And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Braves 4, Mets 1: Johan Santana struck out 11 Braves, but they nickled
and dimed him for three runs in the first and then Chipper Jones knocked
one out off him in the seventh. Chipper’s career may be on death’s
door, but he could wake up in 2027 and hit a home run off the Mets. It’s
just what he does. And you bet your bippy I have this one first with a pic of Jones hitting the bomb because it will drive Mets fans nuts.

Rays 4, Twins 2: Jeremy Hellickson gets called up, makes his major
league debut, allows two runs on three hits over seven innings while
beating one of the hottest teams in baseball and then is promptly sent
right back down to Durham. I bet he’ll be on a bus this afternoon,
telling the other Durham Bulls about how you never handle your luggage
in the
show, somebody else carries your bags. About how you hit white
balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the
hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and
brains.

Indians 6, Red Sox 5: I’m not linking to video of Carlos Santana’s knee injury, nor do I even want to think about it. I watched the play once — won’t watch it again — and I couldn’t tell based on my one viewing of it if Santana was out of position or messed up in the way he took that throw. All I can think is about how, as I watched him hit multiple times in Columbus this year and once in Cleveland, that the guy was born to have a bat in his hands but never looked quite right behind the plate. I hope he makes it back and proves me wrong next year.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 6: An ineffective A.J. Burnett watched the Jays make like the Gashouse Gorillas and do a conga line around the bases in the fifth inning and Alex Rodriguez went 0 for 5, but I’m sure this was somehow Joba Chamberlain’s fault. Six doubles for the Jays in that 5th inning, by the way, two of which came off the bat of Travis Snider.

Reds 4, Pirates 0: Travis Wood toyed with the Buccos, shutting them out on two hits over seven innings. Miguel Cairo continues to play decidedly un-Miguel Cairolike baseball, getting two RBI and keeping his average at a cool .300 on the season.

Brewers 18, Cubs 1: I accidentally closed out of the page with the box score so I can’t be 100% certain, but I’m pretty sure this one ended with the mercy rule being applied in the fourth inning and Lou Piniella talking his players out for ice cream afterwards, telling them that the point of the game is to simply try your best.

Astros 9, Cardinals 4: I didn’t watch any of this game, but based only on the box score I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Tony La Russa overthought the matchups with his bullpen and once again pulled his best reliever out of the game in order to go with an inferior one that God Almighty himself wouldn’t put into the game in that situation. If that’s what happened, I’ll take it one step further and guess that La Russa did not accept any responsibility over this afterward and instead said something like “God Almighty doesn’t have access to my super secret pitching charts and assorted genius goodies.”  Welcome to St. Louis, Jake Westbrook (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 7K).

Athletics 6, Royals 0: If you polled 100 casual baseball fans I wonder how many of them would be able to tell you the first thing about Trevor Cahill. Whether it’s because he’s on the west coast or because he’s an Athletic I’m not sure, but I’m guessing the number is small. A shame too, because the kid is something else. He three-hit the Royals last night, moving to 11-4 on the season and lowering his ERA to 2.72.

Padres 10, Dodgers 5: Chase Headley had four hits including a three-run bomb and Will Venable homered and drove in four. The Dodgers matched the Padres in the hit department with 14, but hit into double plays, stranded runners and generally played like a team that looked like it’s nine games out of first place. Which it is.

Nationals 3, Diamondbacks 1: I’m trying to think of anything more annoying for an opposing fanbase than to have the local nine get totally flummoxed by Livan Hernandez but I can’t think of a thing. He just throws his slop up there and — when the slop is working — you just can’t do anything with it despite it looking like you should be able to totally crush the guy. It was working last night (7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5K).

2017 Preview: Chicago White Sox

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Chicago White Sox.

After a couple of years of an all-in approach with a core of Chris Sale, Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, Todd Frazier, Adam Eaton and friends, Rick Hahn and the White Sox finally decided to tear it all down. And they tore it all down pretty productively, actually, dealing Sale and Eaton for a boatload of prospects, leading with Yoan Moncada, who has hit .287/.395/.480 with 23 home runs, 100 RBI and 94 stolen bases in 187 minor league games.

They also picked up righthander Michael Kopech who hits triple digits on the regular, one-time top prospect and still-promising Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez and 2016 first-round pick Dane Dunning. They all join existing young talent like Tim Anderson, Carlos Rodon, Zack Collins, Carson Fulmer and Alec Hansen. The system, she is stocked.

 

In addition to all that new talent, the Sox have a new manager in Rick Renteria. What he’ll have to work with at the big league level is somewhat spotty, however, and could change pretty radically as the season wears on.

Still in house: Carols Quintana, Frazier, Cabrera and David Robertson, all of who are likely on the trading block (we know Quintana is). Hahn will entertain offers for anything not nailed down which, in this case, means anyone over the age of 25 or so. We could give a blow-by-blow of the offense, the pitching and the defense like we normally do here, but if you’re an obsessive White Sox fan you know that stuff already and if you’re not, all you really need to know is that between those inevitable departures and the loss of their ace in Sale and their best position player in Eaton, last year’s 78-wins are gonna seem like a distant memory.

Beyond trading stars for prospects, the White Sox have signaled that they’re in non-compete mode in other ways as well. New in the fold: Derek Holland, Peter Bourjos and Geovany Soto. Veterans who do a task or two well, go about their business and, if they have a super nice year, can get dealt at the deadline. In short, the lifeblood of a rebuild, not the stuff of greatness. There’s nobility in fulfilling that role even if there aren’t a lot of wins to be found in it.

Where are some wins to be found? Jose Abreu had a down year in 2016 and could be better this year. Both Holland and James Shields are capable of better years than they had last year. Indeed, it’d be close to impossible for Shields to be worse. They’ll have Carlos Rodon, who took a step forward last year and could be poised for a breakout. Quintana and company will be around until July most likely before they’re traded and before Hahn begins to call young dudes up for second half cups of coffee.

And that’s what this season is about, really. The cups of coffee. Seeing what the Sox have in their young talent, particularly Moncada, who has little left to prove in the minors, even if he spends some more time there and Rodon, who is already a key part of the big club. They may lose just as many games or more than they lost the past couple of seasons, but they’ll do it with more interesting players who fans can imagine being better in a White Sox uniform one day. And, heck, if someone develops a bit more quickly than expected, it could actually lead to good baseball. At least here and there.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League Central.

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.