And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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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.

The Yankees are paying $86 million for a one-inning reliever

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OXON HILL, MD — The Yankees signing of Aroldis Chapman late Wednesday night came as something of a surprise. And the money — $86 million — was something of a shock. Yes, we knew that Chapman was going to break the bank and likely set a record as the highest paid relief pitcher in history, but seeing it in black and white like that is still rather jarring.

In the coming days, many people who attempt to analyze and contextualize this signing will do so by pointing to the 2016 playoffs and the unconventional use of relievers by Terry Francona and the Indians and Joe Maddon of the Cubs. They’ll talk about how the paradigm of bullpen use has shifted and how relief pitchers have taken on a new importance in today’s game. Chapman’s astronomical salary, therefore, will be described as somehow more reasonable and somewhat less shocking than it first seems.

Don’t buy that jive for a second.

Yes, Andrew Miller and, to some extent, Chapman himself were used unconventionally in the 2016 playoffs, but not long into the 2017 season we will see that as an exception, not the rule. And not just because Chapman showed himself unable to hold up to that level of use in the playoffs. It will be the exception because the Yankees have shown no inclination whatsoever to deviate from traditional bullpen usage in the past and there is no reason to expect that they will do so with Chapman in the future.

As you no doubt remember, the Yankees had Chapman, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller for the first half of 2016. Such an imposing back end of a bullpen has rarely been seen in recent history. All of them, however, were used, more or less, as one-inning-a-piece guys and no real effort was ever made to break any bullpen usage paradigms or to shorten games the way many applauded Terry Francona for doing in the playoffs.

Miller pitched 44 games for the Yankees, totaling 45.1 innings. He pitched more than a single inning on only three occasions. Chapman pitched 31 games for the Yankees, amassing 31.1 innings. He was used for more than one inning only twice. Betances worked in 73 games, totaling 73 innings. On 11 occasions he pitched more than one inning.  It was unconventional for a team to have three relievers that good, but they were not, in any way, used unconventionally. Nor is there any reason to expect Chapman to be used unconventionally in 2017, especially given that Miller is not around and Chapman has shown no real ability to be stretched for multiple innings for a sustained period.

None of which is to say that having Chapman around is a bad thing or that he is any less of a closer than his reputation suggests. It’s merely to say that the Yankees paying Chapman unprecedented money for a closer should not be justified by the alleged new importance of relief pitchers or that changing role for them we heard so much about in the playoffs. Indeed, I suspect that that changing role applies only to pitcher use in the playoffs. And I do not suspect that this transaction alone pushes the Yankees into serious playoff contention, making that temporary unconventionality something of a moot point in New York for the foreseeable future.

It is almost certain that the Yankees are paying $86 million for the same one-inning closer Aroldis Chapman has been for his entire seven-year career. His contract may or may not prove to be a good one for New York based on how he performs, but don’t let anyone tell you now, in Decemeber 2016, that it’s better than you think because Chapman will somehow transform into a 1970s-style relief ace or something.

Report: Yankees sign Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million deal

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Update (12:02 AM EST): Rosenthal adds that Chapman’s contract includes an opt-out clause after three seasons, a full no-trade clause for the first three years of the contract, and a limited no-trade clause for the final two years.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Yankees have signed closer Aroldis Chapman to a five-year, $86 million contract. Mark Melancon recently set the record for a contract earned by a reliever at $62 million over four years. Chapman blew that out of the water and many are surprised he didn’t fetch more.

Chapman, 28, began the 2016 season with the Yankees but he was traded to the Cubs near the end of July in exchange for four prospects. The Cubs, of course, would go on to win the World Series in large part due to Chapman. The lefty finished the regular season with a 1.55 ERA, 36 saves, and a 90/18 K/BB ratio in 58 innings between the two teams.

Chapman was the best reliever on the free agent market and, because he was traded midseason, he didn’t have draft pick compensation attached to him.

The Yankees don’t seem to be deterred by Chapman’s domestic violence issue from last offseason, resulting in a 30-game suspension to begin the 2016 regular season.