And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Padres brown.jpgCardinals 8, Padres 3: The Padres lost, but they looked damn good
losing in those mustard and brown throwbacks.  Pujols hit a homer. It’s hard to say that a guy with a .900+
OPS is struggling, but he is, so the dinger had to feel good. Brendan Ryan had to be feeling good too, after a 4 for 4 day with a homer, an RBI and a stolen base.

Mets 3, Phillies 0: The Phillies probably need to start calling the Mets “daddy” here pretty soon, as New York shuts out the Phillies for the third straight game.  It’s the fourth time in five games the Phillies have failed to score a run. Mike Pelfrey, this time.  Only silver lining: the last time this happened to the Phillies was 1983, a year in which they won the pennant.

Reds 8, Pirates 2: As God is my witness, Charlie Morton has started and lost four or five games in the past week.  Really, every time I look at a Pirates box score Morton is the starter and he’s given up five or six runs in two or three innings. Without looking, I’m going to guess that he’s 0-18 right now with a 11.25 ERA and has infected three dozen people with swine flu.  How close am I? I’m close, aren’t I? Yeah, I knew it.

Giants 5, Nationals 4: Freddy Sanchez got spiked in the face. In. The. Face. But he stayed in the game and a hit two-run single that put the Giants in front to stay.  “Those are the situations that you want to be in as a player,” Sanchez
said after the game. “There’s nothin’ better than gettin’ your face aerated to prepare you for the big hit,” he did not add.

Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 2: Troy Tulowitzki is on a tear. A two-run homer last night makes it five dingers in the last week. He’s on an 11-game hitting streak and has raised his OPS 100 points in May. And what the heck is up with Dan Haren? Eight runs on ten hits in six and a third, raising his ERA to 5.35 on the year.

Cubs 1, Dodgers 0: Ted Lilly shuts out the Cubbies over seven. Sure, he cheated a little bit by not standing on the rubber, but when was the last time you saw a batter who didn’t have a foot out the back of the batter’s box?

Brewers 4, Astros 3I hit this up yesterday, though when I first wrote it, I said it was Chris Gomez with the single rather than Carlos Gomez.  I guess Chris Gomez was a such a fungible journeyman for so damn long that I just figured, yeah, he could be playing for the Brewers right now.  I mean, he and Terry Mulholland are probably roommates, right?

Rays 5, White Sox 1: There hasn’t been a team this happy to change its Sox in a long time.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Joe West was the home plate umpire. The game took 3:03.  Dice-K walked eight guys in four and two-thirds. I’m curious to see if this was a function of the return of the deliberate, nibbling Dice-K we’ve come to know and love, or if West was squeezing the Sox because he’s a big flaming jackass.

Athletics 7, Orioles 5: Brad Bergesen was cruising until the eighth, gave up a couple of singles, left the game with a 5-2 lead and — stop me if you’ve heard this one before, Orioles fans — then watched as the bullpen frittered it away.

Twins 8, Yankees 2: Jason Kubel homers twice and racks up five RBI. Javy Vazquez’s ERA goes up to 6.86. The Yankees now embark on series against Cleveland, Baltimore and Houston.

Braves 8, Marlins 3: A rain delay knocks Tim Hudson out before he can get the win. More importantly for the Braves, the rain knocked Ricky Nolasco out and allowed them to get to the Marlins bullpen.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Getty Images
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.