And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Red
Sox 13, Rockies 11
: Laser show: Dustin Pedroia: 5 for 5 with three
homers including the game winner in the tenth. Torture session: This
game: four hours and forty-eight minutes and not a decent pitching
performance in sight. Deja vu: Jonathan Papelbon: blowing a save and
giving up a couple of runs.

Phillies 12, Indians 3: Like I said yesterday, I think Charlie Manuel deliberately got himself run from this one because it was hot, he knew the storms were coming, he knew the Indians weren’t gonna offer much of a challenge and he’d rather be back in the clubhouse hoistin’ the moist. As it was, Polanco, Utley and Werth all hit the cover off the ball, Joe Blanton was solid and not much help was needed from the bullpen. I guess that means the Phillies are back on track.

Brewers 5, Twins 0: Gallardo was on, the Twins’ bats were dormant and the Brewers complete the sweep. Which would all be well and good if . . .

White Sox 2, Braves 0:  . . . the White Sox weren’t storming up the hillside like some crazed horde. They sweep Atlanta, who can sort of identify with Minnesota at the moment as a team that similarly can’t get its mojo workin’ and is in danger of falling out of first place.

Tigers 6, Mets 5: But if the Braves fall out, it won’t be before tonight. Atlanta keeps its half game lead because Hisanori Takahashi just didn’t have his mojo workin’ (4 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 4 BB).  After he was gone the Mets bullpen took care of business, but the rally never came in earnest.

Blue Jays 5, Cardinals 0: The Jays jumped on Adam Wainwright for five runs on six hits — three of them dingers, two of those by Vernon Wells — in four innings, sending that tall drink of water to the showers earlier than he had left in any game since September 2008.

Astros 7, Giants 5: Matt Cain got jumped on as well, getting pummeled even worse than Wainwright did (2.2 IP, 9 H, 7 ER). In contrast, Wandy Rodriguez snapped out of whatever funk he’s been in all year, only allowing a couple of unearned runs in his six innings.

Cubs 3, Mariners 2: Thank goodness the M’s lost, because if they somehow get themselves back in the race they won’t trade Cliff Lee and that’s dozens of would-be rumor-trafficking blog posts I’ll never get to write.

Rays 5, Padres 3: The Rays salvage one. Padres manager Bud Black said after the game that he wants you, he needs you, but there ain’t no way he’s ever gonna love you, now don’t be sad, ’cause “two out of three on the road in this environment against this club, a
good feat accomplished.”  OK, I may have paraphrased the bit before the quotation marks, but I’m pretty sure that’s what he was driving at.

Orioles 11, Marlins 5: Both of these teams were interested in getting Bobby Valentine as their manager. The loser won. The loser of this game, I mean. Valentine? Oh, he’s aces.

Dodgers 10, Angels 6: The Dodgers finally break their losing skid at six games. More bad baserunning in this one, with Reggie Willits getting nailed in a rundown between third and home and Bobby Abreu getting thrown out at third trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt. Abreu was also caught stealing once, but it happens. What doesn’t happen: Jamey Carroll was called safe at second base when sliding in after advancing on an Andre Ethier comebacker. He assumed he was out, though, wandered off the bag on his way back to the dugout and was tagged out.  After the game Joe Torre and Mike Scioscia sent notes home with all the players asking the moms and dads if it’s OK for them to stay late for extra practice tomorrow.

Rangers 6, Pirates 5: Eleven wins in a row for the Rangers, this one on a walkoff RBI single by Vlad.  Bankruptcy schmankruptcy. Maybe the Rangers don’t need to make any moves at all.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

Jose Bautista Blue Jays
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Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.

The Rays are REALLY ready to get to work on that new ballpark

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Last month St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays reached an agreement that would allow the Rays to seek a new ballpark outside of the St. Pete city limits, anywhere in the Bay Area. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports¬†today that the Rays have submitted a required report to that end which “describes how they plan to evaluate potential ballpark sites across the Tampa Bay area” and serves as a rough outline of the sort of facility they’re looking to build.

They submitted it 39 days before deadline. Ya think they’re eager to get moving?

As for the specifics, it sounds like they’re shooting for a Braves or Cardinals style destination place with surrounding entertainment, retail and the like. The Braves are achieving that by basically building the park at a mall and plan to surround it with other mall/entertainment district-type development. The Cardinals built a downtown park, but have developed Ballpark Village after the fact. This is to be contrasted with downtown parks which either counted on existing city businesses or spurred separate development.

All of which makes sense given that there isn’t one dominant location in Tampa which all but demands development there. Tampa has a few different areas that might make sense and the place is generally more spread out than older cities. It also makes sense for the Rays’ owners who are likely well aware that being in the real estate business is just as good for them as being in the baseball business.

Will anyone EVER break that record that was broken nine years ago?

Hank Aaron
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In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run. He would go on to hit six more, finishing his career with 762. That was nine years ago and, at present, the active home run leader is nearly 80 homers behind him and no sure bet to come close. The next closest guy is over 200 homers back and clearly entering a period of decline.

All of which raises the question: will anyone EVER pass the home run total of Hank Aaron, who is in second place on that list?

Maybe you think that’s not really a pertinent question. We tend not to ask whether people who do not, by any objective measure, hold a record will have their records surpassed. But you’d be wrong. Why, just today, on Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday, at least two journalists speculated whether anyone would ever become the all-time second place home run king:

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That’s from Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated. As always, it’s excellent work from Cliff. Right up there with his seminal “will anyone ever catch Lou Brock in stolen bases?” and “who can catch Trevor Hoffman in career saves?” pieces.

Then there’s Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who approves of the question posed and has his own response:

You can imagine how those tweets were received by those parts of Twitter who are all about PED apologia, math, objective standards, noting that Aaron admitted that he took a PED that would have him banned today too and stuff like that. As always, these things get ugly.

Not that they have to be. It’s almost as if, if one were to try, one could celebrate the amazing inner-circle Hall of Fame career of Hank Aaron, full as it is with nearly unsurpassed accomplishment, without applying a revisionist gloss to the one accomplishment that, according to all objective measures and the accounting of Major League Baseball, has been surpassed. That one could talk about Aaron without slagging on Bonds.

Angels claim Christian Friedrich off waivers from Rockies

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Last week the Rockies parted ways with left-hander Christian Friedrich, designating the former first-round draft pick for assignment, and today the Angels claimed him off waivers.

Friedrich was the 25th overall pick in the 2008 draft and twice cracked Baseball America’s annual top-100 prospects list, but now he’s 28 years old with a 5.81 ERA in 167 innings as a big leaguer after back problems halted his development.

At this point Friedrich’s best bet to stick in the majors seems to be as a reliever, where his fastball-slider combination could work well in shorter stints.

To make room for Friedrich on the roster the Angels dropped 26-year-old infielder Taylor Featherston, who was originally drafted by the Rockies in 2011.