won’t have the time to get to them all.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.