And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Twins 3, Tigers 2; Tigers 6, Twins 5: Porcello and Blackburn were each tough in game one, but Verlander wasn’t matched by Duensing in Game 2, putting his team in a 5-0 hole. A seriously long day for these two teams, and despite all of the drama, now they’re back (back) where they started, here they go ’round again. Day after day they get up and they’ll say, they have to do it again. Two more times.

Marlins 5, Braves 4: A three run homer from Matt Diaz to tie it up in the 6th had me dancing the dance of joy, but the Braves just couldn’t get over. When Chipper hit into that double play in the ninth all the air came out of the room. They can’t win every damn game, even if it seems like they can lately. The Rockies have to lose once in a while.

Rockies 7, Brewers 5: Crap, they didn’t lose. At first I was all prepared to write this one up as a 5-2 Rockies win last night when all of a sudden Kendall hit that three-run homer off Street. Jason effin’ Kendall. WATFO? But then Chris Iannetta does it his own self? Mercy. Oh well, I still have that NL East pipe dream I was harboring for a couple of hours yesterday . . .

Phillies 7, Astros 4: Double crap. I suppose it was too much to ask the Astros to lay the smackdown on the defending champs. The Phillies’ magic number is now one.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: Jay Bruce hit two home runs. Homer Bailey pitched well. Joey Votto blasted one. This is sort of how Cincinnati drew it up in 2008 or so. Better late than never, I suppose. And the hot finish is likely enough to keep Reds’ fans warm over the winter.

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 7: Take that, Jay Bruce: Adam Lind hit three home runs. Take that Adam Lind: Papelbon plunked Lind on the elbow his last time up. Classy as ever, Jonathan. The Red Sox clinched the wild card when the Rangers lost later in the evening (see below), but they really can’t be happy with this last week. Five straight losses. A circa late-July, early-August Clay Buchholz performance. Anaheim won’t lose to Boston in the first round forever, you know, and this year is looking pretty ripe for a change of pace.

Cubs 6, Pirates 0: I know he had the shutout going, but I’d like to think that at least a small part of the reason Lou Piniella left Dempster in there to finish the game was to show John Russell that the home crowd will give a pitcher a standing ovation even after the ballgame is over.

Rays 3, Orioles 1: Twelve straight losses for the O’s. There hasn’t been this much carnage in Baltimore since Junior Bunk opened fire in the squad room at the end of season six.

Nationals 4, Mets 3: Break up the Nats, who have won two in a row. They count as wins, even if they come at the expense of the Mets.

Yankees 4, Royals 3: The Cardinals clinched and have gone on a big slide. The Yankees clinched and haven’t lost since. This has to be a good sign, right? Let us consult some teams who entered the playoffs on a hot streak: 2005, 2006 and 2007 Yankees, what say you? Hmmm, they’re not answering. Maybe we should talk to some teams who stumbled to the end of the regular season: 2005 White Sox, 2006 Cardinals and 2007 Red Sox, wasn’t it a nightmare entering the playoffs with no momentum?

Angels 5, Rangers 2: Good night Rangers. All the more depressing for Rangers fans to have it happen against a second string Angels lineup and a spot starter. At the beginning of the season I picked the Rangers to win the west. Based on everyone else’s picks, I was pretty much alone in thinking they’d do anything. Well, they did a lot, and they have nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a good foundation here and a good future. They will be back.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1: I suppose they’ll clinch eventually, but in the meantime, losing a lot of games to the Padres and Pirates of the world can’t feel too nice. And really, between St. Louis, Los Angeles, and Philly, is there any NL team that wants to at least act like they have a shot in the postseason? Poor effort down the stretch, division leaders, really poor effort.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 4: Those two home runs by Bengie Molina probably bought him another million in contract negotiations with Brian Sabean (but not any sane GM the Giants could hire or who works for another team). Probably bought Buster Posey another month in AAA or on the pine, too. Bruce Bochy: “We don’t know what’s going to happen and Bengie doesn’t know what’s going to happen. I do know he’s done a great job here. We wouldn’t be in this position … without Bengie.” What position is that, Bruce? Outside of the playoffs looking in despite a superior pitching staff by virtue of you having black holes every where you look on offense?

Mariners 6, Athletics 4: Did we see our last ever Ken Griffey, Jr. home run in this one? If so, the circumstances — a three-run job against a kid who was a year old when Junior debuted, at home, that essentially put the game away — is a fine way to go out. 628.

White Sox vs. Indians: Postponed: They could cancel it outright, but then they’d deprive the Indians of the dozens of dollars they stand to make in beer and hot dog sales during the makeup game later today.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.