And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 8, Marlins 7: First place. Homers from Howard, Ibanez and Victorino and a go-ahead single from Placido Polanco in the eighth put the Phillies in the catbird seat for the first time since May 30th.

Pirates 5, Braves 0: The Pirates have allowed more runs than any team in baseball this year, yet the Braves have scored just one run in eighteen innings this series. No offense to the Pirates intended, but if you get your ass handed to you by the Pirates pitching staff the way the Braves have these past two games, you don’t deserve to sniff the playoffs, let alone contend for them.

Orioles 6, Yankees 2: And while it’s nowhere near as bad getting beat by the resurgent Orioles, Yankees fans have to be feeling much the same as Braves fans this week. Jake Arrieta (6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER) stifles the Bombers as CC Sabathia is denied his 20th win as the Orioles take another from New York.

Rays 14, Red Sox 5: Five homers for the Rays, who break their losing streak and pull to within one and a half of the Yankees. The bad Dice-K showed up and nibbled. David Price did his usual “walk a lot of guys and pitch relatively inefficiently yet still get the win” thing.

Tigers 9, White Sox 1: The winning streak ends, and how. Freddy Garcia — who has been a Tiger killer lately — had to leave the game early with a bad back. Someone should have told him that when you go out tiger hunting — in case of accidents — you should always bring your mum.

Twins 10, Royals 3: That’s the thing about the Twins: no matter how much the Sox have surged, Minnesota has surged right along with them and have always seemed to take advantage of Chicago’s missteps. Delmon Young and J.J. Hardy combined to drive in seven.

Rockies 4, Reds 3: A three-run bomb from Carlos Gonzalez helps the
Rockies win their fifth straight. I had previously all but handed the
MVP to Joey Votto, but Gonzalez has thrust himself into the conversation
with his — and his team’s — white-hot run of late.

Padres 2, Dodgers 1: But the Rockies are going to have to catch the
Padres for that to happen, I think, and that’s hard when Mat Latos
pitches like this (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10K).  The Dodgers, by the way, are
snoozing their way towards the end of the season. Nice career and
everything, Joe Torre, and we’ll see you in Cooperstown soon, but you
need to go.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 3: Tim Lincecum helps the Giants keep pace, mowing down 11 batters while giving up three runs through six and
two-thirds. Homers from Huff, Sanchez and Burrell.

Brewers 4, Cardinals 2: Trevor Hoffman gets his 600th save. Great for Hoffman, who has definitely seen some bad times this season. Oh, and home plate umpire Bob Davidson ejected a fan in this one, which is something you don’t see every day. I’d be inclined to rip Davidson because he’s almost always wrong about everything, but word buzzing around the Internets last night was that the fan who was ejected was being abusive to Yadier Molina all night and was probably drunk. It’s a shame that the ump had to take care of his good-for-nothin’ ass instead of an usher or other ballpark personnel.

Astros 7, Cubs 3:
Carlos Silva’s return didn’t go too swimmingly (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER).
Nelson Figueroa gets the win. Why don’t I remember him coming to
Houston, though? I mean, I know I saw him in Mets camp down in Port St.
Lucie, and I remember the Phillies picking him up briefly, but the
Astros? In some ways it’s been a very long season.

Blue Jays 8, Rangers 5: Two homers for Vernon Wells, as the Jays take it to the reeling Rangers. The way all the other first place teams are playing lately, I should probably just call a Twins-Phillies World Series right now.

Mets 4, Nationals 1: Mets starter Dillon Gee took a no-hitter into the sixth in his major league debut. It’s been eight hours since this game ended and I’ve already heard too many “Gee!” puns. Next person who does it is gonna get fined.

Indians 6, Angels 1: The Angels look so lifelike lying in that box. Still, when I go, I’d prefer to be cremated, because ceremonies like this are so awkward. Oh well. Let’s go to the widow’s house. I hear there will be cold cuts and casseroles.

Mariners 7, Athletics 5: Compared to how they’ve been going, a seven run night for Seattle is equivalent to [tapping calculator keys while wearing green eye-shade . . .] 125 runs.

Angels ink Javy Guerra to minor league deal

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Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that the Angels have agreed to terms on a minor league contract with right-handed reliever Javy Guerra. The deal includes an invitation to major league spring training.

Guerra was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball last July after testing positive for a drug of abuse. That suspension is now over, though Guerra is probably ticketed for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate to begin the 2016 season.

The 30-year-old made just three major league appearances in 2015 for the White Sox before getting outrighted off Chicago’s 40-man roster. He does own a 2.87 ERA in 150 1/3 career innings, but it has come with bouts of inconsistency and unreliability.

Maybe he can get everything going in the right direction with Anaheim.

Braves sign reliever Carlos Torres

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As first reported by Bill Shanks of Fox Sports 1670, the Braves have signed right-handed reliever Carlos Torres to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Torres was waived by the Mets in January, somewhat surprisingly, and elected to become a free agent. The 33-year-old ultimately chose Atlanta, where he should have a good shot at an Opening Day roster out of spring training with the rapidly-rebuilding Braves.

Torres posted an ugly 4.68 ERA in 57 2/3 innings last season for the Mets, but he registered a gorgeous 3.06 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 97 innings in 2014.

If he gets off to a good start in 2016, he could become valuable trade bait.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.