Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Athletics 5, Rangers 4: The promise of the Athletics’ offseason: adding a bit of offense to cover the holes from last year and bolstering the bullpen to solve the team’s other big weakness. Job well done as far as this game goes, as Hideki Matsui hit a walkoff homer in the 10th after the Athletics’ bullpen shut the Rangers out on two hits over four innings to end it. Grant Balfour made it interesting in the top of the 10th, but he wiggled out of it, so we’ll call that a bug and not a feature of the New and Improved Athletics.

Red Sox 9, Angels 5: Jered Weaver proves mortal. The Angels’ ace gets his first loss of the year after Boston tags him for three runs on six hits in six innings. Which isn’t a ton, but any hope of Weaver getting a no-decision was lost when Hisanori Takahashi and Francisco Rodriguez got lit up like a pinball machine in the seventh. All of Boston’s nine runs were driven in by the 2-5 hitters, Pedroia, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Ortiz.

Nationals 2, Giants 0: Tom Gorzelanny gave up only three hits in eight innings as the Giants continue to search for a way to score runs. In fact, they’ve been shut out three times in the past six games.  As I noted yesterday, it was Military Appreciation Night. Active duty members who have to wake up early tomorrow were probably pleased, therefore, that this game took only two hours and two minutes.

Braves 6, Brewers 2: The last time the Braves met Yovani Gallardo he shut ’em out on a two-hitter. This time the Atlanta bats do a bit better, scoring five runs on nine hits — plus four walks — in five innings. Jair Jurrjens has been outstanding in all four starts he’s had this season.

Yankees 5, Tigers 3: Seven straight losses for Detroit. This one was winnable. Down 3-0, the Tigers rallied to tie it in the seventh but the Yankees clawed back with two in the ninth. One of the runs scored on an Alex Avilia passed ball. But he also had two homers. And here I thought the book on him was that he was a good defensive catcher who couldn’t hit much.

White Sox 6, Orioles 2: Two homers for Paul Konerko and a sac fly to boot on a four-RBI night. Mark Buehrle allowed twelve baserunners — eight hits and four walks — in six and two-thirds innings of work, but he did not allow a single run to score.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 5: A Gaby Sanchez grand slam in the third gave the Marlins the lead, a Lance Berkman three-run shot in the bottom of the inning took it right back for the Cards. Mike Stanton would make the difference later, however, homering in the fifth and hitting a leadoff triple in the eighth and subsequently scoring on a sac fly.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 2: Andre Ethier is now halfway to Joe DiMaggio with 28-game hit streak. That’s not going to happen, but he is only three games short of the Dodgers’ record, set by Willie Davis in 1969. James Russell is now 0-4 with a 10.05 ERA since moving to the rotation to take over for the injured Andrew Cashner. It’s almost like Carlos Silva won that job out of spring training after all.

Pirates 4, Padres 3: The Pirates beat the Padres for the first time in ten games against them.

Astros vs. Reds: POSTPONED: These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fall. This is the wonder of devotion – I see the torch we all must hold. This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must fall.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.