And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Heyward Homers.jpgBraves 4, Phillies 3: Troy Glaus hit a two-out, two-run homer to kick off the comeback in the ninth, and Nate McLouth hit the walkoff job in the tenth, but make no mistake about it: Jason Heyward — whose two-out solo shot tied things up right after Glaus’ jack — is The Man. I keep saying he’s going to come back to Earth because that’s what 20 year-old rookies do, but there’s no question that we’re seeing something special.  The pitch he hit — a changeup down and away — struck him out earlier in the game. But he adjusted this time, he reached down for it and he hit where it was pitched, showing that unlike so many other young sluggers, his power is not merely a function of a violent swing at mistakes in his wheelhouse.

Tough luck no-decision for Kyle Kendrick, who shut out the Braves on four hits over eight innings and sent a huge chunk of the Atlanta fans out the exits before it was over.  One of my NBC bosses is a huge Phillies fan. As soon as McLouth hit his homer he emailed me: “our bullpen sucks.”  My response: I know. That’s why I picked them to finish in second place.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 6: Texas had a 6-2 lead at one point but they blew it. Pfun Pfact: The blown lead came without them once using their best relief pitcher, Neftali Feliz, because games can’t be saved in the sixth, eighth or ninth innings. Lifetime minor leaguer Darnell McDonald, who was called up in the wake of the Ellsbury and Cameron injuries, hit a pinch-hit two-run homer in the eighth inning to tie the game and
won it with an RBI single in the ninth.  Look for him to be deified by the Boston press this morning. And with the way things have been going, who can blame them?  Pfun Pfact II: The Rangers had nine stolen bases, most of them off Wakefield/Martinez. They lost the game, but you can’t say they didn’t have a game plan.

Padres 1, Giants 0: Usually when you give up one hit and strike out ten guys you’re going to win the game. Not so for Jonathan Sanchez, who allowed only a single, followed up by a sacrifice fly that same inning, in seven but takes the toughest luck loss of the season. On the Padres’ side, Mat Latos, Mike Adams and Heath Bell combine to shut the Giants out.

Mets 4, Cubs 0: Mike Pelfrey has been straight money so far this year. That’s two straight starts — and one intervening relief appearance — in which he hasn’t allowed a run, and in his only other appearance this year he only allowed two runs.

Reds 11, Dodgers 9: The Reds blew a six run lead in the 8th but got two back in the bottom of the inning to hold on. Dusty Baker used seven pitchers in this one. He had better conserve his resources, though, what with all those innings they won’t be getting from Edinson Volquez they were counting on. Oh, wait . . .

Astros 7, Marlins 5: The return of Lance Berkman happens on the same night the Astros’ post their highest run total of the season. Coincidence? I think not.  Puma had a couple of RBI on fielder’s choices and added a double, and the Astros took advantage of the Marlins’ Tim Wood to come from behind.  Eighteen game hitting streak for Jorge Cantu, though.

Twins 5, Indians 1: Kevin Slowey struck out nine and allowed a single run over eight innings. Lots of ugly for the Indians, particularly on defense, with errors and wild pitches and stuff.

White Sox 4, Rays 1: Tampa Bay finally loses one, thanks to a dominant performance by John Danks (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 9K). The Rays had three hits in the whole game, all of them by Carl Crawford. Of course they’re used to not hitting against the White Sox. The last time they played, Mark Buehrle threw a perfect game at them.

Brewers 8, Pirates 1: Not long after this game went final, the AP recap of it had the headline “Bush outduels Morton as Brewers win.” They changed it not long afterwards, but it’s nice to see that someone at the Associated Press has a sense of humor (Morton: 1 IP, 6 H, 6 R; Bush: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Some duel!

Blue Jays 4, Royals 3: Vernon Wells went 3 for 4 with a homer and two doubles.  After the game he was told that he had just passed Joe Carter on the Blue Jays’ RBI list. Wells said “It’s cool, but Joe has a number that none of us in this
clubhouse has and that’s two World Series rings.”  Meanwhile Cito Gaston snoozed silently in the corner, no one thinking it right to wake him up.

Rockies 10, Nationals 4: The Rockies played with heavy hearts in light of the death of team president Keli McGregor. The team honored him by hanging a jersey with the No. 88 — McGregor’s college football number — in the dugout. They also honored him by taking the field and unloading on the Nats. You often hear a lot of polite but empty praise for executives who pass on. Based on everything I’ve read about McGregor in the past 24 hours, however, he was truly loved and respected in the Rockies organization and throughout Denver.

Diamondbacks 9, Cardinals 7: Dan Haren gave up seven runs on nine hits, but he also went 4 for 4 with an RBI to hold the Cardinals off. Two homers for Ryan Ludwick in a losing cause, as they say.

Mariners 3, Orioles 1: The M’s have won six of seven and right now their biggest problems are that (a) Milton Bradley’s calf muscle started acting up again and he had to leave the game; and (b) they’ll have a hard time figuring which really good starter will have to get bumped in ten days or so when Cliff Lee comes back, with Jason Vargas gaving up just three hits in seven innings last night. In the grand scheme of things, having Milton Bradley out of the lineup and having too much good pitching aren’t terrible problems to have.

Angels 6, Tigers 5: Howie Kendrick drove in three and Hideki Matsui added two, but the Halos almost blew this one, watching a 6-0 lead almost evaporate — thanks in part to Scot Shields walking three guys in the seventh — before Fernando Rodney shut the Tigers down in the ninth.

Yankees 7, Athletics 3: Javy Vazquez was good enough to get the win, giving up three runs in 5.1 innings. Still, booooooooo, because it’s our God-given right. A-Rod hit a three-run homer. Nick Swisher, who had a hit after he had been slumping badly, said after the game “I
finally found some grass.”  Well, it was 4/20 yesterday, and he was in California . . .

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.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.