And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 10, Yankees 3: In 1974, Dock Ellis hit three Cincinnati Reds players in a row to start a game. He tried to hit a fourth — Tony Perez — but ended up walking him because Perez kept dodging pitches. He then tried to hit Johnny Bench, but before he could, Pirates manager Danny Murtaugh took him out. The plunkings were intentional, by the way: before the game, Ellis told his teammates that he wanted to make a statement. His exact quote in the locker room: “We gonna get down. We gonna do the do. I’m going to hit these motherf——.”

I’d like to think Javier Vazquez was cool and brash enough to do that before he hit three Rays in a row last night, but we know better. He’s just lost. And this could have been the last time he ever pitches for the Yankees.  Fitting it came in such an ugly game. Both of his stints in New York have been nightmares, more or less.

As for what this disaster of a game means: the season series between these two is over, and the Yankees have a half-game lead. But they also have to play six games against the Red Sox and three against the Jays.  Tampa Bay, on the other hand, plays the Mariners, Orioles and Royals. And the Rays possess the tiebreaker. I like the Rays’ chances, don’t you?

Giants 13, Cubs 0: I did a radio hit last night. Instead of watching any baseball or surfin’ the web before I went on, I read a book. I had been reading baseball stuff and writing all day, so I figured I was prepared.  The host asked me about the Giants, and I said something about how they’ve had trouble scoring runs.  As soon as I got off the phone I checked the scores and saw this.  I would like to thank the host — who I know had the current scores up in front of him at the time — for not totally slamming me with the “well, they’re not having trouble scoring runs tonight!” line, which would have totally thrown me off my game.  Oh, and in case you missed it, Juan Uribe hit a grand slam and a two-run homer in the second.

Dodgers 3, Padres 1: And this one puts the Giants alone back up in first place. This is the first time the Dodgers have beat San Diego in seven games. Rod Barajas: “It’s not like we have nothing to play for. We have pride. You don’t want to be the punching bag.” Took awhile for L.A. to begin to feel this way, but at least they got there.

Diamondbacks 10, Rockies 9: Like watching a stock car run out of gas on the final lap. Carlos Gonzalez did everything he could to get out and push — a grand slam and a two run single while trying to come back from an 8-2 deficit — but he wasn’t getting any help from his bullpen. And the starter — Jeff Francis — had nothing either. Three and a half games back in both the division and the wild card seems awfully large right now, but at least they’re home this weekend against the Giants. The only question now is can anyone around here pitch?

Athletics 5, Rangers 0: Ruh-roh. Dallas Braden one-hit Texas over eight innings and Cliff Lee looked extremely mortal (5 IP, 6 H, 4 ER). The “ruh-roh” is not because I think the A’s can make up seven games with ten to go — that would be beyond nuts — but because the Rangers are looking really, really bad as this thing winds down. You think the Rays and Yankees wouldn’t rather play them than the Twins right now? Think again.

Blue Jays 1, Mariners 0: Felix Hernandez (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) just doesn’t know how to win.

Nationals 7, Astros 2: No Dunn, No Zimmerman, no problem: Mike Morse homered, doubled and drove in three runs and Roger Bernadina and Danny Espinosa each hit two-run jacks.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 2: Hit this one up yesterday. But again — for completeness sake — let me say: poopy pants.

Royals 4, Indians 2: I’m not going to go back and check because I have a pretty good memory for these things, but I’m going to say that the Royals and Indians have played each other 346 times this season. With this win, the Royals assured themselves of no worse than 99 losses. The Indians still need one more win in order to do that.

Brewers 8, Marlins 3: Sandy Rosario made his big league debut in the seventh inning of this one. His first pitch resulted in a Rickie Weeks home run to left. His second pitch was a strike. His third pitch was a Prince Fielder home run to right field. Then he gave up a double and a couple of singles. You know what they call a pitcher whose debut goes as bad as that?  A major league pitcher. And even if this is the only game he ever plays in the bigs, no one will ever be able to take that away from Sandy Rosario, no matter how nightmarish it was.

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.