And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Torrealba dropping popup.jpgDodgers 1, Padres 0: The Dodgers sweep the West-leading Padres despite being two-hit. Maybe
I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’m starting to get the feeling that
you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the
right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that
place where the Padres’ wave finally broke and rolled back.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: “Their hitters were on, their pitcher was on. They just beat us,” Tony La Russa said after the game, declining to offer some lame, hair-splitting excuse or citation to some obscure rule or custom following a loss for the first time since anyone can recall. The Reds win for the eighth time in ten games and are now in first place
in the NL Central. It’s the first time a team other than the Cardinals
has held that slot since last July.

Giants 4, Astros 3: According to the game story, several Astros’ players
walked the two miles from their team hotel to AT&T Park when taxis
refused to drive around the hubub caused by the annual Bay to Breakers foot
race
. He’ll deny it until the cows come home, but I have it on
pretty good authority that Brett Myers joined in with the runners for
three-quarters of a mile wearing buttless leather pants, as is the
custom for many of the race’s participants.

Twins 6, Yankees 3: You don’t see the Yankees suffer a bullpen implosion like this very often, as Joba loaded the bases and Rivera walked one in and then allowed a grand slam to Jason Kubel. Thank God Javier Vazquez is being sent down to the pen to help those amateurs out.

Tigers 5, Red Sox 1: Neither John Lackey nor the Boston bats were very sharp yesterday, with the former allowing nine hits and walking four, and the latter mustering only seven hits of their own. A two-run homer for Ramon Santiago may be even more rare than that Yankees bullpen implosion.

Angels 4, Athletics 0: Remember over the winter when everyone was not signing Joel Piniero because, um, well, I can’t really remember why, but I’m sure they were very good reasons (CG, SHO, 1 BB, 5K).

Rockies 2, Nationals 1: Jeff Francis didn’t get the win but he was the man of the day, allowing one run on seven hits over seven. Most of the seven hits weren’t all that hard, either. If Colorado is going to shake off the cobwebs and jump into this race, Francis’ return to form will be necessary.

Royals 5, White Sox 3: Brian Bannister after his win: “It was a good enough outing, not a great outing. I
was savvy. I always try to be savvy.”  I can’t decide if that quote is awesome or lame.

Cubs 4, Pirates 3: The Pirates bullpen has actually done a pretty spiffy job of protecting the late leads they have had, but they didn’t do it yesterday, walking dudes and throwing pitches in the dirt and stuff. Xavier Nady had the game winning hit.

Rays 2, Mariners 1: Cliff Lee took a 1-0 lead into the seventh having allowed only two hits, but then doubles by B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez tied it and an eighth inning Carl Crawford triple + sac fly gave the Rays the win. Tough luck loss for Lee, who struck out ten.

Braves 13, Diamondbacks 1: Martin Prado went crazy, going 4 for 6 with two homers, as the Braves offense continues to wake up from its season-long slumber. Nice day for Tim Hudson who, while he’s been doing OK, hadn’t been striking out too many fellas. I’ll take six Ks in eight innings against one walk, though.

Indians 5, Orioles 1: Jake Westbrook has won two in a row, allowing only two runs in fifteen innings. Sure, those were against the Royals and Orioles, but you figure a couple of the GMs to whom the Indians will be offering Westbrook this summer will fail to realize that.

Marlins 10, Mets 8: A day on which good fundamental baseball laid down and died for the Mets results in their fifth straight loss and seventh of eight. Chris Coghlan pinch hit in the seventh inning and fouled off six two-strike pitches before hitting a three-run jack which is always fun. Jonathan Niese hurt his hamstring, which is scary considering he needed surgery on it last year. 

Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2: Brandon Morrow on the mechanical flaw he fixed prior to this game: “When I’m really bad mechanically, like I was in Boston, I have a
tendency to break down on my back side and become really rotational and
spin open.”  I hate it when that happens.

Phillies 4, Brewers 2: Six straight losses at home for the Brew Crew. On the bright side, this is the only one of those six losses that was even remotely close.

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.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.