And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 3, Braves 1: If, before last night, you said “on Monday the Braves are going to start a minor league swingman who has never thrown a pitch in the bigs against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park and Philly will only score three runs,” I would have been fairly shocked and ultimately pleased, as far as it goes. But it could have been Greg Maddux v.1995 and it wouldn’t have made a difference because the Braves bats were just terrible. Not to take anything away from Cole Hamels, who was excellent, but Atlanta had its chances, but just hit into double plays and stranded guys and made bad errors and that’s pretty much the story of the last month.

By the way, I was amused at all of the “LoL! Braves suck!” sentiment from Philly fans on Twitter last night. Yes, my friends; the two-time defending National League Champions hung three whole runs on something called “Brandon Beachy” and the second string of the Braves bullpen. Clearly, your rooting interest was fearsome in its triumph. But hey, at least you Philly people have your own version of The Gimp.

Yankees 8, Rays 6: Curtis Granderson hit two homers, but each time the ball was devoured by the giant, insatiable head of the horrible, mammoth Steinbrenner Monument, which — due to its sheer mass — violated multiple laws of thermodynamics, came to life and sought something on which to feed. Just looking at it I can hear that “Xanadu: the costliest monument a man has built to himself!” voice-over running though my head over and over.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 0: Chris Volstad with the five-hit shutout. All the scoring came on a Brad Davis grand slam in the second. This one only lasted one hour and fifty-two minutes, allowing those in attendance to catch the whole game and still make it to the early bird special to steal Sweet N Low packets or whatever it is people who like to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon to save a couple of bucks do in Florida.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 2: When Daisuke Matsuzaka dies, they’ll reprint a box score like this one instead of writing an actual obituary, because it pretty much captures his entire essence as a pitcher (6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4K, 109 pitches). I got simultaneously bored and annoyed just reading that which, again, captures the essence of Dice-K.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Yuniesky Betancourt was 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBI in a losing cause, blah, blah, blah . . . I’m more interested in the game story notes: “Brandon Inge’s two strikeouts gave him 1,094 in his career, leaving him five short of Lou Whitaker’s franchise record.”  Lou Whitaker? Really? I know he had longevity on his side but I would have guessed Willie Horton first and then maybe Norm Cash. Seems that they’re fifth and third, respectively, with Al Kaline coming in fourth. Never would have guessed Inge to even be top ten. Then again, if you had asked me before I looked, I never would have said that he’s played for the Tigers since 2001. Someone, please: where in the hell did the last decade go?

Astros 8, Nationals 2: The smallest crowd in the Nats brief history paid to watch the hometown nine throw/drop the ball all over the field, allowing four unearned runs to score in the fifth.

Twins 9, Indians 3: Danny Valencia hit his third homer in the last four games, this one an upper deck shot. But by far the coolest thing going for the Twins last night was that people were sending around this link to this week’s Sports Illustrated cover. I’m not a Twins fan by damn sight and it got me goin’. I’m guessing Aaron will have to take the day off to recover.

Reds 5, Brewers 2: Back-to-back homers by Votto and Rolen break a 2-2 tie and put the Reds back up by seven games. Zee magic number, she is six.

Athletics 3, White Sox 0: That’s seven straight losses for Chicago who, if I let my imagination run wild, I envision all working together to get their manager that job down in Miami that he seems to want. And hey: Boof Bonser sighting: he pitched the seventh and picked up the win, his first in over two years.

Angels 7, Rangers 4: David Murphy went 5 for 5, but it wasn’t enough as the Angels finally gave Jered Weaver some run support. The Rangers can’t clinch in this series, but they can when they move on to Oakland next.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.

Report: The new collective bargaining agreement reduces players’ meal money

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez provides a previously unreported detail of the new collective bargaining agreement, agreed to by the owners and the players’ union last week. Players’ meal money for road games is being reduced from $105 to $30 per day. Teams are providing pre- and post-game meals in the visitors’ clubhouse to offset some of the decrease in meal money.

Gomez quotes an unnamed player who said, “I doubt many guys know about the money going down, nor would they have agreed to it.” All of the players Gomez contacted said they were unaware of and unhappy about the change.

Clubhouse attendants are certainly unhappy about this change, too. As Gomez notes, the attendants previously provided food for visiting teams which earned them tips from the players.

EDIT: It’s worth clarifying that chefs are required in clubhouses now as part of the new CBA, so it’s not a complete loss for the players.