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.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.