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

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

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.