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.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Joe Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.