And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Trey Hillman OK.jpgRoyals 6, Indians 4: Look on the bright side, Trey: not many managers can say they went out a winner.

Marlins 2, Mets 1: Johan Santana and Josh Johnson each went seven innings allowing a single run. I’m going to assume that Fernando Nieve’s pitch in the dirt that allowed the winning run to score was a function of overuse making it impossible for him to simply throw a ball sixty feet any longer.

Padres 1, Giants 0: Work fast? Check. Change speeds? Check. Throw strikes? Check.  Mat Latos follows Ray Miller’s rules to the letter, one-hitting the Giants in a cool two hours and five minutes. He singled in the game’s only run too. Oh, and that one hit he gave up? Infield single that bounced off his glove, and they almost got the runner anyway.

Rangers 2, Athletics 1: Two balks were called on the Rangers by home plate umpire Bob Davidson. The second one was ticky tack according to Ron Washington: “That was Balkin’ Bob back there. That’s all I can tell you.”  Maybe its his rehab or something, but I like the new, 100% honest Ron Washington.  If he and Charlie Manuel got a film crew and went on a cross country tour together during which they basically just talk about stuff I’d watch that every week.

Astros 4, Cardinals 1:  Getting swept by Houston isn’t going to go on the postseason highlight reel, that’s for sure. Chris Carpenter and Carlos Lee jawed at each other after Lee popped out in the third inning. It was ostensibly about yelling or emotions or something, but I’ll be damned if I can figure it out.  All I can figure is that there was some unwritten rules violation or another involved. Really, baseball is becoming as complicated as Byzantine tax law or Bolero dancing or something these days.

Tigers 6, Yankees 0: Just about every game yesterday had “getaway day” written all over it, this one included. Sure, most of these teams did actually have flights waiting for them, but they were charters. It’s not like anyone had to play as though they were in such a hurry.

Nationals 14, Rockies 6: The Rockies bullpen is lucky they called this one after eight innings, because there is a limit to how much embarrassment anyone can take. Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers and drove in six.  That was nice and all, but they probably shouldn’t have been playing this one in the first place. The rain was just too hard, the basepaths became filled with puddles and someone could have gotten hurt.

Orioles 6, Mariners 5: King Felix handed Brandon League a 5-1 lead in the eighth inning, but
League frittered it away via a leadoff homer to Corey Patterson — Corey
Patterson?! — yes, Corey Patterson, a bunch of base runners and then a
grand slam to Luke Scott. Mike Sweeney homered, and then he threatened all of his teammates into giving him high fives in the dugout.

Oh, and in case you’re curious, I’ve lifted the ban on using the Mariners’ name because, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Larry LaRue was allowed to stand in the reporters’ scrum in the locker room after this game. Maybe Mike Sweeney is still shunning him — no quotes from him about his homer in LaRue’s story — but apparently some players have decided to get on with their lives. No reason for me not to do the same.

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)
Associated Press
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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.