Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 5, Yankees 4: CC Sabathia was one of many pitchers who were dominant on this night — the big man shut out the Twins on two hits over seven innings — but his bullpen betrayed him. Rafael Soriano, to be specific, who loaded the bases on two walks and a single when he came in for the eighth. He was pulled after one more walk gave the Twins their first run and was replaced by Dave Robertson, who promptly allowed a bases-clearing double to Delmon Young. Mariano Rivera did his job in the ninth, but Boone Logan walked the leadoff batter in the 10th and then gave up two straight singles for the loss.  And if you think this will be brushed off as a mere bullpen blip by the New York media, know this: Soriano bailed from the clubhouse after the game before the press could talk to him. The New York media doesn’t like that:

I can’t tell you how Soriano will handle his implosion. He bolted the clubhouse before talking to reporters, leaving his teammates to answer for his mess. Nick Swisher, Dave Robertson and Boone Logan all stood by their lockers like men and took accountability for their part in the loss. Soriano can’t say the same.

Jo-no-show-Mo?

Indians 3, Red Sox 1: But hey, for as bad as it is in New York, at least they’ve won a couple of games so far. Boston — anointed by everyone as the 2011 World Series Champions — is now 0-4 after being stymied by Josh Tomlin on a cold night in a near-empty Progressive Field. Tomlin gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. Terry Francona after the game: “It’s not a lot of fun, but I don’t think anyone is going to feel sorry for us.”  That’s for damn sure. Indeed, I think we’re one more loss before the Soxenfreude reaches maximum levels.

Mets 7, Phillies 1: Cole Hamels didn’t last long, allowing six runs on seven hits in two and two-thirds, including two hits to Mets pitcher Chris Young in a single inning. He then left the game to a chorus of boos from baseball’s allegedly most loyal fans. Which I’m sure will be explained away by my Phillies commenters as “passion” or some such. Which it may be, but it seems that the “loyal” and the “passionate” titles are often at odds.

Brewers 1, Braves 0: Yovani Gallardo was rough stuff, allowing only two hits — one in the first inning, one in the eighth — while shutting out the Braves on a mere 111 pitches. The Braves were less overpowered than completely and utterly flummoxed, seemingly unable to get anything approaching good wood on Gallardo’s stuff. Derek Lowe was nearly as good for the Braves, but with the way Gallardo was going, he could have shut ’em out for another two or three innings if he had to.

Rangers 3, Mariners 2: Alexi Ogando didn’t figure he’d be starting this year, but he took the ball in this one and pitched six scoreless innings while allowing only two hits. For Seattle, Michael Pineada acquitted himself well enough in his first major league start. I mean, he at least kept the Rangers from hitting any homers and that’s better than Boston could do.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 0: Jhoulys Chacin was sharp, shutting out the Dodgers on five hits over seven innings before turning it over to the bullpen. Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Ianetta homers did most of the damage for Colorado, who accomplished no mean feat in beting Clayton Kershaw.

Cardinals 3, Pirates 2: A couple of RBI for the Cardinals as they beat the Pirates. As usual, it was Regis’ fault.

Padres 3, Giants 1: The champs are reeling like Rocky Balboa in the first Clubber Lang fight. Aaron Harang did exactly what he hoped he’d do upon coming to Petco Park: pitching confidently in a pitcher-friendly environment, knowing that all of the fly balls he’s prone to allowing won’t fly over the fence like they did in Cincinnati. He allowed only one run on six hits, struck out six and walked two.

Angels 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is keeping Boston company at the bottom of the AL East, remaining winless after Jered Weaver gave them nothing through six and two-thirds. For the Angels, Jordan Walden’s debut as closer was exactly what Mike Scioscia wanted: he set the Rays down in order for the save. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are now a combined 2 for 27 on the young season.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 6: Yunel Escobar provided the heroics with a two-run homer in the tenth, but the Athletics’ porous defense continued to be a problem for the men in green, as they blew an early 5-0 lead. Oakland has nine errors in its first four games, and this was a team that was supposed to have a pretty decent defense. Well, Kevin Kouzmanoff is a weak link and his miscues were central to the Jays’ four-run sixth inning, so let’s just forget I said anything.

Royals 7, White Sox 6: As usual, Melky Cabrera was the offensive hero. He was 3 for 6 with 3 RBI, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 12th. But screw Melky, the real heroics came from the Royals’ bullpen once again: six innings of shutout ball.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2: The Feesh win it with a Donnie Murphy bases-loaded single in the 10th. The runner who scored — All-Star Omar Infante — reached base when Jayson Werth dropped a pop fly in right.  The Marlins had a bunch of chances to put it away before then, but until Murphy’s hit they were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. So, no, it wasn’t an altogether pretty night of baseball in Miami.

Reds 8, Astros 2: The Reds keep rolling, extending their record to 4-0, which is their best start since the wire-to-wire Reds of 1990 began the year winning their first eight. This one was just about over as soon as it began, when J.A. Happ walked the ballpark. His actual quote after the game: “They definitely took some quality pitches.” Yeah, well, that’s just your opinion, man.

Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 5: There are still dead-enders who think pitcher wins matter. They never explain how games like this fit into the calculus. Cubs reliever James Russell came into a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. He struck out Russell Branyan and then gave up a two-run single to Willie Bloomquist of all people, blowing the Cubs’ lead. Chicago took the lead back in the bottom of the inning, however, and Mike Quade sent Russell out for the eighth allowing him to vulture the win. James Russell just knows how to win, baby!

Reds prospect Juan Duran suspended 80 games

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Juan Duran, a minor-league outfielder in the Reds’ farm system, has been suspended 80 games following positive tests for the performance-enhancing drugs Drostanolone, Stanozolol, and Nandrolone.

Duran is 6-foot-7 with big-time power, averaging 23 homers per 150 games since 2011, but he also strikes out a ton and struggles to control the strike zone. He spent last season at Double-A, missing a lot of time with injuries and hitting .256 with six homers and a .728 OPS in 59 games as a 23-year-old.

Duran is on the 40-man roster and is considered a quasi-prospect, but he’ll be ineligible to play until July and figures to head back to Double-A once reinstated.

The Blue Jays will talk long term deals with Jose Bautistia and Edwin Encarnacion

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Ever since Alex Anthopoulos resigned as Blue Jays’ GM and Mark Shapiro took over as team president, a distinct air of frugality has set in over Rogers Centre. The go-for-broke attitude that fueled Toronto’s fantastic second half last year was repudiated and long-term, sustainable building has seemed to be the order of the day.

But the Jays aren’t going to go crazy with that: ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that the Blue Jays plan to have long-term extension talks with the agents of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion during spring training. This, combined with the still-remaining possibility that they can avoid arbitration with MVP Josh Donaldson and hammer out a long-term deal could mean some serious spending by the Jays before Opening Day.

Or this could just be talk from the front office designed to buoy the spirits of fans. Locking up all three of them to long-term deals may be hella expensive and may not be possible. It’s also the case that, given their ages — Bautista is 35 and Encarnacion is 33 — it may not be advisable to lock the both up. As always, it depends on the terms and how generous Rogers Communications plans on being with the Jays’ budget.

But the chatter is now out there and expectations are poised to be set.

The Rays are REALLY ready to get to work on that new ballpark

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Last month St. Petersburg and the Tampa Bay Rays reached an agreement that would allow the Rays to seek a new ballpark outside of the St. Pete city limits, anywhere in the Bay Area. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports today that the Rays have submitted a required report to that end which “describes how they plan to evaluate potential ballpark sites across the Tampa Bay area” and serves as a rough outline of the sort of facility they’re looking to build.

They submitted it 39 days before deadline. Ya think they’re eager to get moving?

As for the specifics, it sounds like they’re shooting for a Braves or Cardinals style destination place with surrounding entertainment, retail and the like. The Braves are achieving that by basically building the park at a mall and plan to surround it with other mall/entertainment district-type development. The Cardinals built a downtown park, but have developed Ballpark Village after the fact. This is to be contrasted with downtown parks which either counted on existing city businesses or spurred separate development.

All of which makes sense given that there isn’t one dominant location in Tampa which all but demands development there. Tampa has a few different areas that might make sense and the place is generally more spread out than older cities. It also makes sense for the Rays’ owners who are likely well aware that being in the real estate business is just as good for them as being in the baseball business.

Will anyone EVER break that record that was broken nine years ago?

Hank Aaron
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In 2007, Barry Bonds hit his 756th home run. He would go on to hit six more, finishing his career with 762. That was nine years ago and, at present, the active home run leader is nearly 80 homers behind him and no sure bet to come close. The next closest guy is over 200 homers back and clearly entering a period of decline.

All of which raises the question: will anyone EVER pass the home run total of Hank Aaron, who is in second place on that list?

Maybe you think that’s not really a pertinent question. We tend not to ask whether people who do not, by any objective measure, hold a record will have their records surpassed. But you’d be wrong. Why, just today, on Hank Aaron’s 82nd birthday, at least two journalists speculated whether anyone would ever become the all-time second place home run king:

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That’s from Cliff Corcoran at Sports Illustrated. As always, it’s excellent work from Cliff. Right up there with his seminal “will anyone ever catch Lou Brock in stolen bases?” and “who can catch Trevor Hoffman in career saves?” pieces.

Then there’s Dave O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, who approves of the question posed and has his own response:

You can imagine how those tweets were received by those parts of Twitter who are all about PED apologia, math, objective standards, noting that Aaron admitted that he took a PED that would have him banned today too and stuff like that. As always, these things get ugly.

Not that they have to be. It’s almost as if, if one were to try, one could celebrate the amazing inner-circle Hall of Fame career of Hank Aaron, full as it is with nearly unsurpassed accomplishment, without applying a revisionist gloss to the one accomplishment that, according to all objective measures and the accounting of Major League Baseball, has been surpassed. That one could talk about Aaron without slagging on Bonds.