And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Hubbard rubbing head.jpgPadres 17, Braves 2:  Er, um, yeah. I’m going to pretend that this was just an 8-2 game or something like it, because really, once Bobby Cox decided to let Jo-Jo Reyes mop up the game was already lost and the actual stats mere details. But enough about the Braves deplorable performance. Let’s talk about Kyle Blanks, who is young and exciting and has a future and everything. He went 3 for 5 with a double a homer and five RBIs. And let’s talk about the Padres overall offense which scored the most runs of any team in the history of Petco, which count even if it was Jo-Joe spreading the accelerant on the tinder. And it’s not like this was just an offensive beating by the Padres. Starter Kevin Correia and relievers Edward Mujica and Adam Russell kept the Braves to four hits, which makes this a well-rounded butt-whuppin’.

Twins 5, Red Sox 2: Aaron has all the coverage you need of this one, including first impressions of how the new park plays. I watched it on TV from the NBC offices which, appropriately enough, have HD TVs with the Extra Innings package set up at every work station in the joint. If the law firm had that I never would have left.

Rays 5, Orioles 1: Matt Garza hurled eight innings of one-run ball to a 1-6 Orioles team in front of 9,129 fans which was a record low for Baltimore since they moved into Camden Yards. Shocking to me this early in the season given that this team is supposed to have hope and promise and all of that. Carl Crawford was 4 for 4 with a homer.

Cardinals 5, Astros 0:  In the power rankings yesterday I asked whether the Astros were really as bad as their record. Answer: yeah, seems like it, as they were shut out for the third time in seven games. Pujols hit a three-run bomb and an RBI single. Ryan Ludwick went 4 for 4. Adam Wainwright blanked the Astros for eight innings. Mark McGwire got a standing O from a record crowd for the Cardinals in new Busch. All-in-all it was a special Opening Day. At least for the home team.

Athletics 4, Mariners 0: Not such a nice home opener for the Mariners, who were blanked on two hits and are now off to their worst start in six years. Randy Johnson threw out the first pitch for the M’s. He was later asked to DH but declined because he didn’t want to be associated with such offensive ineptitude.

Phillies 7, Nationals 4: Philly lost Jimmy Rollins with a calf injury and lost Jayson Werth with a sore hip, but they triumphed all the same because apparently nothing can keep these guys down. Jason Marquis allowed seven runs and six hits in 4.1 innings and could have followed up this bummer of a game with a steak as big as a toilet seat at the Palm. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg is on a bus somewhere with a stop for lunch at an Eat-N-Park in his immediate future.  These wrongs will be righted sometime this summer.

White Sox 8, Blue Jays 7: Andruw Jones had two homers and an RBI single. Think maybe he’ll get more starts in left? He certainly helped bail Jake Peavy out (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB). But the real hero was Mark Teahen who tied it up with a homer in the 9th and won it with a triple in the 11th.

Cubs 9, Brewers 5: A five spot in the third courtesy of homers from Jeff Baker and Xavier Nady and a three spot in the fourth courtesy of a Derrick Lee single and an Aramis Ramirez homer put this one out of reach for the Cubs’ home opener. Thirteen hits for a team who, coming into this game, was collectively below the Mendoza Line. Doug Davis was supposed to have been brought in to stabilize the rotation. Instead his first two starts have been Suppanriffic.

Rangers 4, Indians 2: Nelson Cruz hit his 5th homer of the year to put the Rangers up 4-2 in the 10th. Cruz tripled as well. Neftali Feliz got the save, throwing three 100+ m.p.h. pitches. I can’t help but think that Nolan Ryan, of all people, would appreciate that a man who throws that kind of gas should be starting games. From the game story: “Hall of Famer Bob Feller, 91, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to
former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar, seems like he’s 91, now Cleveland’s first base coach.”  At least I think I got that quote right.

Royals 10, Tigers 5: I was watching this one at the office before the Twins game came on. The guy working at the desk across from me owns Max Scherzer in a fantasy league and wasn’t pleased about the results. In non-sports-related offices you have to get frustrated at your fantasy team clandestinely and then suck it up and get on with life. When you work for a company that runs, like, the biggest fantasy site on the web and which puts TVs all over the place for the express purpose of watching ballgames during the day, your frustration can flow more freely. In other news, yesterday Rob Neyer said “I don’t want to see the Royals and the Tigers playing four-hour games
someday.” This one was 3:26.

Reds 6, Marlins 5: The Scott Rolen show: he homered twice and drove in the winning run in the 10th inning. Jorge Cantu hit a two-run double, extending  his carry-this-freakin’-team streak to “all season.”  Official gate was 10,000+. There were actually about 3,000 souls in the park. 2,700 of those were octogenarians who thought it was still the 1960s and mistook this for an Orioles spring training game. When informed that the Orioles haven’t trained in Miami for over 20 years they said “No, I can’t have hot dogs. They give me gas.”

Giants 9, Pirates 3: Like I’ve always said, with a one-two punch like Bengie Molina (4 for 4, 2B, HR, 4 RBI) and Barry Zito (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER), there’s really no stopping this Giants team.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.