And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights


Yankees 9, Tigers 5: The play in this one was defined by the six home
runs that were hit (two by Miguel Cabrera), but the game was defined by
chin music. Or at least leg and back music.  After last night’s hard slide
by Brett Gardner knocked Carlos Guillen out indefinitely, Gardner was
plunked in the first. Warnings issued. Fine. But then Chad Gaudin hit
Cabrera in the eighth. No ejections, though, because umpires have a lot
on their minds and can’t be bothered with remembering warnings they
issued a mere two hours earlier. Leyland got ejected complaining about
that. Then Jeter got one thrown behind his back by Enrique Gonzalez and
both Cano and Teixeira got some inside pitches. Still no ejections.

Depending on how you value inside pitches (does three of them = one
plunking?) the Tigers and Yankees are either even on the Great Manhood Ledger or else the Yankees are up 2-1 (slide into Guillen + Cabrera
plunking vs.the Gardner plunking).  Of course, given that the umps
aren’t going to do anything to anyone over all of this I fully expect the scores to
be settled via someone swinging a pillow case full of soda cans at an opposing player, “Bad Boys”-style. I’ll call it now: Ryan Raburn will play the Sean Penn role and Nick Swisher’s will be Esai Morales.

Twins 7, White Sox 6: Gavin Floyd vs. Francisco Liriano was just the latest cracker jack on-paper pitching matchup that fizzled out when both guys proved mortal. Floyd was mortaler, though, allowing all seven Twins runs on ten hits. Bright side for the Sox: the bullpen didn’t blow this one! The Sox are now five games back.

Braves 3, Nationals 2: Once again Atlanta hitters couldn’t do anything against a Nats’ starter for the first few innings, but once again they came through late. They didn’t come through as big as they did on Tuesday night, though, so this one was tied heading into the bottom of the ninth, when Jason Heyward won it for Atlanta with an RBI single. I haven’t mentioned my man crush on Heyward for some time, but I assure you, it still burns.

Marlins 3, Pirates 2: Josh Johnson goes eight, striking out six and allowing only two runs to snag his first win in six starts. Meanwhile, Dan Uggla continues to chug along in what is turning out to be the best season of his career. He hit another bomb in this one, and now has 28 on the season and a quite spiffy .294/.381/.532 line, all three of which would be career highs if the season ended today.

Red Sox 7, Angels 5: The Sox are now 9-0 against the Angels this year. I guess that atones for the 3-0 sweep in last year’s ALDS, huh?

Phillies 8, Giants 2: Can I go back and re-declare the Giants dead? I won’t claim I was 100% right the first time I did it. I’ll just say that I was ahead of my time.

Padres 5, Cubs 1: A double and a couple of RBI for Matt Stairs who, no matter who he plays for and no matter how he’s doing, always makes me happy. Dude has worked for 12 teams in 18 years. Until this year he’s just about always hit pretty well. He’s never complained or been a problem that I can recall. He’s always just taken his suitcase wherever he was wanted and has done what was asked of him. This is probably his last year. This could have been one of his last starts. Glad to see him going out and gettin’ it.

Mariners 6, Orioles 5: Matt Tuiasosopo homers again. Then he scored on a keeper from the four yard line, putting the Huskies up for good. If they hold on here and then beat the Cougars next week, there’s a potential Sun Bowl birth in it for them.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: As Aaron noted, the Brewers were lucky to hold on, but Trevor Hoffman still has enough fumes in the tank to make it a few more miles. Adam Wainwright certainly did enough to win on most days, but the Cards just couldn’t break through against Randy Wolf. Four straight losses for St. Louis.

Royals 9, Indians 7: Cleveland attempted a bit of a late comeback, but it fell short. Let’s face it, though: if you knock 11 hits off Bruce Chen, you should probably win that game. The Tribe, alas, did not.

Athletics 5, Blue Jays 4: Gio Gonzalez was robbed. He gave up only one run on two hits in seven innings, but his pen let him down, allowing Toronto to tie it up in the ninth. In the bottom half the A’s strung together a Steve Tolleson single, a passed ball allowing him to make it to second and then a Cliff Pennington single to knock him in for the game winner.

Rays 8, Rangers 6: As far as playoff previews go, this one was pretty yawn-inducing. Evan Longoria was a stud: his 3 for 4 day, with two doubles, a homer and four RBI led the charge for the Rays.

Mets 3, Astros 2: R.A. Dickey and Brett Myers pitched well, but Dickey ran out of gas in the ninth, allowing the Astros to tie it on a Geoff Blum bomb. The pens each pitched well too, pushing this one into the fourteenth inning when Jose Reyes walked, advanced to second on a sacrifice, stole third and then came in on a sac fly for what what proved to be the winning run. And they say the manufacturing sector is dead in this country.

Reds 11, Diamondbacks 7: Just yesterday I read something about how Arizona’s bullpen had finally settled down a bit under Kirk Gibson’s deft management. Guess they’re still working out the kinks, because Cincy put up eight runs between the eighth and ninth innings, coming back from being down 7-3 to win it going away. The run that put them over the top came on a squeeze play with Jim Edmonds running at third base. I’ll admit it: if I was the Dbacks, I wouldn’t have been expecting that one.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 2: A wild one! Wait, make that a wild three! Octavio Dotel got two strikeouts in the tenth inning, but he allowed Melvin Mora to advance to second on a wild pitch and then come home on a second wild pitch with the winning run. He had a third wild pitch that inning, but it ended up not doing him any additional harm. For what it’s worth, the Dodgers scored their first run of the game on a wild pitch too.

Yadier Molina’s new backup: Cardinals sign Brayan Pena to two-year deal

Brayan Pena Reds
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Veteran catcher Brayan Pena has agreed to a two-year contract with the Cardinals, who’re investing much more than usual in their backup for Yadier Molina.

After bouncing around for a decade without getting even 250 plate appearances in a season Pena signed with the Reds and topped 350 plate appearances in both 2014 and 2015. His production didn’t improve any, as Pena hit .263 with five homers and a .652 OPS in 223 games as a regular.

Pena’s best skill is rarely striking out, which enables him to hit for a decent batting average, but he has very little power and swings at everything. He struggled to control the running game this season at age 33, but has a decent throw-out rate for his career.

Making a multi-year commitment to Pena suggests the Cardinals are no longer counting on Molina being the same type of workhorse behind the plate, which certainly makes sense given his age and injury history. Pena will replace Tony Cruz, who’s been Molina’s understudy since 2011 while hitting just .220 with five homers and a .572 OPS in 259 games.

While we wait for free agent signings: Andrew McCutchen stars in a one-act play

Andrew McCutchen
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It’s a pretty slow offseason so far. We’ve had a couple of minor signings. I guess Jordan Zimmermann is sort of a big deal. But it’s a lot more quiet so far this year than it was this time last year. I suppose there’s no real rhyme nor reason for it. Baseball offseason is long, there is no salary cap and thus there’s no rush to do things too quickly.

So, while we wait, here’s Andrew McCutchen doing his best to kill time until spring training starts:

Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young

Chris Young Getty

Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

David Price said to care about more than just the money

David Price

Every year free agency brings with it its own set of politics and talking points and spin. Factors which are said to be more important to players than the money being offered.

And, to be fair, there is one big factor that is likely more important than money for many of them: winning. I truly believe players want to win. They say it all the time and there’s no reason to think they’re being disingenuous about that, especially the ones who have been around the game a long time.

I’ll note, however, that given how success cycles work in baseball (i.e. teams that aren’t close to being true contenders aren’t likely to be spending big in free agency anyway) that consideration often washes out of the system. Every year you hear of one or two losing teams making a big, competitive offer to a free agent, but it’s not that common.

What I’m talking about more here are the truly soft factors. Factors which often anchor hot stove rumors, but which rarely if ever truly stand out as determining factors when it comes to where a free agent ends up. Examples of these include geographic proximity to where the player grew up, his wife grew up, he went to college or what have you. Remember how CC Sabathia was going to play in California? And Mark Teixeira was going to play for Baltimore? Heck, I’m so old I remember when Brandon Webb was gonna break the bank playing for the Reds.

It’s pretty rare, though, for that to pan out. Sabathia and Teixeira went to New York. If Brandon Webb’s shoulder had cooperated it’s not likely he would’ve ended up in Cincinnati. Money talks for free agents, much louder than any of the soft considerations. Even when, like Mike Hampton and his Denver-public-school-loving self claimed that he signed with the Rockies for reasons other than the fact that they unloaded the money truck for him.

I think we’re seeing a new soft factor emerge. Today Peter Gammons reported this about David Price:

Cities are fairly strong as soft factors go, I reckon. Somewhere south of money and winning but north of “my wife’s family lives there.” Money can make up the difference between a fun city and a lame city, but if things are equal, going someplace you want to be likely is a factor.

But that second one — being able to hit — seems a bit suspect. This is not the first time I’ve heard that this offseason. Zack Greinke was said to prefer the NL because he likes to hit. I’ve heard this about other pitchers too. I question how important a factor that truly is — the actual hitting part actually affecting a free agent decision — as much as I suspect it’s a negotiating tool designed to get AL teams to pay a premium to get the guy to “give up” hitting. Or, more likely, that it’s code for “it’s WAY easier to pitch in the NL because I get to face a pitcher who can’t hit for crap 2-3 times a game.”

On some level I suppose this is all unknowable. I doubt David Price or some other free agent pitcher is ever going to hold a January press conference in which he says the following:

“Well, the money was absolutely equal between the final two suitors and, as you know, both made the playoffs last year and play in cities with copious cultural resources for my family and me. And, having plotted the two cities on Google Maps, I discovered that the two cities are each EXACTLY 347 miles from my Aunt Tilly’s house! What are the friggin’ odds?

Ultimately, though, I signed here so I could bat.”

Like I said, not likely. But wouldn’t it be something if that happened? If so, I’d probably cast a 12-inch statue of Mike Hampton and start giving out an annual award or something.