And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Velez jersey.jpgGiants 10, Astros 4: Edgar Renteria and Aaron Rowand combine to go 9 for 11 with four RBI. Nineteen hits in all for San Francisco, who pretty much abused the Astros for the past three days. And they didn’t care how they looked doing it, as infielder Eugenio Velez took the field wearing a jersey that read “San Francicso”

Yankees 3, Red Sox 1: The Bosox got a great start from John Lackey (6
IP, 3 H, 0 ER), but he was nearly matched by Andy Pettitte. Der DifferenceMacher, however, was Chan Ho Park, who pitched three
scoreless innings in relief and was the pitcher of record when Curtis
Granderson hit a homer off John Papelbon in the 10th. No errors. Good
pitching. A game that, had it ended in regulation, would have come in
just under the three hour wire. I call this progress. Oh, and David
Ortiz had an RBI single, so the Boston press corps can go make up a new
drama du jour. May I suggest beating up on Jonathan Papelbon for a few
days or perhaps running a multi-part series about whether it’s time to
start freaking out that Kevin Youkilis went hitless last night.

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 4: You know, if Vernon Wells keeps up his
.714/.778/2.000 line all year he may just make that contract
into a winner for the Blue Jays yet.  Wells hit his second and third
home run of the season in this one. Rich Harden was pretty atrocious for the
Rangers, leaving the game after two straight bases loaded walks. Ninety
pitches in less than four innings for The Man Who Would be Millwood.

Marlins 7, Mets 6: The Mets were down 6-1, but battled back in the
seventh and eighth to tie it at six. But they could have been ahead by
then if it wasn’t for a Fernando Tatis brain fart. In the seventh the Mets were rallying and loaded the
bases with two out for David Wright. Tatis was on third. The
first pitch to Wright went wild and Tatis broke for home. Not wild
enough, however, as John Baker recovered, tossed the ball to Veras covering home and tagged Tatis out, ending the
rally and the inning. If anyone is curious to see how that is going over
with Mets fans this morning, I suggest you get on Twitter and search
for “Tatis.”  Guy may want to enroll in the witness protection program
today.

Rays 4, Orioles 3: Matt Garza was pretty stingy, allowing only two runs
over eight innings, striking out nine and giving up only four hits. Evan
Longoria homered and drove in three. Rafael Soriano was shaky again but
got the save. But he wasn’t the only former Braves closer that had
problems last night: word on the street is that Joe Boever got into a
fistfight while dining at Citizen
Kane’s Steakhouse in Kirkwood, Missouri
. Seems each time he asked
the waiter how much the Chicken Xanadu would set him back, the guy
responded by saying “Cost?! NO MAN CAN SAY!”  Frankly, I’m taking
Boever’s side on this one, because that kind of garbage gets old really
quick.

Braves 3, Cubs 2: With the exception of an RBI double Jason Heyward absolutely ripped down the right field line in the second, Ryan Dempster and Sean Marshall handcuffed the Braves for seven innings, striking out 11 and keeping just about anyone else from hitting the ball with anything even resembling authority. That changed when John Grabow came in for the eighth and gave up a double to Martin Prado followed by a bomb on a 3-1 pitch to Chipper Jones. Billy Wagner came in for the ninth throwing pure gas, some totally unfair sliders and striking out the side for his first save since June of 2008. This was so totally a game the 2006-2009 Braves would have lost.

Cardinals 6, Reds 3: Johnny Cueto didn’t let Albert Pujols hurt him — gave up a walk, struck him out and induced a fly ball — but the bullpen wasn’t as lucky. Pujols hit an RBI single off something called Logan Ondrusek in the seventh, followed by an RBI double from Matt Holliday and an RBI single from David Freese, breaking a 2-2 tie and giving Adam Wainwright the victory. The Reds, obviously still stinging over the fact that they don’t get the season’s first game anymore, billed this one as “Opening Night” and ran multiple promotions for it. Not sure what’s sadder: that they felt the need to do this or that it actually worked, drawing a pretty big crowd for a Wednesday night in the Queen City.

Phillies 8, Nationals 4: That’s the thing about Jason Marquis: he takes the ball every fifth day, dadgummit, and that’s what pros do. Sure, he gets lit up most of those days, but you can’t question the heart of a competitor! Six runs on eight hits with three walks thrown in for flavor in the space of four innings last night, with the big blow being Ryan Howard’s two-run homer in the fifth that should be due to clear Mongolian air space within the hour.  The Nats’ rightfielder Mike Morse left the game with a leg injury in this one. Time to flash the Elijah Dukes signal, Commissioner Rizzo?

Pirates 4, Dodgers 3: Russ and Ramon Ortiz both pitched in this one for L.A. which is rather disorienting if you merely read the box scores like I do. Until I read more closely I had figured the Dodgers had cloned Russ for some reason. Ramon gets the loss here, though, giving up an RBI single to Ronny Cedeno in the bottom of the 10th. Five innings of shutout relief for the Buccos bullpen, by the way.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: Walking six guys in as many innings is no way to go through life, Fausto Carmona, but I suppose if you only give up one hit we’ll let you off the hook. “Effectively wild?” “Lucky as hell?”  Doesn’t matter. The Tribe won.

Brewers 5, Rockies 4: With the exception of some late pinch hitting, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe and Chris Iannetta all got the day off. On day three of the season. And the Rockies lost by one. Someone tell me if we’re still supposed to pretend that Jim Tracy is genius or if that was limited to last season. For Milwaukee, Jim Edmonds started again and went 2 for 4 with a double and a couple of runs and the bullpen — which is an obvious strength for the Brewers — held Colorado scoreless for five innings.

Royals 3, Tigers 2: I’m sure most Royals fans figured it was over when Kyle Farnsworth gave up a run in the top of the 11th to make it 2-1 Detroit, but Kansas City roared back in the bottom of the inning, scoring two off Jose Valverde on an Alberto Callaspo home run and a Rick Ankiel double (with the run scoring on a Scott Sizemore error). Farnsworth still gets the win, of course. Because he’s a winner. And knows how to win. If Bert Blyleven had Farnsworth’s kind of winnerness about him, he’d be in the Hall of Fame right now.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 3: Kelly Johnson pays early dividends on the Dbacks’ investment in him with two long home runs. “That happens sometimes when you’re not thinking about trying to hit a
homer,” Johnson said after the game. Kind of like messin’ around and gettin’ a triple double. Chris Young and Justin Upton also went deep. Another newcomer — Ian Kennedy — had some trouble in the second inning, giving up three runs, but struck out eight and allowed no runs in any of his other four innings.

Athletics 6, Mariners 5: This was the third nail-biter in a row for these two teams, with the score tied at five heading into the ninth before Kurt Suzuki’s walkoff RBI double. Suzuki had also tied the game in the seventh with another RBI double. If he had one more he would have messed around and gotten a triple double. Um, OK, not as funny the second time, I realize that.  Justin Duchscherer made his first start since 2008, allowing five runs in five and two-thirds, but the A’s bullpen blanked the M’s over the rest of the game.

Twins 4, Angels 2: Carl Pavano was sharp (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 6K) and made his way out of a couple of jams in the second and fourth innings. J.J. Harday and Morneau each went deep for the second straight night. Jon Rauch gave up a run and two hits in a save situation, but he has wicked neck tattoos, so it’s all good.

Alex Rodriguez lands on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez follows through on a single to right off a pitch from Texas Rangers' Shawn Tolleson in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. The Yankees lost 3-2. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez strained his right hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles. The club announced it has placed him on the 15-day disabled list and recalled pitcher James Pazos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rodriguez lands on DL hitting .194/.275/.444 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 80 plate appearances.

Dustin Ackley replaced Rodriguez in Tuesday’s game, but the Yankees will likely cycle a handful of players in and out of the DH spot while Rodriguez heals.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn
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We were treated to a handful of games this afternoon but we still have eight night games left. Let’s talk about the Phillies.

I wrote this preview of the Phillies just before the season started, predicting them to win only 65 games, which would mark only a marginal improvement over their 63-win season last year. In my defense, I wasn’t alone, as almost every expert as well as the projections had them finishing under 70 wins. And yet, here they are 27 games into the season with 16 wins. That’s on pace for a 96-win season. What the heck.

Aaron Nola pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday, marking the Phillies’ sixth shutout of the year, the best mark in the majors. Even as the Phillies prepared to draft him, Nola was described as “major league ready” but no one expected him to be quite this dominant. In his first 19 major league starts, Nola has a 3.37 ERA with a 112/26 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings. This year, not only has Nola been extremely stingy with the walks, but he’s been missing bats at an elite level. He’s only 22 years old.

Nola is joined in the rotation by Vincent Velasquez, the pitcher who highlighted the return from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade. The right-hander made headlines in April with a 16-strikeout performance against the Padres and currently stands with a 1.44 ERA with a 39/10 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. Unlike Nola, Velasquez was billed as a future ace or a dominant eighth- or ninth-inning guy.

Then there’s Jerad Eickhoff, who came over in the Cole Hamels trade last year. Though he has a ho-hum 4.15 ERA, Eickhoff is occasionally dominant as evidenced by his 32/5 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings. He has a pretty curve. Look at it. Eickhoff probably won’t be an ace, but he wasn’t considered to be a future mainstay in the rotation when the Hamels trade went through. All he’s done so far is exceed expectations. Nola-Velasquez-Eickhoff makes for an outstanding start to a long-term starting rotation.

The offensive tools aren’t quite where the pitching is yet for the Phillies, as third baseman Maikel Franco has wavered between looking like Mike Schmidt and looking completely lost at the plate. He has only five hits (zero home runs) in his last 37 plate appearances. Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford isn’t there yet, nor is outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Cornelius Randolph. There’s certainly a lot of hope on the horizon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Phillies fan, but wearing rose-colored glasses isn’t a crime of which I’ve been often accused over the years. It has been one headache after another being a Phillies fan between 2012-15. The front office under former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was stubborn and out of touch. Now, under new president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak, the team has a goal and is seeing it through. No, the Phillies won’t win 96 games this year — they probably won’t even win 80 — but they’re certainly further along than a lot of us gave them credit for being.

The Phillies play game three of a four-game set in St. Louis tonight at 8:15 PM EDT. Lefty Adam Morgan will oppose the Cardinals’ Mike Leake.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 6:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Alex Wood) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly), 7:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT

The Marlins are suing a season ticket holder

Atlanta Braves v Miami Marlins
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A couple of years back the Marlins threatened to sue a season ticket holder who didn’t want to pay because the view they had wasn’t what they expected and the Marlins wouldn’t accommodate their request to move. That apparently got worked out without litigation. A new dispute, however, is now a matter for the courts.

The Marlins filed a lawsuit a little over a year ago against a season ticket holder named Mickey Axelbrand. The suit is just heating up now because the Marlins didn’t move to serve the defendant with the suit until recently. The suit is a straightforward breach of contract case in which the Marlins say that Axelbrand paid for two season tickets on a two-year contract, covering 2011-12, and that Axelbrand didn’t pay for the second year. The Marlins claim that he owes the team $24K+ plus other damages. Seems straightforward, no? You don’t pay, you get sued, right?

Well, there are two sides to every story. I spoke with Axelbrand’s lawyer, Daniel Rose of Delray Beach, Florida, this afternoon. He says Axelbrand has been a Marlins fan since the advent of the team and was as season ticket from the team’s first season in 1993 until the dispute arose. He says that the reason Axelbrand withheld payment was because “most of the exclusive amenities were taken away,” from the ticket holder. Specifically, he said that the Marlins ceased operation of the complementary food service for this exclusive seating area in the 6th inning and that exclusive parking areas and an entrance area for people at this expensive season ticket level were made open to the general public. While that sounds like a first world problem to a lot of us, clubs like the Marlins market these super high-priced tickets to people like Axelbrand on the basis of such exclusivity and people like Axelbrand come to expect it. Not unreasonably.

The suit is in its early stages now and discovery is just getting going. Only then will the merits of the competing claims be determined. For now we just have a claim and a defense and the facts will fall where they may. For what it’s worth, Rose believes he can get financial discovery from the Marlins, opening at least part of their books. I’m a bit rusty by now, but for what it’s worth I’m not sure I see how it gets that far. At the very least, however, Jeff Loria will probably have to spend some time and money fending off discovery requests that go beyond the ticket office.

I think the larger takeaway here is that this appears to have been a dispute between a customer and a business that festered for at least three years and one presumes that there were complaints made to the team and a lot of back and forth before everyone lawyered up. One wonders how a baseball team couldn’t resolve this short of litigation if, as Axelbrand and his attorney claim, it was a dispute over amenities and the like. There are probably a million ways for a club to make this right with a fan that don’t require legal fees. I can’t ever recall a team suing a season ticket holder (update: Oh, yeah, that’s the ticket!) I suppose it happens, but if there’s one thing most teams do better than anything it’s accommodate season ticket holders with the sort of customer service niceties which are in the dang wheelhouse of professional sports teams catering to rich folks. Lunch with Giancarlo Stanton anyone?

As a matter of law it’s for the courts to decide. But I can’t help but wonder how this wasn’t decided as a matter of customer service a long time ago.

The Rangers trade Chris Gimenez to the Indians

Texas Rangers' Chris Gimenez, left, and Rougned Odor celebrate Gimenez scoring during the fourteenth inning of Game 2 in baseball's American League Division Series, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015, in Toronto. Texas won 6-4. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Associated Press
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The Cleveland Indians just announced that they’ve acquired catcher Chris Gimenez from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.

Gimenez knows his way to Progressive Field. Indeed, this will be his third stint with the Indians organization. He was their 19th round pick in the 2004 draft, made his big league debut with the club in 2009 and stayed through the 2010 season. He came back in 2014 for eight games, now he’s back again. He has yet to play in 2016 due to a ankle issue. He as doing minor league rehab before being DFA’d by the Rangers yesterday.

Come back to Cleveland, Chris. You always will have a home in Cleveland.