Josh Johnson

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 5, Braves 1: Josh Johnson takes a no-hitter into the eighth before Freddie Freeman breaks it up with a double. Probably for the best. Johnson was at 109 pitches. If he keeps the no-no up all the way his pitch count is getting a bit nutty. Chipper Jones’ otherwise meaningless home run in the ninth gave him his 1,500th career RBI. Nine more and he ties Mickey Mantle. If he stays reasonably healthy this year he could get up to Al Kaline/Harmon Killebrew/Rogers Hornsby territory.

Phillies 3, Nationals 2: Roy Halladay had a two-hit shutout into the ninth when things started to get a bit shaky, but I don’t think anyone ever doubted that he’d finish the job. Indeed, I had this game on when Cholly visited the mound in the ninth. His gait was quick. It seemed clear that it was only a courtesy call. Of all of the 3-2 games you’ll see, this one felt the least close.

Tigers 3, Rangers 2: [Ron Washington shows the visiting conigliere around his estate]: “Feliz … Feliz.  I’m not gonna pitch him, though. I’m gonna put him out to stud.  Thanks Tony. Let’s get something to eat, huh?”

Cubs 9, Astros 5: I neglected to mention it in yesterday’s recap, but I’m pretty sure a big part of Tuesday night’s loss was attributable to Mike Quade’s displeasure at having to miss the Rush concert at the United Center in Chicago that night. That kind of thing can throw a guy. At least a guy who continues to be a big Rush fan into his 50s. Unable to really relax, knowing he missed a sweet show, Quade could do nothing Tuesday night except lie awake, staring out at the bleakness of Megadon.  But, with Rush safely in Toledo last night — not that I, um, know that or anything — Quade could relax and the Cubs could too, teeing off on Wandy Rodriguez and racking up 14 total hits.

Athletics 7, White Sox 4: “Dear Bobby J. I’m sorry for all of the things I said about you last year. My son is sorry too.  Fact is, we never realized we had it so good. The team needs you. The bullpen needs you. Bobby: I need you. Please come back. I can’t bear to see us blow games late again like this anymore. It’ll be the death of me. Sincerely, Ozzie.”

Rockies 5, Mets 4: The Rockies continue to go nuts, as does Troy Tulowitzki, who hit a three-run homer in the fifth to put the Rockies up for good. At the time, there were two outs, first base was open, there were runners on second and third and Jose Lopez was on deck. Don’t you walk Tulowitzki there?

Brewers 6, Pirates 0: This is why the Brewers got Shawn Marcum, who shut the Pirates out on four hits over seven innings. Three-run homer from Prince Fielder, who is absolutely tearing it up right now. Potentially sacrilegious question: is Fielder a more attractive free agent first baseman than Albert Pujols next winter?

Yankees 7, Orioles 4: A.J. Burnett wasn’t dominant, but he won his third game. Chris Tillman got destroyed, thanks in part to a three-run A-Rod homer and a two-run Robbie Cano double in the second. The second inning could have gotten even more out of hand if Adam Jones doesn’t make this sick grab on a bases loaded bloop from Jorge Posada.

Angels 4, Indians 2: Anaheim takes the second in a row from Cleveland, winning it on a Jeff Mathis sac fly in the 12th inning. After a rocky start to the year, the Angels bullpen has stepped up,  having not given up an earned run in their last 22 innings.

Padres 3, Reds 2: The Reds’ bullpen was not so sublime. They coughed up the lead in the eighth and the game in the ninth, with a nice assist from some bad defense. The Padres salvage one after a couple of tough losses.

Blue Jays 8, Mariners 3:  The Jays exploded for six in the eighth inning, with the big shot being a Jose Bautista three-run homer. Another record-low crowd for Seattle, though according to the game story a decent portion of it consisted of Jays fans who came down from British Columbia. Earlier this week someone mentioned in the comments that they went to college in B.C. or something and that going to Jays games in Seattle was a rite of passage. All of which leads me to ask if anyone in the M’s or Jays’ fan base — fan bases with which I have the least experience out of almost anyone — thinks of the teams as rivals by virtue of them being 1977 expansion partners.  These are the kinds of things I sit and wonder when the cable goes out.

Royals 10, Twins 5: It’s a lot of fun to blame Ron Gardenhire for telling Francisco Liriano to “pitch to contact,” but ultimately Liriano has to pitch, and he’s simply not doing it right now. Liriano was shelled by Kansas City for seven runs in five innings. He was beat so bad that Kyle Davies got the win despite allowing five runs on ten hits in five innings of his own.  I guess Davies just knows how to win.

Cardinals 15, Diamondbacks 5:  It was 12-0 by the middle of the fourth inning. Lance Berkman had a grand slam and another RBI on a groundout. He now has four homers in the past three games. Every Cardinal starter except Matt Holliday had a hit, which has to make a guy in Holliday’s position really, really frustrated, even if he can’t say anything about it.

Giants 4, Dodgers 3:  The Giants take two of three from L.A.. Buster Posey had a stolen base. The AP story puts it thusly:

After Posey went to first in the third inning, he stole his first career base. He had one steal during last year’s playoffs but it doesn’t count toward his official statistics.

And the one he stole in the postseason shouldn’t have counted because POSEY WAS FREAKING OUT.

Not that I’m hung up on that or anything.

Rays vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED: Although I shelter from the rain under a broken tree, My chair was nearest to the fire In every company that talked of love or politics, Ere Time transfigured me.

Report: Blue Jays and Josh Donaldson agree to two-year, $29 million extension

Toronto Blue Jays' Josh Donaldson celebrates his two run home run against the Kansas City Royals during the third inning in Game 3 of baseball's American League Championship Series on Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Toronto. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
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The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.

Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. They were able to get it done in this case. Donaldson was a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.

The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.

Giants and Brandon Belt have an arbitration hearing scheduled for Wednesday

San Francisco Giants'  Brandon Belt reacts after being called out on strikes by home plate umpire Jim Joyce to end the top of the first inning against the Colorado Rockies in a baseball game Friday, Sept.. 4, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.

Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.

Padres sign veteran utility player Skip Schumaker

Cincinnati Reds' Skip Schumaker is tagged out at home plate by San Francisco Giants' Buster Posey during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2015, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)
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The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.

While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.

Report: MLB, union making progress on new slide rule at second base

New York Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada falls after a slide by Los Angeles Dodgers' Chase Utley during the seventh inning of an NL Division Series baseball game Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015, in Los Angeles. (John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP)
John McCoy/Los Angeles Daily News via AP
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After Ruben Tejada suffered a fractured right fibula on a takeout slide from Chase Utley during the playoffs, there was momentum for a new rule about slides at second base. We haven’t heard much about it since the Owners’ Meetings in November, but ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that talks between MLB and the players’ union are making progress and a change is expected for the 2016 season.

The exact wording of the new rule is still unclear, but Olney hears that there’s a focus toward “ensuring that sliding runners either touch the base or make an effort to touch the base.” Below are some more details:

Sources said that in the union’s internal discussions, players made it clear they had been taught since they first began playing baseball to go into second base with the intent of breaking up double-play attempts. Although the union wants to improve safety for middle infielders, it does not want to eliminate players’ aggressiveness on slides or the ability to break up a double play.

However, there is a desire on both sides to eliminate slides on which a baserunner goes beyond the effort to reach second to make contact with middle infielders.

There’s already a rule in place for a situation like we saw with Utley, but it’s rarely, if ever, enforced. It’s unfortunate that Tejada’s fractured fibula had to be the catalyst for change or clarification with the rules, but hopefully this will result in fewer injuries in the future. Similar to the “Buster Posey Rule” for plays at home plate, get ready for life with the “Chase Utley Rule.”

Here’s the video of the Tejada/Utley play:

And here’s the video of another high-profile play from 2015 which resulted in a torn lateral meniscus and a fractured tibia for Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang: