The Mets and Cardinals played an epic game last night. Kinda.

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Mets Cards scoreboard.jpgEpic may be too strong a word, because make no mistake about it kids: this was 20 innings of some really, really dumb baseball. But you know what? I’m going to
give it a “so-bad-it’s-good” rating. There were so many head scratching “I-can’t-believe-what-I-just-saw” moments that, eventually, it reached the point of the sublime.  Let’s cover the highlights:

  • The winning pitcher was a closer. A starter got the save. The losing pitcher was a backup outfielder. While one guy threw a no-hitter in baseball last night, the Mets pitchers actually threw more combined no-hit innings. It was just one of them nights.
  • The managing here was pretty bad. The worst: in the bottom of the
    19th, trailing 1-0, Tony La Russa put on a pair of Bad Idea jeans and
    called for a steal — or maybe it was a hit-and-run, but either way it was terrible — with Ryan Ludwick on first base and Albert Freakin’
    Pujols at the plate. You know, the Albert Pujols who happens to be the
    best hitter in baseball. Ludwick was out, after which Pujols hit a
    double which would have easily scored Ludwick, and then Yadier Molina
    singled in Pujols. The game could have ended there, but alas it was only
    tied, and on it went to the 20th.
  • Position
    players Joe Mather and Felipe Lopez pitched — the first time two
    position players have pitched in the same game in 20 years — despite
    the fact that Kyle Loshe and Brad Penny probably could have gone an
    inning for St. Louis (Lohse did play left field, though). And heck, even if you’re going to pitch a position player, why not leave Lopez in there? He actually had better stuff than Mather did.
  • Jerry Manuel called for a bunt against Mather in the 19th for reasons I
    still can’t comprehend. And it was with Jose Reyes on first base and a catcher who had played all 19 innings thus far behind the plate and who had to have been totally gassed. You don’t take the bat out of Albert Pujols’ hands, but it seems like you can try to steal with Luis Castillo at the plate with your best baserunner on first and a guy — Mather — with no pickoff move or velocity on the mound.
  • That said, the Mets never really even got to Mather, scoring both of their runs off him on sac flies.
  • K-Rod was the only Mets pitcher in 20 innings to
    give up a run, yet he
    got the win, which means that the next guy who says that wins are the
    mark of a good pitcher is gonna get a talking-to.
  • Mike Pelfrey pitched
    the 20th for the Mets and got the save, which means he now leads the
    team in wins and saves.

But you know what? For as bad as some of this game was, and
for all we’ve said recently about game length, there was a certain
shambling glory to it. A baseball game went 20 innings in seven hours, last night, most of that
time with it being tied 0-0, and multiple astounding things occurred.  I have to say that I loved it.

Best of all: John Maine pitches for the Mets tonight with no bullpen to help him.  Should be fun!

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Cuba won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.