And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Twins 8, Tigers 3: You say the Tigers all but put it away
yesterday? Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens
that the Twins, here, were only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference
between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: Of course with all dead, well, with all
dead there’s usually only one thing you can do. And now that the
Rockies have clinched the Wild Card, we’re simply going through the
Braves’ clothes looking for loose change. Tommy Hanson is some loose
change. He didn’t win, but seven innings of one-run, nine strikeout
ball probably clinched the Rookie of the Year award. More generally
speaking, I’m proud of my team for not mailing in the last month of the
season like so many of us out here in Braves Land thought they would.
Last winter I said this team was really shooting for 2010. Based on how
2009 is ending, 2010 looks pretty good right now.

Rockies 9, Brewers 2: Congratulations Colorado. After the
horrendous start to the season and the canning of Clint Hurdle, I don’t
think anyone gave them a snowball’s chance, but here they are with the
wild card. Well, for now anyway. If they sweep the flaccid Dodgers this
weekend, they win the west. If you’re Colorado, do you try to make that
happen, or do you try to rest regulars over the weekend and hope to get
back at the Dodgers in the NLCS?

Cardinals 13, Reds 0: Somebody obviously rubbed Chris
Carpenter’s balls down properly! Five innings, zero runs, a grand slam
and a two run double. In an effort to extend his campaign of accusation
and gamesmanship, however, La Russa protested the outcome of the game.
Always keep ’em guessing. That’s Tony’s motto.

Red Sox 3, Indians 0: If I were Eric Wedge I’d play this garbage
100% straight. Hold a team meeting before tonight’s game. Give serious
sounding quotes to the media suggesting that I was still passionately
interested in the development of this team. Play it up so much that
someone would feel obligated to subtly remind me that I was fired
already. As for Boston, it had to be nice to see such a strong start
from Lester after last week’s comebacker. The next time we’ll see him
is Game 1 against the Angels.

Astros 5, Phillies 3: Cliff Lee was shaky last night. And down
the stretch in general, going 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his past seven
starts. I guess he’s the Game 1 starter, though who the start will come
against is still to be decided.

Orioles 3, Rays 2: “From the tracks on his arms, large caliber
wound, proximity to a heroin market… I’d say it was a heated dispute
about the symbolism of red and blue in 18th-century French romantic
poetry.” Yeah, I know they won. They still get a H:LOTS quote.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: After questions swirled regarding Kevin
Millwood’s health and whether the Rangers should allow his option to
vest, he comes out and wins his last three starts. This one was a ten
strikeout, 122-pitch complete game, and as the Rangers enter the
offseason, the question of who the veteran anchor of the rotation is
going to be has suddenly disappeared. As for the Angels, this was
merely a tuneup. John Lackey only threw 40 pitches, and he’ll start
Game 1 against the Red Sox.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: A two-run single for Mike Sweeney in
the fifth puts Seattle over the top. Given that he’s at the end of a
one-year contract, it could be Sweeney’s last moment of glory in the
big leagues.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: A day of curtain calls. Rich Aurilia
played in what is almost certainly his last home game for the Giants
and Randy Johnson pitched the ninth inning. I suppose, theoretically,
he can pitch over the weekend in San Diego, but his presence on the
active roster is less about helping the team right now than it is about
going out with his boots on as opposed to the DL. If I’m Bruce Bochy I
let the Big Unit finish his career high-fiving his catcher and
teammates.

Pirates vs. Cubs: Postponed: It’s harder to lose 100 games if you only play 161!

Diamondbacks, A.J. Pollock avoid arbitration with two-year contract

Arizona Diamondbacks center fielder A.J. Pollock drives in two runs against the Cincinnati Reds during the eighth inning of a baseball game, Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
AP Photo/Gary Landers
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Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.

Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.

Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.