And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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White Sox 15, Royals 5: Ladies and gentlemen: your first place Chicago White Sox.  Chicago has made up 10 games since June 9th, going from 9.5 out to .5 up. Without question, the most unexpected surge of the year. Yes, they had help from the Twins and, to a lesser extent, the Tigers’ poor play, but Ozzie Guillen’s squad is on fire. It has to kill them to be taking four days off right now, but it’s a break they’ve earned even if it’s one they don’t want.

Twins 6, Tigers 3: Which of these two are going to get it together and chase down the White Sox? I still like Minnesota overall. Maybe this win heading into the break will turn their heads around. Awful last week or so, though, no question about it.

Mets 3, Braves 0: Johan Santana pitches his second gem in a row, shutting out the Bravos over seven. It was merely a series-salvager, however, as the Mets dropped two of three to Atlanta over the weekend. Carlos Beltran comes back on Thursday, and we’ll see if that’s enough to launch New York forward.

Cardinals 4, Astros 2: What, Jeff Bagwell taking over as hitting coach didn’t bring immediate dividends? You know, if I didn’t know better, I’d say that firing Sean Berry and replacing him with a team legend was just a P.R./scapegoat move. Wait, forget I said anything. That’s just crazy talk.

Phillies 1, Reds 0: A four game sweep of a good team heading into the break has to give the Phillies some amount of relief after a roller coaster first half. Still — and not to take a thing away from Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels, who pitched Saturday’s and yesterday’s gems, respectively — Philly needs to figure out how to score some freakin’ runs, and fast.

Yankees 8, Mariners 2: The Yankees won it easily but anonymous front
office sources later said that the way the Mariners played was
totally bush league
that it was horsesh– that they had to
split the gate
.

Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: Dice-K allowed two runs and six hits, pitching into the seventh, while walking none and
striking out five. Only threw 88 pitches too.  I think the guy is totally schizophrenic, though, so next time look for 97 pitches (42 strikes, 55 balls) in, like, four innings.

Brewers 6, Pirates 5: Milwaukee went down 3-0 in the second, tied it up, went down 4-3 in the sixth, tied it up and then went down 5-4 in the ninth and won it on a two-run walkoff homer from Corey Hart.  Like I said in the Power Rankings not too long ago: Milwaukee has had a bad first half, but unlike some other teams in dire straits, they’ve never looked or felt like they were packing things in.

Rays 6, Indians 5: Walkoff RBI single for Jason Bartlett as the Rays take three of four from Cleveland and hit the break on a roll. Cleveland walked ten dudes, and you’re just not going to win doing that.

Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 0: Your standard six-pitchers-combine-for-a-shutout shutout. More amazing than the Marlins’ pen combining to keep Arizona off the board, however, was the fact that the Arizona bullpen threw four shutout innings of its own. That’s equivalent to like 40 real bullpen innings.

Padres 9, Rockies 7: San Diego salvages one of the three-game series in order to stay two up of the red hot Rockies and the less-hot-but-still-chugging Dodgers. A Matt Belisle throwing error on a comebacker allowed the Padres to go ahead in the eighth and Heath Bell got the five-out save to ice it.

Athletics 5, Angels 2: Trevor Cahill, the A’s starter in this one, was replaced on the All-Star roster by Jered
Weaver, the Angels starter in this one. But . . . since he can’t pitch on Tuesday either, he was replaced by A’s reliever Andrew Bailey who also pitched in this one. He’s a reliever though, so I guess that’s cool.  Weaver’s contract calls for a $50K bonus for making the All-Star team, by the way, and I assume he gets it for the 11 seconds he was on the squad. I’m picturing Angels owner Arte Moreno sitting in his office with a rather dazed look on his face right now.

Orioles 4, Rangers 1: The Orioles take four straight from the Rangers, which included some long balls on Saturday to render Cliff Lee’s Texas debut an ignominious one. Baltimore’s season may be a loss from a horse race perspective, but there’s a lot of pride to be regained and — let’s face it — some good old fashioned spoilin’ to be done. The Orioles are a more talented team than their record suggests. Maybe they can at least make the most of a bad situation.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 0: I can’t decide if that little 55 mile per hour
eephus/curve/whatever it is pitch Vicente Padilla throws is totally
annoying or the coolest thing ever. I mean, I like garbage pitches like
that as a matter of course. But I can’t enjoy watching Padilla do it for
some reason. Still, it was effective as all get out last night.

Giants 6, Nationals 2: Three RBI for Travis Ishikawa, who has been raking since the Molina trade, which gave him a chance to get out of the pinch hitting role. Since then the Giants have been scoring runs by the bucketful too. Coincidence, I think not.

Report: Dodgers could pursue three-year deal with Rich Hill

LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Rich Hill #44 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches in the first inning against the Chicago Cubs in game three of the National League Championship Series at Dodger Stadium on October 18, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Free agent left-hander Rich Hill is rumored to be entertaining a three-year, $40+ million offer from the Dodgers, reports Peter Gammons. The Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo corroborated the report, adding that Hill could receive somewhere between $46 and $48 million from his former team.

Hill, 36, pitched to a 2.12 ERA and 3.91 FIP in back-to-back stints with the Athletics and Dodgers in 2016. While a chronic case of blisters on his pitching hand limited the frequency of his starts, he still figures to be one of the most productive and noteworthy starting pitchers on the market this winter.

The Orioles, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers and Astros have all been mentioned as potential suitors for the left-hander’s services, though Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette said the club has yet to make a play for Hill and ESPN’s Jim Bowden pointed out that the Red Sox are less involved in trade talks than other interested parties.

Yankees in, Red Sox out on Edwin Encarnacion

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 19:  Edwin Encarnacion #10 of the Toronto Blue Jays looks on against the Cleveland Indians during game five of the American League Championship Series at Rogers Centre on October 19, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
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In light of the Astros’ deal for veteran designated hitter Carlos Beltran on Saturday, the Yankees are thought to be intensifying their pursuit of free agent Edwin Encarnacion, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. The Yankees never made an official offer to Beltran, but remain in need of a DH/first baseman to give them a little more power outside of a Tyler AustinGreg Bird combo in 2017.

The Red Sox, on the other hand, are reportedly withdrawing their interest when it comes to the Encarnacion sweepstakes. According to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, they will look for a hitter to beef up their lineup without taking a “big plunge” on the 34-year-old.

Encarnacion enjoyed another All-Star run with the Blue Jays in 2016, hitting at a .263/.357/.529 clip with 42 homers and a league-leading 127 RBI in 702 PA. He’s expected to command a significant contract in free agency, and agent Paul Kinzer said that a potential deal is unlikely to be finalized before the Winter Meetings as Encarnacion is not close to agreeing to any offer. Interested teams include the Blue Jays and the Astros, though Beltran’s signing appears to have effectively taken Houston out of the running for the slugger.