And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Yankees 9, Athletics 3: I suppose it’s inevitable that the Yankees will soon start getting burned by their starters only going four or five innings, but right now it’s working. And hey: they’re all alone in first place. Why?

Blue Jays 13, Rays 5: Because the Rays got annihilated when the Jays put up a 10-spot in the sixth inning. I was going to make that “Gashouse Gorillas doing a conga line around the bases” joke I do a few times a year here, but I did it just a month ago!  And it involved the Blue Jays then too!  I’m starting to worry that I’m not as clever and original as I like to think I am.

Astros 3, Cardinals 0: Land sakes, this is getting ugly. That’s four straight in the crapper for St. Louis, seven of eight and, of course, two straight listless shutouts in a row to the Astros, who are the spoilingest spoilers this side of Spoilsburg.

Reds 8, Brewers 4: And that makes for a seven game lead for the Redlegs. Aroldis Chapman made his major league debut. And see, I told you that 105 miles per hour business was totally fraudulent. He only hit [gulp] 102. Joey Votto got “MVP!” chants. I think those Cincy fans got a point.

Marlins 1, Nationals 0:  I didn’t see any highlights from this as I was convinced by the missus that I needed to watch “True Blood.” I dunno. Ask me after I’ve seen more than the first two episodes.  Anyway, it seems that Nyjer Morgan could have scored a run for the Nats in the 10th inning, but he decided he’d rather try to plow over catcher Brett Hayes than slide like a normal human being.

Pirates 14, Cubs 7: The Pirates were cruising and then Sean Gallagher came in and allowed five quick runs. The outcome was never really in doubt, but the Pirates can’t even rest when they’re up 14-2.

Twins 4, Tigers 3: Detroit clung to a 3-2 lead into the seventh but then Phil Coke walked one dude and then plunked two more to load the bases. Ryan Perry came in and walked in a run, and then he gave up an RBI single to Delmon Young. That’s teamwork!

White Sox 4, Indians 3: Manny’s White Sox debut will wait another day. He was on deck, though, waiting to pinch hit in the ninth when A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer to break the 1-1 tie. I just hope that trip to the on deck circle didn’t gas poor Manny, thus making him unavailable for this afternoon’s game.

Braves 9, Mets 2: Luis Castillo bobbled what could have been a double play ball in the fifth and after that the floodgates opened. I’m guessing there will be a lot of folks who want to kill Castillo over that, but (a) there still would have only been two outs in the inning, and the Braves scored a couple of runs before what would have been out number three; and (b) Jon Niese still had to serve up that fat pitch David Ross deposited in the seats for a grand slam.

Orioles 5, Red Sox 2: The O’s just keep rolling along. Baltimore went 17-11 in August (17-10) with Buck Showalter. This season is always going to look ugly in the standings, but there is some serious hope for 2011 being built here.

Phillies 8, Dodgers 4: Ryan Howard and Brian Schneider each had three-run homers as the Phillies find some of that long lost offense. Carlos Monasterios, the Dodgers starter, said this through his translator after the game: “I was trying to pitch my game, but they were able to read all my pitches.” Gentlemen: there’s a spy among us. Sitting in this very room!

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 4: Six straight losses for the Padres. The losses to Philly I get. These to the Dbacks I don’t.

Giants 5, Rockies 2: Andres Torres led off the eighth inning with what proved to be the winning home run. Only four back of San Diego now.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: KIng Felix allowed only three hits and no runs through seven while striking out eight. No decision, though, because he got no run support while he was in the game. That’s the story of his season.

Royals 10, Rangers 9: Ties 9-9 in the ninth, Willie Bloomquist stole third with one out and then came home with the winning run when Alexi Ogando threw a wild pitch. Wait . . . what’s that? Um, I’m sorry everyone. The guild just informed me that I am obligated to say that Ogando “uncorked” a wild pitch. If you have any questions about this please consult the rulebook you’ve all been provided. The wild pitch stuff comes right after the chapter on “ensuing kickoffs.”

Mets closer Jeurys Familia receives a 15-game suspension for domestic violence

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Mets closer Jeurys Familia has received a 15-game suspension for domestic violence.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets last year while posting a 2.55 ERA. The Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

Familia has released a statement:

Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did,however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has a statement as well:

My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016.  Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.  My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor.  The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016.  Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.

It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions.  Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 ninety-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.  Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.

2017 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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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 Milwaukee Brewers.

Every year, Major League Baseball plays host to two casts of characters: the contenders and the rebuilders. You might find slight variations — the rebuilders who stand a chance of contending, the contenders on the verge of rebuilding, or those stuck somewhere in between — but by and large, the lines are clearly drawn.

The 2017 Brewers, for better or worse, are rebuilders. Sure, you won’t find them at the bottom of the NL Central come October (that place is unequivocally reserved for the Reds), but neither will you see them snag a Wild Card berth or run away with the division title. This is the year of cultivating a fertile farm system, giving their big league prospects room to stretch and grow and figuring out whether Ryan Braun has a future in Milwaukee beyond 2017.

If the Brewers did anything right this winter, it was deepening their reserves at nearly every position. Behind the plate, Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and newly-acquired Jett Bandy bandied for the spot. Susac injured his back during camp, and while the MRI results didn’t reveal any significant damage, it doesn’t look like he’ll be healthy in time for Opening Day. Milwaukee skipper Craig Counsell has yet to identify a full-time catcher and could start the year with Pina and Bandy in a hybrid role after both backstops impressed during spring training.

Eric Thames replaced Chris Carter at first base, and while he’s expected to split duties with Jesus Aguilar, appears to be an unconventional acquisition for the Brewers. On paper, the two look miles apart. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 home runs and an .821 OPS for the club in 2016, pairing his league-leading homers with a league-leading 206 strikeouts. Thames, meanwhile, flamed out in the majors in 2012 and has not returned to the major league stage since. Never mind that he has only ever played the outfield or that he’s technically made only 181 big league appearances in the last five years, though. Over the past three seasons, he mashed an incredible .349/.457/.721 with 124 home runs and a 1.178 OPS for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, and the three-year, $16 million contract he signed with Milwaukee will look like a steal if he can replicate those numbers in the United States.

The outfield posed another set of questions for the team, who was looking to fill right and center field with a combination of Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez, Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kyle Wren. Broxton and Santana claimed spots in center and right, respectively, with Nieuwenhuis beating out the rest of the backup candidates to secure his position as the team’s fourth outfielder. Braun will resume his station in left field after a quiet spring training, during which he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic or most of the Cactus League competition in order to stay healthy for the upcoming season. (At least, that’s one plausible reason. He also told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal’s Todd Rosiak, “I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.”)

Of course, every team in the throes of rebuilding has at least one weak spot, and the Brewers are no exception. The starting rotation lacks clarity and talent outside of Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, both of whom flourished in their sophomore campaigns with Milwaukee in 2016. The club acquired left-hander Tommy Milone on the cheap, adding him to a lengthy list of candidates that included right-handers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson. Spring training did little to illuminate a clear path for the rotation: Garza imploded, Peralta shone, and Nelson and Anderson proved inconsistent at best.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better beyond newly-minted closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year, $5.35 million deal with the Brewers after polishing off a healthy, productive season with the Pirates in 2016. While his bounce-back season looked like a good omen for Milwaukee, Feliz struggled through a rough spring, working 10 hits, six runs, three walks and seven strikeouts through nine innings in camp. He appears to be fully recovered from the “biceps fatigue” that curtailed his last season in Pittsburgh, and Counsell believes that he’ll improve with more reps this spring.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the club is hurting for left-handed relief after optioning their only lefty candidate, Brent Suter, to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week. A suitable replacement for Suter has yet to be named, but there’s some chatter that Milone could assume a position in the bullpen if necessary.

Overall, the Brewers didn’t improve their major league roster as much as they stabilized it, opting for low-cost stopgaps while they condition younger, less-seasoned players waiting to break through to the bigs. A plethora of high-caliber prospects crowd the upper rungs of their farm system, so much so that the club has had difficulty trying to find enough room for all of them to develop at the appropriate level. Just take Triple-A Colorado Springs, which boasts a talented outfield of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips and rotation battles among Hiram Burgos, Josh Hader, Paolo Espino, Wilkerson, Taylor Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang and the aforementioned Brent Suter, among others.

Milwaukee is looking at a bright future, to be sure, but that future won’t be fully realized right now. The Brewers’ 2017 season will undoubtedly be more satisfying for its front office than its fans, unless those fans also have a ticket to Security Service Field. Given a few more years to develop their prospects and build out their farm system, however, these rebuilders could begin to look something like contenders.

Prediction: 4th place in NL Central.