Asdrubal Cabrera

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 12, Reds 4: Asdrubal Cabrera hit two homers and went 5 for 5 with 5 RBI, but he wasn’t alone as the Indians complete the sweep of the Reds. This series is called “The Ohio Cup,” by the way. Little known fact: loser of the Ohio Cup has to stay in Ohio.

Rays 4, Marlins 0: James Shields has had a fantastic first couple of months of the season, and this was his most fantastic start yet: A three-hit, 13-strikeout shutout. Adherents of the game score stat will note that this performance — a 93 — is the top game score in 2011 thus far.

Orioles 2, Nationals 1: Vlad Guerrero’s two-run homer holds up. Here is what he said after the game: “I was looking for a good pitch to hit and just to make contact, and not for a home run.”  Which, if true, marks the first time in his sixteen-year major league career that he either (a) looked for good pitch; or (b) wasn’t trying to absolutely murder the baseball, God love him.

Cardinals 9, Royals 8: St. Louis walked 13 times — 13 times! — five of which went to Colby Rasmus. The Royals, in contrast, walked once. You wouldn’t think, based on that stat alone, that this could have been a close one, let alone an extra inning affair, but it was. And the Cardinals’ go-ahead and insurance runs came in fittingly in the 10th: walk-error-HBP-walk-walk. Glad I didn’t see this one. Sounds like the kind of game that would make you want to gouge your eyes out. But hey, at least it was over four hours long.

Angels 4, Braves 1: Anaheim gets back to .500 behind seven innings of one-run ball from Tyler Chatwood. As for the Braves, the fact that Joe Mather was the offensive hero of the weekend — and looks to be the only offensive hope for the foreseeable future given the injuries and Ugglaness of the rest of the offense — tells you everything you need to know about how they’re doin’ right now.

White Sox 8, Dodgers 3: Alexei Ramirez was 4 for 5 with 5 RBI.  Which is normally gonna win you the Offensive Shortstop of the Day Award, brought to you by Pacific Life Insurance, but it wasn’t quite as good as Asdrubal Cabrera’s day.

Mariners 6, Padres 1: King Felix struck out 13 and gave up but a single run in eight innings. The Mariners absolutely destroyed San Diego in this series. The Padres scored a single earned run the entire weekend. And it’s not just the Padres’ impotence making the Mariners look good. As Geoff Baker wrote yesterday, the Mariners have had nine straight outings of at least seven innings pitched and two runs or fewer allowed by their starting pitchers. No team has done that since the Giants did it in 1988.

Astros 3, Blue Jays 2: Here’s something you wouldn’t expect:

Even though the Astros had never played in Toronto before, Pence found himself the target of fans in the right-field seats. “I’ve never had it like that,” Pence said. “I just thought that’s how Canadians might be. They like to heckle … They actually got louder. That’s when you know you’re doing good. The louder they get, the better you’re doing.”

In his experience with leather-lunged fans, Pence said only those in the Wrigley Field bleachers compare to Toronto’s taunters. “It’s similar to Wrigley, but in Wrigley there’s so many yelling, it’s almost like you can’t totally pick them out,” Pence said. “These guys had a knack for being loud alone, or all chanting together. It was pretty aggressive.”

Not sure what’s more unusual: rude Canadians or Hunter Pence being the singular object of anyone’s derision.

Yankees 9, Mets 3: It may have changed since then, but as of 9PM last night, the sub-headline to the New York Daily News’ story about this game read “For six innings, the Yankees were the Yankees, plagued by their typical run-producing problems …”  Of course, going into this game the Yankees lead all of baseball in scoring, at a clip of 5.14 runs a game, so I guess “run producing” means something different than “producing runs.” And yes, I realize that there are people who think this team is too home run dependent — because home runs are totally something you never want — but the small-ball giddiness I’m reading in the game stories for this one due to the fact that A-Rod hit some 55-foot dribbler to spark a rally is too much. You know who hit a lot of homers? The 2009 Yankees did. They only won the damn World Series.

Diamondbacks 3, Twins 2: I know some Twins fans who laughed when division rival Chicago gave up Daniel Hudson in that trade for Edwin Jackson last summer. Damn poetic justice (Hudson: 8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER). Hey look: Arizona is at .500. And only one game behind the Rockies for second place in the NL West. Speaking of Colorado …

Brewers 3, Rockies 1: They get swept by Milwaukee. This was a toughie, as Jimenez pitched a complete game and only ran in to trouble in one inning — the third — when a walk, a HBP and a triple on which Ryan Braun was able to score by virtue of a throwing error gave the Brewers all of their runs.

Giants 5, Athletics 4: Five straight losses for Oakland. Twelve pitchers were used in this game. Nate Schierholtz hit a two-run pinch-hit homer in the eighth to tie it up.

Tigers 2, Pirates 0: Rick Porcello’s eight innings of one-hit ball give the Tigers their first win in eight days.

Rangers 2, Phillies 0: Matt Harrison helps the Rays avert a sweep. All the Phillies can say is thank God for that pitching staff, because it’s not often that you’ll see a team score five runs in a three-game series and take two of three.

Red Sox 5, Cubs 1: This was the first time Tim Wakefield faced the Cubs since 1918. Or maybe I read that little series preview wrong. I dunno. Sounds sensible enough. The knuckler was dancing last night, as Wakefield pitched into the seventh allowing one run on four hits. Adrian Gonzalez went 4 for 4 and is pretty much fulfilling all of those “Adrian Gonzaelz will totally hit in Fenway Park” predictions.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.

Michael Brantley’s timetable off shoulder surgery is “hazy”

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Paul Hoynes at the Cleveland Plain Dealer has an in-depth look at how the Indians will manage their outfield during the early part of the 2016 season, in the absence of star Michael Brantley.

Brantley underwent labrum surgery on his right shoulder this past November and has not picked up a bat all winter. “In the off-season people know I love to hit,” Brantley acknowledged to Hoynes late last week. ”I hit a lot. It’s just been a change in my timetable.”

Hoynes says the projected date for Brantley’s 2016 debut is “hazy,” guessing that it might happen around late April or early May if everything continues to go smoothly. Shoulders can be tricky, for hitters and pitchers.

Rajai Davis, Abraham Almonte, and Lonnie Chisenhall figure to make up Cleveland’s primary starting outfield while Brantley is finishing his rehabilitation. Collin Cowgill and Joey Butler could also be in the mix. It’s a lacking group, tasked with replacing one of the most productive players in baseball.

Brantley, 28, has slashed .319/.382/.494 over the last two seasons, tallying 35 home runs, 90 doubles, 181 RBI, and 38 stolen bases in 293 games.

Could the talented Tribe be in for another slow start?

Shouldn’t this club be spending more money?