And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Carlos Lee waving.jpgAstros 6, Nationals 4: A walkoff two-run homer for Carlos Lee. The Nationals helped set it up, however, when Cristan Guzman lost
a Lance Berkman liner in the lights and had it bounce in front of him
allowing Michael Bourn to score.

Braves 4, Dodgers 3: The best kept secret in baseball? Kris Medlen. The youngin’ who somehow made it OK for the Braves to lose Jair Jurrjens pitches a strong seven and a third innings to help Atlanta to its ninth straight win. The Dodgers’ pitchers’ streak of scoreless innings ended in the first when Troy Glaus doubled singled in Martin Prado.

Marlins 3, Brewers 2: Josh Johnson took a tough loss against Halladay
last weekend — when the other dude throws a perfect game whaddaya gonna
do? — but he was strong again yesterday, giving up one run on seven
hits in seven innings and striking out eight. Because he toils for the
Marlins it’s possible that he’s more of a secret than Kris Medlen,
although given just how damn good he is there’s no excuse for it.

Tigers 12, Indians 6: Rick Porcello falls a mere seven hits a walk a few
errors and about three innings short of a perfect game. I really hope
Bud Selig does something about this. It’s a shame that we were all
deprived of seeing history.

Mariners 4, Twins 1: King Felix picks up his first win in eight starts. Maybe almost getting his head taken off by a Justin Morneau comebacker woke him up. Casey Kotchman set a major league record for consecutive chances without an
error by a first baseman. He’s now at 2,008, breaking Kevin Youkilis’ old record of 2,002.

White Sox 4, Rangers 3: Carlos Quentin dropped a routine flyball allowing a run to score and got booed. A couple innings later he hit a two-run homer that proved to be the game winner. Oh, and Freddy Garcia has the most wins of any White Sox starter. Which is . . . unexpected.

Angels 5, Royals 4: One out and the bases loaded in the sixth inning. The ball is hit to Allberto Callaspo at third. Callaspo steps on the bag to get the runner from second and then throws home to Jason Kendall. Kendall fails to realize that there is no longer a force at home so he doesn’t try to tag the runner. Rather, he merely steps on the plate and the run scores.  Mind you, Kendall’s veteran savvy and leadership is the primary reason he’s making $6 million between this year and next.

Athletics 9, Red Sox 8: Thirty-two hits between the teams, four of which were Oakland homers. The A’s hadn’t previously hit more than two in a game this season. The A’s lost two players to injury, but the Red Sox had two guys gunned down at home. Advantage: Oakland.

Yankees 6, Orioles 3: Eight straight down the toilet for the Orioles who, depending on which reports you believe this morning, have either fired Dave Trembley or are about to. I do a weekly Friday morning radio spot on WNST in Baltimore. I wonder what we’ll talk about today?

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.