And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Nationals 3, Braves 0: Stephen Strasburg was scratched, but at least he showed up at the ballpark. Can’t say the same for the Braves. Hell, I think they’re still stuck in the Miami airport waiting for their charter to D.C. Whoever it was playing in the road uniforms last night didn’t seem to give a rat’s patootie about this game, though. Two of the three Nats’ runs were unearned because the dudes wearing the Brian McCann and Chipper Jones replica jerseys threw the ball all over the place. Give a hand to Miguel Batista, though, for stepping in on short notice and throwing five innings of shutout ball. Whether it was against impostors or not, that’s some gutsy baseball right there.

Mets 8, Cardinals 2: Home sweet home for the Mets as they lay the beatdown on Adam Wainwright. Jeff Francoeur had a three-run homer because God wanted my Tuesday night to be as crappy as possible from a baseball perspective. In related news my dream last night was Kent Hrbek, Jim Leyritz and the ghost of Eric Gregg ganging up on me in an alley while Lonnie Smith yelled at me to “Run! Run! Run like your life depends on it, Craig!”

Indians 4, Yankees 1: Josh Tomlin makes his major league debut and shuts
down the Yankees over seven innings. At this point I would like to
mention that I saw Tomlin pitch here in Columbus back in May and
at the time I said that he looked better than anyone the Indians had on
their roster at the time, so maybe they should call him up
. I would also like to point out that Tomlin is facing felonious assault charges right now, — UPDATE: the charges were recently reduced to “disorderly conduct” — so maybe he figured “screw it; no reason to save any energy for tomorow because there may be no tomorrow for me.”

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 5: Six straight for the Phillies behind homers from Werth and Howard. Bad news though too: Shane Victorino left the game with an oblique injury. Bad news for Arizona too as Justin Upton left with a bum hip.

White Sox 11, Mariners 0: Know how I know the Mariners suck? They had nearly a dozen runs scored on them by a team who was using Juan Pierre as their DH. That’s how I know the Mariners suck. Ryan-Rowland Smith keeps getting starts for these guys too. I mean, I keep telling Don Wakamatsu that Smith is bluffing and that he’d never release the pictures to the media because they’d be just as damning for him, but he apparently doesn’t believe me.

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Carlos Pena and Matt Joyce account for all the Rays runs. Joyce had the big hit on Monday night too. Given how charitable Detroit is to former Tigers, I expect Joe Maddon to employ the following lineup for tomorrow night’s game:

1. Ron LeFlore CF
2. Lou Whitaker 2B
3. Rusty Staub DH
4. Darrell Evans 1B
5. Kirk Gibson RF
6. Larry Herndon LF
7. George Kell 3B
8. Lance Parrish C
9. Ray Oyler SS

Yeah, it’s not perfect –Ray Oyler turns 72 next week and couldn’t hit when he was 30 and George Kell is dead for cryin’ out loud — but I like their chances against the current Tigers squad, don’t you?

Oh, and B.J. Upton got hurt too. Bad night for the Uptons. I’m going to assume that it was like Cheech and Chong in the Corsican Brothers and that each felt the others’ pain.

Rangers 3, Athletics 1: The Rangers just got done putting the Angels in
their place as would-be competitors and now they’re doing the same thing
to the A’s, who are tied with Anaheim for second. Cliff Lee was his
usual astounding self: Complete game nine innings (of course). No walks (of course).
Thirteen strikeouts (of course). Game score for pitchers isn’t the
be-all end-all, but it’s fun. Lee’s game score of 88 was the same as
Ubaldo Jimenez’s score for his no-hitter and the same as Armando
Galarraga’s for his near-perfect game.

Astros 6, Cubs 1: All this effort to trade Roy Oswalt when Brett Myers is (a) having a better year; and (b) is way more tradeable given his contract. Another great outing for him last night (CG 4 H, 1 ER, 12K). Ted Lilly did nothing to hurt his trade stock either, as he threw five and two-thirds shutout innings. They weren’t the most efficient innings on the planet, but good is good. The score is a function of a bullpen implosion.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 2: Jose Bautista clubbed two more homers, bringing his league leading total to 30. It’s probably time for the O’s to shut Kevin Millwood down for the year following yet another awful outing. He’s either still injured or else he has a giant fork sticking out of his back.

Giants 6, Marlins 4: I declared the Giants dead a few weeks ago. Which goes to show you that you should never listen to anything I have to say about anything ever.

Dodgers 2, Padres 0: We should all probably thank the Padres and the Braves for taking one for the team and giving us all a couple of nice tight races this summer when they really didn’t have to. Billingsley Kuo and Broxton combine for the shutout.

Red Sox 4, Angels 2: John Lackey gives up two runs in seven and a third against his old mates. He was booed lustily by the Anaheim crowd in his second game against the Angels since leaving via free agency, though first in California.

Pirates 4, Rockies 2: Colorado is 2-10 since the All-Star break. It’s like the bizarro version of one of those incredible runs like they went on last year or in 2007.Clint Barmes after the game: “We’ve been playing bad baseball. We’re not doing the little things.”  That’s not fair, Clint. You guys aren’t doing the big things either.

Twins 11, Royals 2: Another day against the Royals another double-digit offensive output for the Twins. Another big day for Danny Valencia too, who went 4 for 5 with three RBI.  And the 13th win for Carl Pavanostache.

Reds 12, Brewers 4: Cincinnati raps out 19 hits and pull back into a tie in the NL Central. This was probably the ugliest game of the night. Eleven pitchers allow 28 hits, neither starter goes four innings and the whole shebang lasts 3:41. Edinson Volquez is probably back from surgery too soon, by the way. He may feel good but he has no command.

Report: Rays having “advanced talks” with free agent reliever Tommy Hunter

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported this morning that free agent reliever Tommy Hunter required core muscle repair surgery earlier this offseason. Coming off a disappointing 2015, it’s understandable why he’s still on the market, but it sounds like he has at least one significant lead.

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times hears that the Rays are having “advanced talks” with Hunter as they attempt to add an experienced arm to their bullpen. Nothing is considered close and Hunter is also talking to other clubs. Meanwhile, the Rays have been in touch with veteran reliever Ryan Webb while monitoring the trade market.

Hunter posted a 2.88 ERA as a late-inning arm from 2013-2014, but he compiled a mediocre 4.18 ERA over 58 appearances last season between the Orioles and Cubs. On the bright side, his velocity has held steady and his control is still very good. Despite the down year and core muscle surgery, Topkin writes that Hunter may be holding out for a multi-year deal.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.