Brooks Conrad

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 4, Pirates 2: All Brooks Conrad does is hit pinch-hit game-winning homers. Well, that and play soul-killing defense and occupy a roster spot that gives his team minimal flexibility despite having a number of injuries which scream out for a super utility player who can handle both outfield and the infield corners. But hey, I’ll accept that latter stuff if it means a couple of pinch-hit game-winning homers every year!

Phillies 5, Reds 4:  So wild, crazy and long that a little blurb doesn’t do it justice, so check out our longer writeup here.  At this point, the biggest takeaway from all of this is “Hey! Someone finally found a use for Wilson Valdez!” Dude just knows how to win (1-0, 0.00 ERA).  And the best part: after a six-hour game that ended at 1:19 AM, these two teams get together today at 1:05!  Cliff Lee and Homer Bailey: be prepared to go long today.

Marlins 7, Giants 6: The loss of the game is bad but it pales compared to the loss of Buster Posey to a leg injury in the 12th inning. The play looked clean as far as those sorts of plays go, but it was awful all the same. Posey being gone for an extended period is absolutely the last thing the Giants need.

Red Sox 14, Indians 2: No team that has eveh started 2-10 has evah won teh Wurld Seriez!!!11one11!  Know why? Because most teams that start off poorly are actually bad teams. The Red Sox are a good team that just so happened to start poorly, and now they’re not playing poorly anymore.  The past, it seems, does not control the future. There is something besides destiny determining how events unfold. How liberating.

Padres 3, Cardinals 1: Mat Latos, who looked deader than vaudeville earlier this spring, turns in his best start of the year thus far, giving up one run on six hits over eight innings while striking out seven. This one just screamed getaway day: it lasted two hours and four minutes, with both Cardinals and Padres pitchers throwing a total of 105 pitches.

Brewers 6, Nationals 4: I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. Short version: Zack Greinke hit this one up yesterday afternoon.

Astros 2, Dodgers 1: J.R. Towles wins it with an RBI single in the ninth. The back of that Dodgers bullpen? Needs more Rubby.

Rangers 2, White Sox 1: C.J. Wilson was effective and Neftali Feliz bent but did not break in the ninth, giving the Rangers their third win in four games. There were no evacuations.

Mariners 3, Twins 0: And with that, the Twins’ offense becomes more firmly entrenched as the worst in the American League. They still need to be wary of a challenge from Oakland and even these Mariners, but seeing them step up strong like this yesterday gives me full confidence in their ability to be the worst. But just so we’re clear: Thome: that “reaching base twice in four plate appearances” stuff is you not being a team player, get me?

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3: Two homers for Andruw Jones in Yankee Stadium. John Smoltz gets the win. Greg McMichael, Denny Neagle, Terrell Wade and Brad Clontz combine to close it out. Tomorrow: Greg Maddux vs. Jimmy Key.

Orioles 9, Royals 2: One gets the sense that the wheels have done come off the Kansas City bandwagon. That’s nine of the last 11 in the loss column thanks to this fourth inning implosion in which Luke Hochevar gave up eight runs yet still survived it to pitch on because, you know, you go with what you know and who else is more used to giving up eight runs than Luke Hochevar?  Adam Jones had two hits and two RBI that inning.

Mets 7, Cubs 4: The Cubs had a 4-1 lead in the second when things started skidding sideways. RBI from Josh Thole and Carlos Beltran tied it up against Casey Coleman, so Mike Quade went to Jason Berg, who threw twelve consecutive balls, walking in two runs.  New York tacked on one more with a sac fly in the fifth before the rains came — well, got worse — and they called this one early. Which Mike Quade wasn’t happy about, but hey, the game was official and no one had to refund anyone any money so whose to complain? I mean, other than Quade, the Cubs players and everyone else. Dreadful weather, though.

Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 1: Ian Kennedy was once again strong, allowing one run on seven hits over eight innings. I saw some people tweeting last night about how the Dbacks stole four bases, but none of those steals led to runs so who cares?

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back homers in the fourth, and that’s about all the offense you need against this A’s team right now.

Rays vs. Tigers: POSTPONED:  It was a dark and stormy night. Oh, wait. That was daytime. Wow. Scary. I can see why they decided to scuttle this one.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.

Masahiro Tanaka throws off mound for first time since October elbow surgery

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According to the Associated Press — via Chad Jennings of The Journal News — Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka threw off a bullpen mound Tuesday for the first time since undergoing a cleanup procedure on his right elbow last October.

The throwing session took place in New York, and Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild later told the media in Tampa that all of the reports he heard were good.

Tanaka might be behind some of the Yankees’ other pitchers when spring training officially begins, but he should be ready for the start of the 2016 regular season.

The 27-year-old native of Japan posted a 3.51 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 139/27 K/BB ratio across 154 innings last season for New York. He owns a 3.16 ERA (123 ERA+) in 290 1/3 innings since becoming a major leaguer in 2014.

Tanaka is still pitching with a partially-torn ligament in his right elbow that could eventually require Tommy John reconstructive surgery. His surgery last October was of the arthroscopic variety and simply removed bone spurs.

Bud Selig to teach a class at Arizona State law school

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Before Bud Selig ultimately retired, he had a couple of false start retirement announcements only to have the owners beg him to sign on for one more term. In one of those false starts he talked about how the University of Wisconsin had set up an office for him in the history department and that he’d be doing some research and teaching a class now and again. And he has, in fact, taught some one-off seminars at Wisconsin’s law school and the like.

Now something a little more permanent along those lines is in the works for The Greatest Commissioner in Baseball History. The Arizona Republic reports that Selig will join the Sports Law and Business program at Arizona State University’s law school where he will teach and advise as well as start up a speakers series in which he will bring in high-powered guests. No word on how many speakers will talk about big, important historical sports law cases like, say collusion in baseball, which was orchestrated by an ownership class in the mid-to-late 80s, of which Bud Selig was far and away the most influential member. That could get sort of awkward, I suppose.

Either way, it’s a good way to keep busy. I mean, that’s what it has to be as he’s not hurting for cash, what with the obscene $6 million severance package the owners gave him to, I dunno, not give interviews about bad stuff that happened back in the day like Fay Vincent does all the time. Stuff like collusion. Maybe he gets the $6 million for some other purpose. Who can say, really? It’s never made any sort of sense otherwise.

Anyway, good luck in Tempe, Bud. Maybe I’ll stop by your office at ASU when I’m there next month — I always stay in Tempe — and we can chew the fat or climb that butte with the big A on it or something. First round at Four Peaks afterward is on me.

White Sox sign first baseman Travis Ishikawa

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First baseman Travis Ishikawa has agreed to a minor-league contract with the White Sox that includes an invitation to spring training.

Ishikawa was previously reported to have a minor-league deal with the Mariners last month, but the signing was never finalized. Now he joins the White Sox, who have Jose Abreu and Adam LaRoche ahead of him on the first base/designated hitter depth chart.

Ishikawa had some big moments for the Giants in the 2014 playoffs, but he’s a 32-year-old journeyman with a lifetime .255 batting average and .712 OPS in 488 games as a big leaguer.

It’s possible the White Sox could keep him around as a bench bat and backup first baseman/left fielder, but Ishikawa seems more likely to begin the season at Triple-A.