And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Vernon Wells homer.jpgBlue Jays 3, Rangers 1: On the scale of unexpected and dramatic comebacks, Vernon Wells starting the season with four homers in three games falls somewhere south of Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl after a decade in retirement in The Dark Knight Returns, but somewhere north of Steely Dan releasing “Two Against Nature” in 2000. On a related note, Ricky [Romero] had the Rangers’ number all night, allowing only one run in seven innings. Cito Gaston probably didn’t have to call nobody else, but he used Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor anyway.

Athletics 6, Mariners 2: Hot start for Oakland, as they take three of four from M’s.  Six innings of shutout ball for Brett Anderson, four RBI for Daric Barton and, as Matthew pointed out last night, some interesting defensive choices for the Mariners in the eighth inning all contributed to the win. Only thing I don’t get about that play is that since the catcher used his mask to scoop up the ball, why were Travis Buck and Cliff Pennington only awarded one base each? Rule 7.05(b) clearly states that baserunners in such instances are to be awarded three bases. Anyone have any ideas?

Reds 2, Cardinals 1: Pretty much covered this one as it ended yesterday afternoon. But since then I’ve been provided a verbatim transcript of the meeting which took place just prior to Jonny Gomes’ walkoff home run.

Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue calls for an offspeed pitch. Jason Motte shakes him off:

LaRue: Why you shaking me off?
Motte: I wanta throw the heater to announce my presence with authority.
LaRue: “To announce your f—— presence with authority”?  This guy’s a first ball fastball hitter.  He’s looking for heat.
Motte:  But he ain’t seen my heat.
LaRue: [sighs, then smirks] Awright, meat, give him your heat.

Fin

Nationals 6, Phillies 5:  A Willie Harris home run off Kyle Kendrick put the Nats up 5-2 in the fourth inning, but Philly came back to tie it up with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. But then new arrival Nelson Figueroa came in and gave up a walk and then a bloop RBI double that proved to be the difference in the Nats’ victory.  “Quail ball,” Charlie Manuel antiquatedly called it, doing absolutely nothing to disprove my hypothesis that Manuel was sent to our time from 1946 in some time-travel experiment connected to Operation Paper Clip or something. I love Charlie, but you gotta admit, the guy’s a living Burma Shave add.

Cubs 2, Braves 0: Randy Wells and four relievers shut the Braves out, allowing three hits to Martin Prado and two to Troy Glaus, but utterly flummoxing everyone else. At least until the ninth when Eric Hinske almost, but not quite, hit a walkoff three run homer. But you know they say about where close counts. Tommy Hanson wasn’t terrible for Atlanta, but the two hits he gave up in the early going were both the kind that went over the fence. Jason Heyward went 0 for 4 and looked like some young kid or something striking out on three pitches from Carlos Marmol in the ninth. Such is the way of the world when you’re 20.  Chipper Jones strained his oblique and will miss 2-3 days. Such is the way of the world when you’re Chipper Jones.

Dodgers 10, Pirates 2: In that stupid T.J. Simers article that suckered me yesterday, Simers wrote that Ronnie Belliard was “hired by the Dodgers to laugh at Manny’s jokes, allow Manny to ignore
his other teammates and talk trash about reporters in Spanish so the
reporters won’t know what he’s saying.”  He is apparently also there to go 3-5 with a double, triple, homer and four RBI when he’s spelling Casey Blake at third. Every Dodgers position player — five of whom were second stringers — got a hit. The first five guys in the lineup each had multiple hits.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: Brian Matusz’s targeting systems were malfunctioning (five walks) but he muddled through on manual and got the win.  Rays’ starter Jeff Niemann left the game in the second when a comebacker caught his shoulder. Matt Wieters is hitting .500 through his first three games. 

Tigers 7, Royals 3: Dontrelle Willis is back (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4K). Spectacular? No. But we’ll all settle for competent. Fellow former Marlin Miquel Cabrera was more than competent, going 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. Alberto Callaspo stranded nine runners all by himself in this one, hitting into two double plays and striking out with two men on in his first three at bats and then grounding out with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Marlins 3, Mets 1: Nice outing for Jonathon Neise (6 IP, 8H, 3 ER) but Nate Robertson was better (5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).

Twins 10, Angels 1: A big question for the Twins this season was how to work Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young through two positions and still give everyone at bats. No worries: just beat the tar out of someone and they all get a chance: Kubel got the start in left and had an RBI single, Thome DH’d and went 2-4 with a three-run homer and Young subbed in for Kubel late and hit a three-run homer of his own. Problem solved!  As for the Angels, their two main offseaon additions — Joel Piniero and Fernando Rodney — combined to give up seven runs in seven innings. So there’s that.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: Good win for the Indians and all, and it’s nice that they’re 2-1, but as I heard someone say yesterday, when you have to say “the season’s only three games old, but . . .” it’s probably the kind of thing that you shouldn’t be saying anyway due to the meaninglessness of it all.

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.