And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Athletics
3, Pirates 2
: Kurt Suzuki should have been out number three in the
eighth inning, but Pirates’ catcher Jason Jaramillo dropped a pop foul
and two pitches later Suzuki hit the game winning dinger. Losing like
that would be a total back breaker for Pirates fans if their bones
hadn’t been ground to dust as a result of the team’s futility already.

Yankees 8, Dodgers 6: Talk about a bullpen implosion. Jonathan Broxton blew a 6-2 lead in the ninth and then George Sherrill gave up the game-winning homer to Robinson Cano in the 10th as the Yankees take two of three from the Dodgers.

Orioles 4, Nationals 3: Break up the O’s! Four straight wins including a sweep of the, well, sure, why not, rival Nationals.  And they’re guaranteed not to lose tonight because they got the day off!

Indians 5, Reds 3: Shin-Soo Choo hit two bombs as the Indians win their first game since a week ago Friday. Matt LaPorta has been up and down, but this was his first start as the unequivocal starting first baseman. His functional debut: 0 for 4, two strikeouts and he grounded into a
double play. Excelsior!

Angels 10, Rockies 3: Brandon Wood hit a grand slam, and I still can’t
get used to seeing the name “Francisco
Rodriguez
” in the Angels’ box score and have it not be K-Rod. Each
time he shows up I think it’s 2008 again, both my kids are in preschool
and I still work at the law firm.

Padres 4, Marlins 2: Will Venable has had a number of key homers in the past week and his two-run job in the eighth yesterday turned out to be the game winner. What say you, Will?  “Yesterday he struck me out with three straight splitties so I knew I
had to be patient. He came with the splitties again and I
was able to go deep enough in the count that he was forced to try
something else and threw a fastball middle-in and I was able to get a
good swing on it.”  We comfortable with “splitties?” I don’t think I am, frankly.

Phillies 11, Blue Jays 2: Jamie Moyer gave up a homer and now owns the all-time record for dingers allowed all by himself, but as was the case with the start in which he tied the mark, he pitched damn well: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 7K. The Jays committed four errors leading to six unearned runs. The hometown fans probably didn’t like that one bit.

Diamondbacks 2, Rays 1: The Rays were no-hit on Friday and two-hit on Sunday. What’s more, they came close to engaging in fisticuffsmanship with each other in the process. Not a good weekend for Tampa Bay.

Mets 6, Twins 0: Homers from Frenchie, Wright and Ike were more than enough given Jon Niese’s six shutout innings and three additional zeros from the bullpen. With the Braves loss the Mets are once again knocking on the door in the East, a mere half game back.  The Twins, on the other hand, are a mere half game up on the Tigers after having lost seven of ten.

Tigers 10, Braves 4: Heyward, Strasburg and a bunch of other guys have gotten all the ink, but there may not be anyone having a better rookie year than Brennan Boesch. Boesch goes 2 for 3 with a homer and three RBI, and now sits at .338/.389/.621 on the season. It might be time for the Braves to worry about Tommy Hanson as the kid got shelled for the second straight start.  But hey, they get to face Stephen Strasburg tonight, so that’s fun.

Cubs 8, White Sox 6: The Chisox finally lose a game, but they had a little rally at the end to make it interesting for a bit. Four RBI for red-hot Tyler Colvin.

Brewers 3, Mariners 0: Chris Narveson shut out the M’s over eight innings. Every time I see his name I think of Kal Varnson. The Brewers should get a relievers named Pennypacker and Vandelay.

Royals 10, Cardinals 3: The Royals take two of three from the Cards after beating up on Jaime Garcia to the tune of five runs on four hits. Jose Guillen has a 21-game hitting streak going right now. Not that this makes him Superman or anything. The last Royal to have a hit streak this long was Rey Sanchez, and no one is carving his visage into any malleable metals. Also worth noting that 27 of his 31 hits during the course of the streak have been singles.

Rangers 10, Astros 1: Josh Hamilton has a 21-game hitting streak of his
own. His has more pop to it than Guillen’s, however, including a homer in the second inning last night that is still flying, I think. And while I like to think teams’ scouting is more sophisticated than this, you have to wonder if the fact that Roy Oswalt got lit up for eight runs on seven hits in four and two-thirds isn’t the kind of thing that’ll make the Rangers less likely to want him.

Red Sox 5, Giants 1: A 103-pitch complete game for Jon Lester with nine strikeouts. Tim Lincecum was knocked out after giving up four runs on five hits and three walks in three innings. Big Papi hit one into McCovey Cove. According to the game story, it was picked up by a kayaker. With Barry gone, I’m surprised anyone still floats around out there. Oh, and because the Sox haven’t had enough injuries lately, Victor Martinez fractured his left thumb.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
Associated Press
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.