And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Halladay pitching.jpgPhillies 2, Braves 0: Roy Halladay can pitch a little. The Braves threatened exactly once, in the seventh inning when they loaded the bases on hits from Chipper Jones and Brian McCann and a walk from Jason Heyward. This was the baseball equivalent of the cat letting the mouse run a few feet just so it could see the mouse run. Halladay apparently grew bored with this little exercise, however, got the double play — courtesy of some slick defense from Chase Utley — and the threat was over.  Otherwise? Pure domination (CG, SHO 7K).  For me it was like the Jiminez no-hitter the other night. Sucks that it was my team, but something to behold all the same.

Yankees 3, Athletics 1: Phil Hughes takes a no-hitter into the eighth inning but loses it on a combacker from Eric Chavez that bounched off Hughes’ left flank and eluded him long enough to allow Chavez to reach first. Nice effort all the same. The run with which he was charged was an inherited runner which Joba Chamberlain allowed to score. I’m guessing right now is probably not the best time for me to begin my “Girardi got it wrong when he picked Phil over Joba” campaign, huh?

Red Sox 8, Rangers 7: Second walkoff win in a row for the Sox, this time in the twelfth inning as Ron Washington has Dustin Nippert intentionally walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Kevin Youkilis, who then hits the game-winning double.  Walking someone to get to Youk with runners in scoring position in a tie game? Are we sure Washington is passing all those drug tests he’s supposed to be taking?

Padres 5, Giants 2: The Padres will not be stopped, as they win their sixth in a row. Jon Garland gave up one run in seven innings against a Giants’ offense that suddenly looks a lot like 2009’s version. Oh, and here’s something you don’t see every day: 18 minute rain delay in San Diego. I called my brother who lives out there to ask him what the heck was happening. He said he couldn’t talk because he was too busy gathering survival supplies and making sure his life insurance was paid up. They just don’t do rain in San Diego.

Royals 4, Blue Jays 3: There’s nothin’ wrong with Zack Greinke, it would seem, as he threw seven strong innings. His bullpen betrayed him once again, however, so he was gypped out of his first win of the year. Alex Gordon made up with an ugly day both offensively and defensively by hitting the game-winning homer in the 10th. Jose Guillen continues his torrid start, going 2-4 with a homer.

Nationals 6, Rockies 4: A victory, but Ryan Zimmerman left the game after appearing to hurt his hamstring, so we’ll put it in the “Pyrrhic” column. On the bright side, Jason Marquis was sent to the DL after the game, so that bad man can’t hurt you any more, Nats fans.

Brewers 8, Pirates 0: I’ll hand it to the Pirates: when they lose, they don’t mess around. They go out there and lose with gusto. So far this year they’ve lost games by scores of 10-2, 9-1, 15-6, 9-3, 6-0, 8-1, and 8-0. It’s almost a courtesy when you think about it. It’s as if they’re telling the good people of western Pennsylvania “Hey, it’s cool. You can turn the game off now and go make sandwiches with fries in them or whatever it is you do all day. There’s no chance we’ll make it close.”

Astros 5, Marlins 4: How it is you take two of three from Philly and then look bad against Houston two nights in a row is a mystery to me. It’s like the Marlins are an NBA team or something. Lance Berkman was caught stealing third at one point in this game. What possible reason would Lance Berkman have for stealing third base?

Twins 6, Indians 0: An eerie start for the Erie warriors as they drop a heartbreaker to the Twins, six to nothing.  Francisco Liriano allows zero runs for the second straight time. Michael Cuddyer had a two-run triple and a homer. David Huff walked six guys. He tried for the corner and missed a lot. Not sure how those guys could lay off pitches that close.

Cubs 9, Mets 3: Alfonso Soriano (3-4, 3B, HR, 3 RBI) shows everyone that he belongs in the lineup and Carlos Silva (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER)  shows everyone that he belongs in the rotation. After the game, however, Lou Piniella reassigned Silva to pitch batting practice and reassigned Soriano to a job as a Dippin’ Dots vendor. Lou said they were each cool with it. After this game Ike Davis’ line stands at .273/.273/.273, which is kind of cool unless you’re interested in Ike Davis producing and stuff.

Dodgers 14, Reds 6: The Aaron Harang contract drive continues (5.2 IP, 10 H, 6 ER).

Rays 12, White Sox 0: Mark Buehrle fell just nine hits, six runs and a walk short of his second straight perfect game against the Rays.

Cardinals 9, Diamondbacks 4: Tied into the ninth and then the absolute worst bullpen in the game allows St. Louis to score five. This after Arizona had come back from being down 3-0 in the 1st. Two homers for Colby Rasmus, the second of which provided the winning margin. A three-run job from Skip Shumaker in the final frame was nice insurance.  This one was sprinkled with extra fun too, as the benches cleared when Chris Carpenter, running the bases after getting hit by an Edwin Jackson pitch, tried to take out Kelly Johnson on a double play.  The dude would be pitching the next half inning so you’d think he’d just wait to hit someone himself, but I guess Carpenter is a team-first guy and would rather not get ejected in his efforts to maim the opposition.

Mariners 4, Orioles 1:  I have Monday morning in the when-is-Dave-Trembley-getting-fired pool. It’s an off day right after a road trip. Saves the team an extra plane ticket getting Trembley back home and everything. Just really good timing, ya know?

Tigers 4, Angels 3: The first batter Brian Fuentes faces after coming back from the DL — Miguel Cabrera — homers off him in the 9th inning, tying up the game. A couple batters later Ramon Santiago singles in Gerald Laird for what would be the game winner.  Mike Scioscia should be commended for his loyalty to the Fue
ntes, but it ain’t like the
team had any trouble closing games out while he was out.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.