And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Rangers 3, Angels 2: The Rangers get Cliff Lee and unleash him on their division rivals! Not to be outdone, the Angels acquire Alberto Callaspo!  Wait, that’s totally being out-done. It’s been a nice run, Anaheim, but you just ain’t got the horses this year.

We now begin a stretch of five straight games in which the losers were shut out:

Phillies 2, Cardinals 0: Cole Hamels and Adam Wainwright respectfully disagree with the notion that the Phillies and Cardinals should be fighting over who lands the big pitcher at the trade deadline. Each would prefer some run support, thank you. Eight innings of one-hit ball for Hamels, six innings of shutout ball for Wainwright, neither in on the decision. Placido Polanco and Jayson Werth come through in the 11th for the Phillies.

Dodgers 2, Mets 0: If it’s Thursday it must mean that the Mets are getting shut out in California. Hiroki Kuroda this time, who combined with Hong-Chih Kuo to blank New York. All of the scoring came via the bat of Matt Kemp who hit a homer and had an RBI double.  In other news, this is the kind of nightmare road trip that gets managers fired.

Braves 8, Padres 0: Tim Hudson shuts down the Padres as Alex Gonzalez, Jason Heyward and Chipper Jones lead the way on offense. After the game Chipper said this team reminded him of the 1995 Braves. I guess he’d know best. My view: needs more Lemke.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 0: Matt Cain and Brian Wilson spin a three-hit
shutout of the Dbacks. Buster Posey extends his hitting streak to
sixteen games.

Twins 5, Orioles 0: A five-hit shutout for Carl Pavano, replete with all kinds of ejecty-goodness for a very frustrated Orioles team. Aaron Gleeman with the fact of the day: “Carl Pavano has now started 32 games for the Twins: 17-10 with 3.72 ERA, 140/35 K/BB ratio in 217.1 IP.” Yankees fans, you may now bang your head against a table.

Nationals 7, Reds 1: Watching pitchers fresh off Tommy John surgery is like watching Ash in “Evil Dead II.”  Sometimes they kick ass, sometimes they have absolutely no control over their own hand. The ball was going all over the place for Edinson Volquez, and Adam Dunn used his boomstick to hit a two-run home run off him.  Hail to the king, baby.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 6: John Lackey had a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and the Bosox had a 6-1 lead entering the ninth when the pen — and to be fair, the defense — imploded, allowing Seattle to tie it. Eric Patterson saved everyone’s bacon with a two-run double in the top of the 13th, but really, this was a near disaster for Boston.  Oh, and check out this sick catch by Ichiro to rob Big Papi of a homer.

Yankees 10, Royals 4: Inside the park homer for Jeter (and some pfun pfacts about it!). Home run number 599 for A-Rod.  All hail the Royals’ AL-high team batting average: fourteen hits a piece for the Royals and the Yankees, a six-run difference on the scoreboard. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

Brewers 3, Pirates 2:  The top of the eighth inning ended with Prince Fielder (ginormous) barreling into Pirates’ catcher Erik Kratz (humongous) on a play at the plate.  The reverberations were felt all the way back home in Milwaukee, ripping the ground wide open and causing this Cadillac Escalade to be swallowed by the Earth.  True story.

Marlins 3, Rockies 2: A walkoff RBI single for Ronny Paulino gives the Feesh their third win in four games against the Rockies, who certainly haven’t started out the second half of the season the way they wanted to.

Tigers 5, Blue Jays 2: The Jays had opportunities to extend an early two-run lead, but stranded runners and failed to get a timely hit or two. After that Verlander bore down and Toronto just didn’t have a chance.  The Jays ran themselves out of an inning when Yunel Escobar got thrown out trying to stretch a double into a triple with two-outs in the seventh. Cito Gaston: “I’m sure our coaches will talk to him about that play. You can’t go for third in that situation unless you know you are going
to make it standing up. You can score just as easily from second with
two out as you can from third.” Somewhere Bobby Cox chortled good luck wishes to the Blue Jays coaches.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.