And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Carlos Lee swing.jpgAstros 6, Rockies 2: Wow. Walkoff (why did I think the Astros were at home?) game-winning grand slam by Carlos Lee in the tenth inning. Someone isn’t happy about being called “untradeable” for the past two months.  Dude has been on fire in June.

Indians 11, Red Sox 0: Yesterday I observed that Tuesday night was a pretty epic night for pitchers (turns out it was only mildly epic).  Last night was a pretty big blowout night.  This one led the way, with Tribe unloading on Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson for eight runs in the eighth. Not that they needed all those runs with Justin Masterson shutting down the Boston bats with a two-hit shutout.

Rays 10, Blue Jays 1: I’m suddenly hearing nothing from that dude who keeps showing up in my Power Rankings threads beefing about me not showing any respect to the Blue Jays.  I know he’s out there — he has accurately monitored my torrid east coast bias for weeks now — but I have yet to hear him explain to me how this series with the Rays in which the Jays have so far been outscored 19-1 fits into the Toronto Master Plan.

White Sox 15, Tigers 3: The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night. Ozzie Guillen was rooting for them, but after the game he was a bit sad too: “It took us three months to score 15 runs and now
nobody is going to know.”
Remember when Rick Porcello was the hot young pitching prospect we were
all talking about? Yeah, well, that seems like a long damn time ago,
kiddo (3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 6.09 ERA on the season).

Rangers 12, Mariners 2:  The blowouts just keep on coming. Remind me next winter when some team is signing and trading all kinds of dudes to not get too excited about all the “noise” they’re making in the offseason, OK?

Cubs 9, Brewers 2: Randy Wolf gives up five homers and, by his own admission, is living a “nightmare” season.  I think that goes for everyone in BrewersLand.

Twins 6, Royals 2: Carl Pavano gives up two over eight innings to shut down Kansas City. The Royals have a secret weapon though: they drafted the great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson with their last pick yesterday. He’s a catcher. I have no idea if he’s any good, but maybe he’ll teach them how to put the fix in or something.

Reds 6, Giants 3: Buster Posey’s first major league homer was really the only highlight for the Giants. Orlando Cabrera messed around and got three doubles for Cincinnati.

Nationals 7, Pirates 5: After a sellout night for Strasburg, only 18,876 pay to see John Lannan pitch.  I guess I understand that, but Lannan had a pretty memorable debut himself a couple of years ago: he broke Chase Utley’s hand, plunked Ryan Howard and then got tossed.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2: The Yankees lead the season series 10-1. Mercy.

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 1: Ugh. The Dbacks win on an inside the park home run occasioned by Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward slamming into each other in the outfield. McLouth had to leave the game, but he seems OK. The video was scary. Losing a game on that kind of hit is frustrating.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Clayton Kershaw struck out 10 as the Dodgers sweep the Cardinals. The Cards could have scored the tying run in the 9th, but Yadier Molina’s long drive ended up bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double, causing Pujols to have to stop at third.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Joe Saunders goes the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing a lone run.  Dallas Braden, who surrendered five runs on 11 hits, hasn’t done much to write home about since the perfecto.

Padres vs. Mets: Postponed: I can show you that when it starts to rain, everything’s the same.

Marlins vs. Phillies: Postponed: This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must
fall . . . It’s just a little rain…

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.