And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Giants 2, Mets 0: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4 — and was caught stealing after the hit — but Tim Lincecum puts on his 2009 pants and throws a six hit shutout. And RBI double for Pablo Sandoval too, which is a far more important bounceback for the Giants if they want to get back in contention in the West.  Beltran on the caught stealing: “”I was trying to pick up the catcher’s sign,” Beltran said. “I saw two
fingers and I just felt that I was going to be able to make it. I guess
when you drink too many coffees and too much sugar before the game, it
makes you do crazy things.”  I know most baserunners are trying to do it, but I don’t know that I can remember a player saying, right after the game, that he was trying to snag the catcher’s signs like that.

Cardinals 7, Dodgers 1: Like Lincecum, it looks like Chris Carpenter benefited from the time off (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 6K 0 BB). Not so much for Clayton Kershaw, who gave up five runs over four and a third inefficient innings. Joe Torre: “He hadn’t pitched in a week, you’ve got to chalk it up to that.” Rest helps some guy, hurts others. Sometimes I think we don’t know a damn thing about pitching.

Angels 8, Mariners 3: Ichiro Suzuki and Erick Aybar both lead off and both drove in three runs. Eight runs on sixteen hits for the Angels is a good sign after stumbling into the break in a run-scoring funk. Which unlike most kinds of funk, isn’t good!

Cubs 12, Phillies 6: Picked a hell of a day to write my “is Jamie Moyer a Hall of Famer” post, eh? The aged one gets smacked around for six runs in three innings and Ryan Demptser handles the Phillies bats for six innings. Aramis Ramirez hit a couple of doubles and had four RBI and Derek Lee and Geovany Soto each had two-run bombs. Which is how they figured over the winter the lineup would work.

White Sox 8, Twins 7: The White Sox pulled off four hit-and-runs and got all bunty and stuff. As a fan I enjoy watching that stuff. As someone who tries to think hard about baseball, I worry about the diminishing returns of all of that. Worked last night, though. For the Twins, Joe Mauer had three hits and three RBIs, but Kevin Slowey couldn’t miss any bats. Oh, and Justin Morneau is on the DL now, so things just keep getting better for Minnesota.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 2: What happens when the flutterball doesn’t flutter: seven runs pm eight hits in two innings, that’s what happens. Three doubles for Josh Hamilton who now leads the AL in hitting. The Sox have dropped six of eight.

Braves 2, Brewers 1:  Jason Heyward returned. He had no hits, but he made two big defensive plays, each victimizing Casey McGehee. First he threw McGehee out at third when he tried to take two bases on a Jim Edmonds single, then he made a running, smash-into-the-wall catch of a McGehee drive.  In a game as close as this one, both plays were critical.  And with the Mets and Phillies losses, Atlanta leads them in the East by five and five and a half games, respectively.

The Nationals sign Kevin Jepsen

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Chris Cotillo of SB Nation reports the Nationals have agreed to terms with free agent reliever Kevin Jepsen.

Think of this as the latest in what will likely be a series of no-risk bullpen additions. The Nats, basically, collecting as many almost free arms they can find in an effort to fix their bullpen woes without having to give up anything valuable at the trade deadline. Just like the K-Rod signing earlier this week or the Edwin Jackson signing two weeks ago.

Jepsen pitched for Tampa Bay and Minnesota last year, posting a 5.68 ERA with the Rays and a 6.16 ERA with the Twins, appearing in 58 games in all. He went unsigned this past offseason.

Eh, it might work. It probably won’t, but it might.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.