Javier Vazquez wows with seven shutout innings vs. Rays

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The Marlins signed veteran right-hander Javier Vazquez to a one-year, $7 million contract this winter, hoping that he might be able to return to form back in the National League.

Vazquez posted a frightening 5.32 ERA and 1.40 WHIP last season for the Yankees, but he earned NL Cy Young Award votes in 2009 with a dominant campaign in Atlanta and the Marlins believed that the 34-year-old had some of that magic left.

The experiment got off to a disastrous start this year as Vazquez registered a 7.55 ERA over his first eight outings, but a glimmer of hope arrived Saturday afternoon in the form of a seven-inning shutout against the cross-state Rays. The Puerto Rico native struck out seven Tampa Bay batters and issued just two walks while surrendering only three hits.

It was only Vazquez’s second quality start of 2011 and the seven strikeouts were a season-high. The Marlins, who just lost Josh Johnson to the disabled list, will hope for more of the same from Javy next week.

Video: Jaime Garcia hits a 399-foot grand slam

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Jaime Garcia has been at the center of trade talks for several days now, but on Friday night, he commanded center stage for an entirely different reason. The Braves’ southpaw went head-to-head with Dodgers’ lefty Alex Wood and mashed his first career grand slam: a two-out, 399-foot blast that cleared the wall in right field and put the Braves up 9-0 in the fifth inning.

The bases-loaded knock was the third career home run for Garcia, whose contributions at the plate have been few and far between over his nine-year track in the major leagues. Not only did the homer mark an impressive career first for the 30-year-old, but it was just the second pitcher grand slam in Braves’ history and the first since 1966.

Garcia looked almost as impressive on the mound during Friday’s series opener, issuing one run, four hits and three strikeouts through his first six innings. The Braves currently lead the Dodgers 12-1 in the top of the seventh inning.

As for whether the slam will affect negotiations between the Braves and Twins? MLB.com’s Mike Petriello put it best:

Ryon Healy exits game after taking a ground ball to the face

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Athletics’ first baseman Ryon Healy had a scary moment during Friday’s loss to the Mets. Lucas Duda smacked a single to the first base side, where the ball took a high hop and caught Healy in the left temple. He crumpled to the ground after getting struck by the one-hopper, but was eventually able to stand and walk off the field with assistance from a trainer.

Prior to the injury, Healy went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI single in the first inning. He was replaced by Yonder Alonso, who finished off the rest of the night’s 7-5 loss with a walk in two plate appearances.

Following the game, manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Healy did not appear to have sustained a concussion as a result of the hit. Healy said he thinks he’ll be good to go for Saturday’s game, though a final decision likely won’t be made until tomorrow.