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.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.