St Louis Cardinals v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Cardinals 1: Wow. 0-0 game through eight. The Cardinals plate one in the top of the ninth inning. Andre Either leads off the bottom of the ninth with a double off Trever Miller, and Tony La Russa brings in Ryan Franklin to lock it down. First base open. The shakiest closer in baseball on the hill. The most dangerous bat in Los Angeles — Matt Kemp — at the plate.  Vin Scully said it best when Kemp hit the game-winning homer: “They pitch to the one guy who could beat them, and he does!” You may hate it if you’re a Cards fan, but there is nothing better than a Scully call on a dramatic game-ender from an electric player on his way back to elite form. Mercy, this is what it’s all about, people.

Indians 4, Orioles 2: Welcome back, Grady Sizemore. In his first major league action since last summer, Sizemore goes 2 for 4 with a homer and a double, helping the Indians to the sweep of the previously-frisky Orioles and their 11th win in the past 13 games. They now go to Kansas City to face the Royals, who are themselves playing some fine baseball.  Who knows how long it will last? Who cares? There are some great baseball fans in Cleveland and KC, and they friggin’ deserve this.

Mariners 3, Royals 2: The M’s cool off the streaking Royals. Literally streaking: Kila Ka’aihue ran naked from the Arrowhead Stadium ticket window all the way across the parking lot to the Kauffman Stadium players’ entrance before the game. He did it on a bet with Alex Gordon, who now owes Ka’aihue lunch at Arby’s for the next week.  Don’t go trying to confirm this in any newspaper reports, though, because the media is just a tool of The Man and they don’t want you to know about such things.

Pirates 7, Reds 6: Edinson Volquez, once again, blew up in the first inning, allowing four runs to the Buccos. They should have him pitch a simulated inning down in the pen before the game actually starts. Jay Bruce came into the game hitting .224/.278/.327, but went 4 for 5 with a homer and 2 RBI.

Mets 3, Braves 2:  The Braves had the bases loaded, a run in and no one out in the second inning and failed to score another run following a pop to short and then one of the more ill-advised squeeze plays I’ve ever seen. It resulted in a double play, with Tommy Hanson striking out and Eric Hinske getting nailed at the plate. What on God’s green earth was Fredi Gonzalez thinking? But hey, at least it wasn’t a close game or anything. Grrr. The Mets snap a seven-game losing streak.

Twins 4, Rays 2: Minnesota snaps a four-game losing streak. And they did it with the following lineup: Tolbert, Casilla, Kubel, Thome, Young, Cuddyer, Valencia, Holm and Repko. I’m pretty sure that at least three of those names were from the made-up players in Accolade’s “Hardball Baseball” for the Commodore 64. Holm batted right behind Moose Lorenzen for the All-Stars I believe. Anyway, here’s hoping this win doesn’t give Ron Gardenhire any ideas about “playing the hot hand” or anything.

Yankees 6, Rangers 5: Adrian Beltre was a one-man wrecking crew for Texas (3 for 4, HR, 2B, 4 RBI), but the Yankees had more men. Homers from Granderson, Cano and Martin and then a string of hits off Arthur Rhodes in the eighth capped off by an Eric Chavez RBI single. Rangers’ first base coach Gary Pettis was ejected in this one. You don’t see that very often.

Nationals 8, Brewers 4; Nationals 5, Brewers 1:  The Nats sweep the double header. In the first game twin three-run jacks for Danny Espinosa and Ivan Rodriguez helped the offense explode for its biggest day of the year so far, against Yovani Gallardo no less. Because of two rainouts Gallardo had a week between starts, so he may have been rusty. Livan Hernandez took care of business in the nightcap. Well, the afternoon-cap. One run and six hits allowed over seven innings for Livan. Espinosa starred again with a bases-loaded triple in the seventh, breaking the 1-1 tie.

Phillies 3, Marlins 2: Two of the Phillies’ three runs were aided by Marlins blunders, with both Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard making it to third base after errors and then scoring on a single and a sac fly, respectively.

Angels 4, White Sox 2: And the sweep. Dan Haren goes to 4-0. The Angels are the hottest team in baseball. Bright side for Sox fans: the bullpen didn’t blow one game in this series! Not that they ever had a lead to blow.

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 1: A nice outing from Jon Lester and big hits from Jacoby Ellsbury and Jarrod Saltalamacchia give the Red Sox back-to-back wins for the first time this year. Tomorrow the Japanese pitcher faces the Canadian baseball team on Patriot’s Day.

Padres 8, Astros 6: The Padres trailed 6-4 entering the 8th inning before putting up four on the back of some walks and some singles. A series split.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 5: The Dbacks end the Giants’ four-game winning streak. Stephen Drew had 3 RBI, including the game-winner on a single in the 12th.

Rockies 9, Cubs 5: Nine runs for the Rockies and not one of them were scored by or driven in by Troy Tulowitzki. Carlos Gonzalez certainly got his whacks in — 4 for 5 with a double and a couple of RBI — but this is no longer a two-man show in Colorado.

Athletics 5, Tigers 1: A dominant performance by Trevor Cahill salvages a split with Detroit. Cahill struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone in eight innings. Seeing Cahill’s strikeout rate jump like it has  is one of the cooler things that has happened in baseball so far this year.

Marlins still searching for starting pitching depth

Aaron Harang
AP Photo/Matt Slocum
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The Marlins would like to add “another pitcher or two” before pitchers and catchers report to Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, Florida, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro writes. Among starting pitchers available, Kyle Lohse, Aaron Harang, and Alfredo Simon are candidates for the Marlins, but they may hold out for the possibility of inking a major league contract. Tim Lincecum and Cliff Lee are other potential candidates, per Frisaro.

This offseason, the Marlins signed Wei-Yin Chen to a five-year, $80 million deal and Edwin Jackson for the major league minimum. The back of the rotation, though, is still a question mark as Jarred Cosart, Adam Conley, and Justin Nicolino will compete with Jackson for two spots. David Phelps is dealing with an elbow injury and may or not be ready by Opening Day, but he could function in a swingman capacity as well.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.