Rafael Soriano

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Twins 3: The Yankees got a solid six innings from Ivan Nova and then went Joba-Soriano-Mo for the seventh, eighth and ninth. Since this is obviously a strength of the team and will become a recurring pattern, I’m going to preempt all of the cheeseball broadcasters and columnists who like to apply nicknames to would-be teams of destiny or, at the very least, their component parts: the back end of the Yankees bullpen is JoSoMo. You can put the inflection wherever you want. It doesn’t matter, because the point is to create something catchy enough to stick but lame enough to where everyone will feel a little bit dumb repeating it.  Say it with me: JOsomo. Or joSOmo.  Whatever. I really don’t care!

Braves 2, Brewers 1: One of those days where both of the starters — Brandon Beachy and Chris Narveson — deserved to win, but the difference makers in this one were the pens. Takashi Saito served up gopher balls to Martin Prado and Dan Uggla while Peter Moylan, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel shut down the Brew Crew in the seventh, eighth and ninth. Kimbrel was particularly impressive, striking out the side to close it out with sick, knee-high mid-to-upper 90s heat.  If he has banished the control problems he had in the minors, forget about it National League. And, what the hell, let’s try it: MoyVenKim. Er, well, maybe not. Sounds like something you don’t want to order at the non-specific Asian restaurant in the strip mall next to the check cashing place that puts out the “under new management” sign every eight months. Or, if you change the inflection a bit, it could be a Yiddish word my Aunt Ruth used to say all the time to refer to minorities in a derogatory fashion while in polite company. (“I’m telling you dahlink, that moyvenkim down at the oriental place really messed up my order of Moy-Ven-Kim yesterday. Just inedible. And such small portions!”)

Orioles 5, Tigers 1: Break up the O’s! Baltimore wins again, moving to 4-0 on the season, which is their best start in 14 years. Once again young pitching comes through, with Jake Arrieta giving up one run over six innings. On offense the big shot came on a Brian Roberts three-run bomb off Rick Porcello who at one time, I assure you, was thought of as the Next Big Thing even if he hasn’t looked it for a while.

Cubs 4, Diamondbacks 1:  Damp, chilly and windy conditions led to a ghost town in Wrigley. Indeed, there may have been more seagulls swarming the field than there were fans in the stands. No matter, though, as Alfonso Soriano had a homer and an RBI single and Randy Wells, while a bit wild at times, was able to shut the Diamondbacks down after a leadoff homer. A leadoff homer to Willie Bloomquist, I should note, which would automatically count as seven runs against the pitcher who surrendered it if I were in charge of baseball, but sadly, I am not.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Charlie Morton was arguably baseball’s worst starter last season. Last night: one run on three hits in six innings. He also walked five, but who’s counting? Oh, Major League Baseball, its member clubs, several statistics organizations and every fan who was keeping score during the game? Well, fine, but he got away with it. All of the Buccos’ runs came in the sixth via a Neil Walker double and an Andrew McCutcheon homer.

Rangers 6, Mariners 4: The Rangers remain perfect. Nelson Cruz has homered in all four games this season. If he keeps that up, man, it will be like a record or something.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.