And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

3 Comments

Mariners 7, Yankees 0: Having Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez shut the Yankees down in back-to-back games was exactly how the Mariners drew it up this offseason. Only they figured it would happen in meaningful games in October as opposed to playing-out-the-string-already-time in late June.  But hey, dominance is dominance, and King Felix had it in abundance last night (CG SHO, 2 H, 11K). Still, I’ll be curious to read how the tabloids pin this on some fatal Yankee flaw this morning, because how else could they ever lose a game?

Dodgers 8, Giants 2: You know what’s fun? Building an entire video segment around how Matt Kemp is struggling and how you don’t know what to make of it and you don’t know when it will end, taping it, and then prior to post-production being completed, having Kemp go 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI. But screw it, we’re gonna post the video later because if we didn’t then you wouldn’t get to see me wearing a shirt with a collar that gaps up all crazy and stupid looking. Mr. DeMille: I’m ready for my closeup.

Astros 5, Brewers 1: Could have been worse. I gave serious thought to doing a “what the hell is the matter with Wandy Rodriguez” segment. Wandy: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 6K.

Braves 4, Nationals 1: Jair Jurrjens returned, looked sharp, struck out a lot of guys until he ran out of gas in the fifth and sixth. But that’s OK because he’s not exactly in midseason form from a conditioning perspective right now. And really, given how they’re hitting the ball, the Nats are essentially a rehab start-quality opponent to begin with.

Royals 7, White Sox 6: Greinke was basically cruising — giving up a lot of hits, but allowing only one run — until the eighth when he came crashing back to Earth and the Sox plated five. KC held on, however, lucky to have built up that 7-1 lead through seven.

Padres 13, Rockies 3: Just another game in that bandbox they call a ballpark down in San Diego. The Rockies and the Padres combined for 41 runs in this three-game series. Clayton Richard was on point last night, though (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 10K).

Rays 9, Red Sox 4: The bottom of the order — Sean Rodriguez, Kelly Shoppach and Jason Bartlett — got the job done for Tampa Bay, combining for seven RBI. Matt Garza was solid into the eighth, striking out five and walking two and allowing three runs on six hits (two of the three runs scored after he left the game).

Pirates 2, Cubs 0: My daddy said “son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you can’t start hittin off hot Brad Lincoln.” Um, let’s just move on, shall we?

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 2: Say what you want about Yankees-Red Sox games taking forever, but at least those teams have a bunch of great players and stuff. This one featured a Barry Enright-Jeff Suppan matchup that went nearly four hours. Oy vey.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 1: Aaron Laffey’s wife had a son yesterday and he used that as inspiration for his winning performance: “With runners on base or when I was behind in the count, I thought,
‘Come on, your son was born yesterday, you can’t give in.'”  Which is crazy. The day after our kids were born we were each so physically and/or emotionally drained, giving in was the only option. Really, I think I let my then-19 month-old daughter smoke cigarettes the day the boy was born, because I just couldn’t find the will to do anything but acquiesce. By all rights Laffey should have walked 16 dudes and left the mound in a heap. Good for him for not doing so.

Orioles 9, Athletics 6: Five homers for the O’s, including a Luke Scott solo shot in the seventh on which he injured his hamstring during the trot. Assuming it’s not a totally serious injury, you can bet he’ll be fined a righteous amount of money in kangaroo court as God, nature and kangaroos intended.

Reds 4, Phillies 3: I hit this one up yesterday. Fun way to pass the time yesterday afternoon: reading people who pay no attention to the NL Central write things afterward to the effect of “Hey, you know what? The Reds are pretty decent.”

Twins 5, Tigers 1: I hit this one up too. Random fact ESPN threw out there in their recap: “The Twins improved to 38-0 this season when leading after eight innings.” I’d be curious to see the numbers on this for every team. I’m guessing that while hardly any other teams are undefeated in such situations, most if not all teams have overwhelmingly good records. I guess this is just a more polite way of suggesting that Joe Nathan’s injury hasn’t turned out to be that big a deal.

Rangers 6, Angels 4: Vlad was a one-man wrecking crew: grand slam in the fourth, solo shot in the eighth and a double and a single to go along with the blasts. Mike Scioscia: “He’s obviously at a level we haven’t seen in a
couple of years.” No kiddin’.

Mets 6, Marlins 5: The Mets salvage the three-game series with a win despite allowing 17 hits. It helped that the Feesh made four errors. Edwin Rodriguez: “I think it was a good ending, other than the loss.” I’m inspired. How about you?

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

Getty Images
1 Comment

Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.