And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Diamondbacks 14, Mets 1: I was tempted to say that Adam LaRoche’s two three-run home runs yesterday are just the latest example of second-half greatness from a great second-half player, but check out his month-by-month OPSeseses: April: .953; May: .787; June: .698; July: .669. Contrary to his reputation, he’s gotten worse as the season has gone on. I wonder if those bombs are the opening salvo to a furious August and September to salvage that reputation.  Jerry Manuel on the Mets’ performance: “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit, we didn’t play defense.”

Rays 3, Yankees 0:
That’s eight of nine for the Rays, who pull to within one of the
Bombers. Joe Girardi felt obligated to use all of his shiny new toys —
Kearns! Berkman! Wood! — while giving A-Rod and Brett Gardner the day
off.  Made the box score look all Central Divisiony to me.

Reds 2, Braves 1: Some shaky defense and tons and tons of stranded runners by the Braves wastes an excellent performance by Tommy Hanson. Both Reds runs were the result of Braves’ defensive miscues: if Jason Heyward didn’t try to make a diving catch on Brandon Phillips’ triple it would have at best been a double with no run scoring, and of course, Alex Gonzalez’ error gave the Reds their second run. I’d rather they just get beat 14-1. When that happens I just let the game fall out of my head. These coulda-shoulda-woulda games stick with me all damn afternoon.

Phillies 6, Nationals 4: Philly had to come from behind and then get two RBI singles in the 11th to avoid a sweep by the Nats. Charlie Manuel had no problem giving Brad Lidge the ball to close this one despite him giving up the walkoff homer on Saturday night. Ryan Howard sprained his ankle in the first inning and was hobbling around the clubhouse in crutches after the game. For as bad as the Braves have been playing lately, if Lidge keeps closing and key players keep getting hurt for Philly, you have to like Atlanta’s chances.

Angels 4, Rangers 1: Jered Weaver and Cliff Lee are probably the two best starters in the AL this year. The former outpitched the latter yesterday. The Angels are still way back, but taking two of three from Texas may be the start of something, right?

Padres 5, Marlins 4: Josh Johnson has his worst start of the year, giving up five earned runs. Indeed, it was the first time he had given up more than three since his first start back on April 5th.  Ryan Ludwick gets a pinch hit and comes around to score in his Padre debut.

Rockies 8, Cubs 7: The Rockies are a streaky bunch. They take their fourth in a row after that big losing skid coming out of the break. Dexter Fowler saved the game with this awesome catch in the ninth, but he probably bought himself some time on the DL too. Way to take one for the team, Dex. Bad day medically all around, as Cubs’ starter Carlos Silva left the game in the first with an irregular heartbeat.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 1: I know it’s statistically impossible, but it at least seems like every single time Adam Wainwright pitches his line looks like this: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5K.

Twins 4, Mariners 0: Francisco Liriano struck out 11 and gave up only two hits. The M’s have lost seven in a row, three of which have been shutouts. Just terrible, terrible baseball. Who gets fired first: Wakamatsu or Manuel?

Astros 5, Brewers 2: See, all the Astros needed to do in order to go on a tear was trade away their best pitcher and best hitter. Seems obvious in hindsight. A pinch hit grand slam in the seventh by Jason Michaels was the big blast here.

Royals 5, Orioles 4: Bruce Chen was in a hell of a jam in the sixth — bases loaded, no one out — but reliever Kanekoa Texeira bailed him out. Texeira after the game: “I told Bruce today, ‘Big guy, I got your back. Bruce, don’t worry.” Amazing. No, not Texeira’s foresight, but rather that was the first time in his 33 years on Earth that anyone has ever called Bruce Chen “big guy.” By the way: anyone know what ever happened to Jung Bong?

White Sox 4, Athletics 1: A complete game with 11 strikeouts for Gio Gonzalez, but it was not enough on a day when Gavin Floyd had a perfect game into the sixth inning. Dude’s been on fire for basically two months and the Chisox simply don’t lose at home anymore.  Speaking of New Comiskey: I was chatting with my HBT Daily/Extra cohort Tiffany the other day, who just got back from a trip to Chicago. She contends that a day at Comiskey is way better than a day at Wrigley. I’ve not been there, but based on her and others’ descriptions — and based on my own experiences at Wrigley — I think I can see that. I bet that, rooting interests notwithstanding, serious Chicago baseball fans would make a strong case for the South Side simply because you don’t have all of that party atmosphere baloney going on down there. Thoughts?

Red Sox 4, Tigers 3: Nice vulture job by Papelbon, as he blows the save in the ninth yet was the pitcher of record when the Tigers threw the ball away to allow the winning run score on a bunt single in the bottom of the ninth. I wonder if some day Clay Buchholz will have 288 wins or something and some baseball writer will keep him off his Hall of Fame ballot because he “just didn’t know how to win.”

Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: If Cleveland could play Toronto 162 games a year they’d be, like, the best team ever. They’ve taken six of seven from the Jays, this one on the strength of a two-run homer from Asdrubal Cabrera.

Giants 2, Dodgers 0:
Matt Cain threw shutout ball into the eighth, and both Giants runs came
in on an Edgar Renteria triple in the sixth. I usually watch a good bit
of the Sunday night game if not all of it, but I randomly picked up
“Ball Four” last night and started thumbing through it. By the time I
looked up I realized that the damn game was most of the way over.
I certainly consider it time well spent, however.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

Pittsburgh Pirates first baseman Travis Ishikawa hits an RBI-single off Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias to drive home Neil Walker in the seventh inning of a baseball game, Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015, in Cincinnati. The Reds won 4-3. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Andy LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.

Mariners sign reliever Joel Peralta

Joel Peralta
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Right-hander Joel Peralta has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Mariners that includes an invitation to spring training.

Peralta spent last season with the Dodgers and was limited to 29 innings by neck and back problems, posting a 4.34 ERA and 24/8 K/BB ratio. Los Angeles declined his $2.5 million option, making him a free agent.

He was one of the most underrated relievers in baseball from 2010-2014, logging a total of 318 innings with a 3.34 ERA and 342 strikeouts, but at age 40 he’s shown signs of decline. Still, for a minor-league deal and no real commitment Peralta has a chance to be a nice pickup for Seattle’s bullpen.

White Sox sign Mat Latos

Mat Latos
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Jerry Crasnick reports that the Chicago White Sox have signed Mat Latos.

Latos was pretty spiffy between 2010-2014, posting sub-3.50 ERAs each year.  Then the injuries came and he fell apart. He pitched for three teams in 2015 — the Dodgers, Angels, and Marlins — with a combined 4.95 ERA in 113 innings. And he didn’t make friends on those clubs either, with reports of clubhouse strife left in his wake.

In Chicago he gets a fresh start. It doesn’t come in a park that will do him any favors — Latos and U.S. Cellular Field don’t seem like a great match — but at this point beggars can’t be choosers.

 

Jason Castro loses arbitration hearing against Astros

Jason Castro
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Veteran catcher Jason Castro and the Astros went through with an arbitration hearing over a difference of $250,000 and the three-person panel ruled in favor of the team.

That means Castro will make $5 million this season rather than his requested amount of $5.25 million. This is his final year of arbitration eligibility, so the 29-year-old catcher will be a free agent after the season.

Castro showed a lot of promise early on, including making the All-Star team at age 26 in 2013, but since then he’s hit just .217 with a .650 OPS in 230 games. His power and pitch-framing skills are a valuable combination even within sub par overall production, so 2016 will be a key year for the former first-round draft pick.