And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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kids at Huntington Park small.JPGRays 11, Royals 1: The Rays are good the Royals are bad and you all know
that, so there’s no sense in dwelling on it here. Let’s take things in a
different direction: My wife and I took the kids to the Columbus
Clippers-Charlotte Knights game last night, which the Clippers won 9-7. 
My daughter is six, and she thought it was quite hilarious and a little
bit cute that there was a
player with the last name of “Flowers”
and a
player with the first name of “Shelley”
playing in the game. My son,
who is 4, decided that he wanted to boo the Charlotte Knights because
“they’re not from around here.” Later he decided to boo a couple that
came in and sat down three innings into the game “for bein’ late to the ballgame.”  I was a bit uneasy with the former booing, but
strongly approved of the latter.

Tigers 3, Twins 0:  D-Train beats the Twins’ Morneau and Mauer-free lineup, shutting them out over six innings. Given that he couldn’t even get the ball over the plate this time last year I got nothin’ but kudos for the guy, and would even if it was an American Legion lineup from Minnetonka.

White Sox 7, Rangers 5: Paul Konerko homered twice, the second of which put the Sox’ lead out of reach. That brings him up to 10 which leads the league. Great Moments in Energy Conservation: Michael Young checked his swing in the fifth, and the ball traveled so short a distance that A.J. Pierzynski was able to pick it up and tag Young before he had even left the batter’s box.

Yankees 4, Orioles 0: Robbie Cano had two homers and Marcus Thames had three hits, but after all these years we’re used to those two legends carrying this storied franchise on their broad shoulders.

Blue Jays 6, Athletics 3: John Buck was a 50% better hitter than Paul Konerko and Robbie Cano last night, blasting three bombs. The Athletics have lost seven of 10, shifting them back towards the “not for real” side of the ledger. The Jays can tell them all about it. And bad news for the Athletics as Justin Duchscherer had to leave the game with an injured hip, which appears to be serious.

Reds 4, Astros 2: Four in a row for the Redlegs. Pfun Pfact, courtesy of Red Reporter: despite the fact that Bronson Arroyo and Roy Oswalt have pitched in the same division for the past 4 seasons, last night was the first time they have faced each other in nine years, back when Arroyo was with the Pirates. How they’ve avoided each other for so long is just one of them things, I guess.

Diamondbacks 13, Cubs 5: Kelly Johnson was 4 for 5 with a homer — his NL-leading 9th — and three RBI. Adam LaRoche hit two homers and drove in five.  We’re basically one Mark DeRosa hitting streak and a Jason Marquis no-hitter away from me becoming more interested in rooting for the Braves alumni club more than I root for the Braves themselves.

Cardinals 10, Braves 4: A six RBI day for David Freese as the Cardinals win easily. Again. It’s bad enough that the Braves have dropped nine straight, but now they’re racking up injuries to go along with their futility. Jair Jurrjens left the game with a sore hamstring. Yunel left with a strained left adductor. Bobby Cox has a blown gasket: “It was a lousy trip. It’s been a horrible experience to endure,” Cox
said of the Bravos 0-7 road trip.

Padres 9, Brewers 0: Death by a thousand cuts: the Padres had seven straight singles in the fifth inning.  In fact, all 13 of the Padres hits in the game were singles, a good number of them which were chancey kind of things like the ball hitting off someone’s shoe and stuff.

Pirates 2, Dodgers 0: The Pirates score both of their runs when Matt
Kemp O-lays what should have been a single off the bat of Ryan Doumit
into a two-run “triple.” It’s a shame that Kemp would go from where he
was a year ago to
revert back to when the ball goes up in the air and you’re not sure
where it’s going, or if it’s going to get caught.

Gerrit Cole named Pirates’ Opening Day starter

BRADENTON, FL - FEBRUARY 19: Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates poses for a photograph during MLB spring training photo day on February 19, 2017 at Pirate City in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.

The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.

Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.

Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery could share Cubs’ rotation spot in 2017

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Mike Montgomery #38 of the Chicago Cubs throws a pitch during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon hasn’t selected a fifth starter for his 2017 rotation yet, but told reporters that he could envision left-handers Brett Anderson and Mike Montgomery sharing the spot throughout the year. Neither pitcher was stretched out to the full 200-inning threshold last year, Maddon added, and suggested that the two could alternate innings out of the rotation and bullpen as needed (via MLB.com’s Carrie Muskat).

Anderson, 29, was acquired by the Cubs in January on a $3.5 million deal. He’s coming off a rough 2016, during which he underwent back surgery and missed all but 11 1/3 innings of his last season with the Dodgers. His last full, healthy year in the majors yielded a 3.69 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 5.8 SO/9 over 180 1/3 innings with Los Angeles in 2015.

Montgomery, meanwhile, is vying for a rotation spot after pitching almost exclusively from the bullpen during the second half of the Cubs’ 2016 run. The 27-year-old lefty put up a 2.82 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings for Chicago last year, returning in the postseason to post a 3.14 ERA during the Cubs’ championship finish.

Maddon also mentioned the possibility of throwing a sixth starter into the mix, which would help prevent his other starters from getting overworked too early in the year. Either way, Anderson and Montgomery are expected to get a lot of looks early in spring training as rotation spots are finalized in the weeks leading up to Opening Day.