And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 1, Yankees 0: Zeros through ten innings, eight a piece for CC Sabathia and David Price. Then the bullpens took over. Joe Girardi had everyone scratching their heads with his choice of relievers for the ninth and extras: Kerry Wood, Boone Logan, Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre. Girardi said after the game that Joba needed more rest, which is strange, given that he hasn’t pitched since Friday. Same with Robertson, though that’s a bit more understandable given that he threw 36 pitches on Saturday and he usually gets a couple of days off after games like that. Rivera? Being held out in case a save situation arose. Whatever, Joe, it’s not like this was a series that’ll decide the division or anything . . . Still, Wood, Logan and Gaudin got it done, more or less. Mitre was a palooka too far, though, and he gave up the walkoff homer to Reid Brignac.

Mets 1, Pirates 0: This one was 0-0 through nine as well. Then Joe Girardi telepathically willed John Russell to put in Chan Ho Park for the tenth, allowing Tejada to double and Evans to single him home. Dillion Gee went six and three relievers combined for the other four shutout innings for the Mets.

Padres 6, Rockies 4: A big win for San Diego keeps the Rockies at bay and pushes the Padres ahead of the Giants by a half game. Miguel Tejada drove in four. It’s the first time the Padres have scored five runs or more in weeks. Colorado’s winning streak ends at ten.

Phillies 11, Marlins 4: Four RBI for Chooch Ruiz and homers from Werth, Utley and Dobbs (one of these things/is not like the others/one of these things/just isn’t the same).

Braves 4, Nationals 0: My reverse-jinx/whatever from HBT Daily continues, as yesterday I said Derek Lowe wasn’t very good and last night he threw eight shutout innings with 12 strikeouts. I also said that Jair Jurrjens was running out of gas, so I fully expect him to throw 13 shutout innings tonight.

Athletics 3, Royals 1: Bobby Cramer made his MLB debut and got the win,
allowing one run on four hits in five and a third. According to the game
story, Cramer was out of baseball in 2005-06 and during that time was a
substitute high school teacher and worked on oil pipelines. Then
he played in the independent leagues and then on to the Mexican League. I
haven’t seen a picture of the guy yet, but are we sure Cramer isn’t
really Kenny Powers?

Astros 4, Brewers 2: Houston is 29-16 since trading Roy Oswalt away, which is not exactly what I would have expected. Going all-in with Brett Myers is definitely paying off as he has yet another damn fine start (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 10K). Prince Fielder sat this one out with flu-like symptoms. It’s the first action he’s missed in 327 games.

Reds 7, Diamondbacks 2: Two bombs for Jay Bruce in his first game back in two weeks. With this win the Reds (a) clinch a winning season; and (b) eliminate the Cubs from the playoff hunt. It’s a math thing. I know the Cubs didn’t think they were hunting anymore.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1: The Cards have been thinking they were hunting, but they’re pretty much out of ammo at this point. How they got blanked by Jeff Samardzija is a friggin’ mystery.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: Another extra innings affair, this one with some actual runs scored in regulation. Luke Scott hits the walkoff RBI single. The Orioles bat the Jays for the first time in 13 tries this season. All of those were back in the Trembley/Samuel dark ages, though.

Red Sox 5, Mariners 1: Jon Lester was tough: he struck out 12 Mariners and surrendered only three hits over eight innings. The start put him over 200 Ks for the year for the second straight year.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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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 Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.