APTOPIX NLCS Giants Phillies Baseball

Roy Oswalt gets it done on the mound, on the bases as the Phillies tie up the NLCS at 1

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The best part of this game came right after it was over, as FOX’s Ken Rosenthal was interviewing Jimmy Rollins:

Rosenthal: “What does this game do for you, Jimmy?”

Rollins: “Well, it puts us tied 1-1.”

Some things just are as they appear, you know?

Like Roy Oswalt dealing. There was no magic here. There was nothing more than what met the eye: Oswalt throwing lots of strikes, challenging Giants hitters to do something with them, only to have them fail over and over again. Cody Ross got another homer on what must have been a mistake pitch — no way that Chooch and Oswalt mean to throw him yet another middle-in fastball, right? Not after he hit that pitch out twice against Halladay, right? — but that was about it. Oswalt threw eight dominant innings, striking out nine and allowing only that homer and a couple of singles.

But that wasn’t all. Oswalt contributed on the basepaths as well, singling, then taking second on a sacrifice, then scoring from second on a Placido Polanco single. Which he really shouldn’t have scored on, by the way, as third base coach Sam Perlozzo had the stop sign up as Oswalt approached third. I guess Roy couldn’t hear him over the sound of the swooshing satin of the warmup jacket he was wearing while on base, because he kept coming and slid home ahead of the relay throw to make it 3-1 Phillies. There probably shouldn’t have been a relay throw. If the ball wasn’t cut off, Oswalt may have been nailed at the plate. It ended up being a moot point, though, as the Phillies scored three runs on a bases-clearing double by Rollins later in the inning, putting the game out of reach.

For the Giants part, Jonathan Sanchez started out shaky, unable to make the ball go where he wanted it to. He walked in the game’s first run during his 35-pitch first inning. If early in the game you would have told me that Sanchez would pitch into the seventh I would have said you were crazy, but he settled down and did just that. He had some help getting there though, as many Phillies hitters — notably Jayson Werth and Rollins — thought it was a good idea to do some first-pitch swinging. Such an approach prolonged Sanchez’s night, but the Phillies made it into the San Francisco bullpen eventually, and when they did it was goodnight Irene.

With this series, like the Yankees-Rangers series, tied 1-1, we have ourselves a competitive couple of League Championship Series, no? On Tuesday it will be Hamels vs. Cain by the Bay. Now that the Phillies have figured out how to pitch to Cody Ross — or at least they hope they have — someone in a cream, black and orange uniform had better figure out how to hit the ball, or else this thing isn’t coming back to Philly.

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.