And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Andre Ethier Slam.jpgDodgers 7, Brewers 3:  Walkoff slam for Andre Ethier! Jonathan Broxton had blown a two-run lead in the top of the ninth, but Either untied it with authority to end it. It was Ethier’s second game-ending hit of the season and 11th since the
start of 2008. Video here.

Rangers 13, Royals 12: Texas jumped out to an eight run lead, blew it, and then hit back-to-back homers off Joakim Soria to come from behind. Note to the Rangers: there are no adjustments given for degree-of-difficulty. Just win the friggin’ ballgame the easy way next time, OK? In other news, make sure you have emergency provisions, your bible, your gun and head into your panic room, because the end is nigh: Yuniesky Betancourt walked twice.

Nationals 3, Braves 2: Scott Olson takes a no-hitter into the eighth, only to have it broken up by singles from David Ross and Nate McLouth. Then, 17 personnel changes of questionable wisdom later, Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run, pinch hit single to Jason Heyward — Jason Heyward? — yes, Jason Heyward.  All seemed lost for the Nats as the Braves loaded up the bases with one out in the ninth but this time Ross grounded into a double play. The Nats scored the winning run on a walk, a double, a walk and a single.  On some level it’s just easier to lose 5-1.

Phillies 7, Cardinals 2: I talked about Halladay’s day here, so I’ll leave that alone.  Here’s something to chew on: the Cardinals have looked absolutely lost in series against the Phillies and the Giants who — nothin’ personal San Diego Padres — look like a couple of teams St. Louis might face in the playoffs.

Pirates 11, Cubs 1:  The Cubs had a bit of momentum and the Pirates dead ahead, so you figured things would keep looking up. Then Pittsburgh sweeps ’em. And what’s this? The Pirates actually win a blowout?  Must be the result of the Pirates’ “two-hour pregame meeting with a communications coach designed to build
their social skills and boost their image” reported in the game story. Word on the street is that they learned during the meeting that losing is a disease. As contagious as polio.

Giants 6, Marlins 3: Matt Cain had a no-hitter through six and pitched into the eighth. After him it took four relievers to get the final six outs, but really this one wasn’t close. San Francisco is in first place all by its lonesome now.

Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3: There goes Houston’s 1-game winning streak. Kelly Johnson hit his 10th home run which is further proof that the universe is random and lawless and that anything can happen.

Orioles 2, Twins 0: I’d like to think that the Orioles pitchers are getting a secret kick out of Andy MacPhail publicly criticize all the hitters, what with all of that “the hitting should be fine but the pitching will be a question mark” jazz from the spring.

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 0: The Jays’ fifth straight victory. If you weight the wins to account for the fact that three of them came against Cleveland, however, it comes out to 2.2 victories. Dana Eveland — who I continue to maintain is really the name of a second-tier actress from the old studio system days — three seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits.

Red Sox 11, Angels 6: Dear God, the Angels are playing some craptacular baseball lately. Scott Kazmir was terrible and his relief was not much better. Daisuke Matsuzaka walked three and allowed four runs in the
first inning, but after that he settled down. Victor Martinez homered and drove in four.  That’s, like, a gabillion straight losses for the Angels.

Rays 8, Mariners 0: I don’t outsource my recaps very often, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Here’s Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner on last night’s game (“Hyphen” is M’s starter Ryan Rowland-Smith]: “You don’t need a recap of that. Hyphen sucked, the offense sucked, the
defense sucked, Snell sucked, and the weather sucked. So, why should
the recap be any different? They get the recap they deserve. When they
play like a major league team, they’ll get written up like one. Until
then, they get this.”  But seriously, Dave: don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

The Blue Jays and Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing Friday

Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesse Chavez works against the Texas Rangers during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, Sept. 11, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports that the Blue Jays and right-hander Jesse Chavez had an arbitration hearing on Friday, with a decision expected today.

Chavez, who was acquired from the Athletics this offseason, requested $4 million and was offered $3.6 million by the Blue Jays when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. Toronto is known as a “file-and-trial” team, so they bring these cases to a hearing unless a multi-year deal can be reached. The three-person panel of arbitrators will choose one salary or the other.

Chavez, 32, posted a 4.18 ERA and 136/48 K/BB ratio in 157 innings across 26 starts and four relief appearances last season. He’s expected to compete for the fifth spot in Toronto’s rotation this spring.

Diamondbacks mulling over moving Yasmany Tomas to left field

Arizona Diamondbacks' Yasmany Tomas (24) blows a gum bubble during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, May 22, 2015, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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After trading Ender Inciarte to the Braves as part of the Shelby Miller deal, Yasmany Tomas will go into 2016 as a regular in the Diamondbacks’ lineup. Signed to a six-year, $68.5 million contract in December of 2014, Tomas batted .273 with nine home runs and a .707 OPS over 426 plate appearances during his first season in the majors last year while struggling defensively between third base and right field. Third base is out as a possibility at this point, but the Diamondbacks are mulling over another defensive change for him.

According to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, Diamondbacks manager Chip Hale said Friday that the club has discussed moving Tomas to left field and David Peralta to right.

“We’re definitely talking about it,” Hale said. “(Outfield coach) Dave McKay and I, (General Manager Dave Stewart) and (Chief Baseball Officer) Tony (La Russa), we think it might be best to switch them around.”

When the third base experiment flopped, the Diamondbacks put Tomas in right because they felt he would be the most comfortable there. The metrics weren’t kind to him. He’ll now have a full spring training to work on things if the club decides to make a change. Peralta isn’t the defender that Inciarte was, but he’s better than Tomas, so it’s understandable why the Diamondbacks would change their alignment.

Tomas is likely to be a liability no matter where he plays, but the Diamondbacks won’t mind as much if his bat begins to meet expectations. For a team with designs on the postseason, he’s a big key for this lineup.

Cubs, Jake Arrieta avoid arbitration at $10.7 million

Jake Arrieta
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
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The Associated Press is reporting that the Cubs and starter Jake Arrieta have avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $10.7 million salary for the 2016 season. That marks the highest salary on a one-year deal for a pitcher with four years of service, the AP notes. Arrieta and the Cubs were set to go before an independent arbitrator but now can simply focus on the season ahead.

Arrieta, 29, is in his second of three years of arbitration eligibility. He had filed for $13 million while the Cubs countered at $7.5 million. The $5.5 million gap was the largest among players who did not come to terms with their respective teams by the January deadline. The $10.7 million salary is $450,000 above the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award for his performance this past season, narrowly edging out Zack Greinke, then with the Dodgers. Arrieta led the majors with 22 wins, four complete games, and three shutouts. With that, he compiled a 1.77 ERA and a 236/48 K/BB ratio across 229 innings.

Once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, Arrieta struggled in the majors but found immediate success with the Cubs in 2013 after the O’s traded him along with Pedro Strop in exchange for Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman.

Giants sign Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal

Los Angeles Angels third baseman Conor Gillaspie is unable to hold on to the ball after catching a grounder hit by Kansas City Royals' Lorenzo Cain in the fourth inning of a baseball game at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
AP Photo/Colin E. Braley
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Per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy, the Giants have signed infielder Conor Gillaspie to a minor league deal. Gillaspie was selected by the Giants in the supplemental round of the 2008 draft, then was traded to the White Sox in February 2013.

Gillaspie, 28, hit a meager .228/.269/.359 with four home runs and 24 RBI in 253 plate appearances between the White Sox and Angels during the 2015 season. Almost all of his playing time has come at third base but he can also play first base if needed.

The Giants, thin on depth, will allow Gillaspie to audition in spring training for a spot on the 25-man roster.