And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Crawford Upton.jpgRays 4, Orioles 3: Opening Day comes a day late for the Rays and Orioles. And only the Rays and Orioles. Why they didn’t get to play on Monday when everyone else did is beyond me. Maybe there was a gun show or a regional numismatic convention scheduled for the Trop over the weekend and they needed Monday to staple down the turf or something.  No matter, because it was worth the wait for the Rays, as they beat up Baltimore’s new closer Mike Gonzalez, who struck out Pat Burrell and then proceeded to give up a single, a double, intentionally walked a guy and then blew the game on a two-run single by Carl Crawford. That effort ended up wasting homers by Luke Scott, Adam Jones and Matt Weiters.  Rafael Soriano gets the win for the Rays despite allowing three base runners in his only inning of work. So basically, a decidedly “meh” night for former Braves closers. UPDATE: Word is now coming in that Gene Garber came up snake eyes while trying to hit on a waitress at Hoss’s Steak and Sea in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania last night as well, tipping the scale from “meh” to “ugh.”

Yankees 6, Red Sox 4: Kind of a see-saw affair that ended with
the Yankees’ pen working how they drew it up in the offseason: shutout
ball capped off by Joba and Mariano Rivera shutting the door. Four
innings of shutout ball, though, which is probably more than Joe Girardi
had wanted with A.J. Burnett on the mound, but Burnett wasn’t exactly
efficient or effective in his five innings. The winning run came when a
Scutaro throwing error allowed Jeter to reach on what what would have been out
number three followed by a Nick Johnson walk with the bases loaded. Oh, and I’ll stop mentioning that these guys play long and boring games when they stop playing long and boring games. This one: 3:48.

Giants 3, Astros 0
: The ‘Stros do worse against Barry Zito than they did against Lincecum. Zito had help, as five Giants pitchers combined for the shutout, but Barry handled six of those innings. Jeff Keppinger may have been robbed of a home run in the sixth when a ball he hit appeared to bounce off the yellow line on top of the left field wall yet was called a double by the umpires, who conferred for a bit after the play. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Ump 1: Anyone see that?
Ump 2: I think it hit below the line.
Ump 1: You think or you know?
Ump 2: I, um, I can’t say.
Ump 3: Man, if there were only some way we could see that again so we could get the call right.
Ump 4: Sadly, no. The means have not yet been invented. Hey: anyone want to share a carriage with me to the nickelodeon theatre after the game? I hear there’s a humdinger of a moving picture playing. Then perhaps we can get hard candy, play ukuleles in canoes, and ride bicycles with giant front wheels while twirling our mustaches and singing jaunty tunes!
Umps 1, 2 and 3:  That sounds swell!

UPDATE: As many of you have noted in the comments — and as I completely missed — the umps did review Keppinger’s hit as a boundary call, just like the rules call for. Most people think they still got the call wrong. And life goes on.  Glad I didn’t realize this before I wrote the post because then I would have been deprived of writing the whole nickelodeon/big wheel bicycle sequence, and I had a lot of fun with that.

Brewers 7, Rockies 5: An unspectacular yet useful enough Brewers debut by Randy Wolf (6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 8K) was supported by Casey McGehee’s three-run homer in the first inning which gave the Brew Crew a lead they would not relinquish. Greg Smith (5 IP, 4 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 HR) isn’t anyone’s idea of a number two starter and he didn’t do anything to change anyone’s mind about it.

Twins 5, Angels 3: Starting pitcher with new contract: check (Blackburn, 6 IP, 3 R, 8 H, 4 BB, 4K).  Franchise catcher with new contract: check (Mauer, two run HR). Unexpected new closer: check (Rauch, first save with 2Ks and no baserunners).

Athletics 2, Mariners 1: Don Wakamatsu, I love you and everything, but if you keep encapsulating everything that matters in pithy little postgame quotes like this, I’ll be out of a job: “It’s really the offense. From 4-9 we were 1 for 24 and that’s the story
of this ballgame. The story comes down to not scoring runs. We scored
the one on a wild pitch and that was it.” I’ll merely add that it’s a story that he should get used to. And it won’t hold up to repeated readings like, say, Isaac Asimov’s “Nightfall.”

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3: Chris Young’s first start since last June 14th was quite the success (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5K). Which had to be galling for the Diamondbacks because Brandon Webb is coming off the same surgery Young had back in August and he can’t even really throw yet.  Pfun Pfact: While Arizona’s Chris Young hit an RBI double off of Luke Gregerson, he is 0 for 16 in his career against San Diego’s
Chris Young. It’s like having an arch nemesis doppleganger, but different.

Korean slugger Byung-ho Park is reportedly traveling to Minnesota

Byung-ho Park

Could the Twins and Korean slugger Byung-ho Park be close to finalizing a contract?

According to Naver Sports (via a translated report from Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press), Park is scheduled to travel to the United States on Sunday. The 29-year-old is expected to make a quick stop in Chicago to meet with his agent, Alan Nero, before coming to Minnesota to see Twins officials and take a physical exam. If all goes well, a contract could be finalized as soon as next week.

The Twins bid $12.85 million last month to secure exclusive negotiating rights with Park. The deadline to complete a deal is December 8. If a deal is not worked out, Park would remain with the Nexen Heroes in the KBO (Korea Baseball Organization) and the Twins would not have to pay the posting fee.

Right now, it’s unclear how far along the two sides are in negotiations. However, Berardino hears that a guarantee in the range of $20-30 million is reasonable to expect.

Park, a two-time MVP in the KBO, has amassed 105 home runs in 268 games over the past two seasons. It’s hard to tell how those numbers will translate, even after the success of Jung Ho Kang this season, but the Twins are hoping he can be a middle-of-the-order force.

Miami Police Department considers Yasiel Puig case closed

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig waits to bat during batting practice prior to a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics, Wednesday, July 29, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

We have more details about Yasiel Puig‘s reported “brawl” at a bar in Miami. And while it’s a regrettable situation, it appears to be less serious than previously believed.

According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Major Delrish Moss of the Miami Police Department confirmed that Puig was involved in a fight with a bouncer. However, Moss described it more as a “scuffle” than a “brawl.” The Dodgers outfielder suffered injuries to his face, including a swollen left eye, while the bouncer was left with a “busted lip” among other minor facial injuries.

While the bouncer alleged that he was sucker-punched by Puig, Moss said that neither were interested in pressing charges. As a result, the Miami Police Department considers the case closed.

TMZ reported that the fight with the bouncer took place after Puig got into a physical altercation with his sister. However, Moss said that “no shoving was alleged” and that “to the best of our knowledge, the only physical altercation was between the bouncer and Puig.”

Major League Baseball is still expected to investigate the incident under their new domestic violence policy.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.