Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I was out of town for the second weekend in a row. This time to West Virginia to visit my mother-in-law and to breathe some mountain air. Bonus: you can pick up the Beckley, West Virginia newspaper on Sunday morning and read last Wednesday’s box scores! Reminds me of being a baseball fan back in the 80s.

Thankfully I had my phone nearby. I rarely had more than one bar because my mother-in-law lives deep in a holler, but it was just enough to keep up. But really: this is the last time I go anywhere for a while. I’m pretty sure I suffer from minor convulsions and stuff without a solid Internet connection and MLB.tv, so in my fortified — and wired — compound I shall stay.

Dodgers 3, Angels 2: The Jered Weaver vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup lived up to the hype, with each pitching fabulously. Kershaw pitched a bit more fabulously, however, and a bit longer, going the distance and striking out 11, helping the Dodgers avoid the sweep. Tony Gwynn, Jr. with the walkoff RBI single.

Blue Jays 5, Cardinals 0: The Jays sweep the Cards, taking the last one on a Ricky Romero four-hit shutout.  St. Louis has lost 12 of 15 and are 1-5 since El Hombre went down. I won’t retract my “the Cardinals can weather the loss of Pujols” rebop yet, but as a talking point, it’s officially on notice.

Brewers 6, Twins 2: In contrast, I’m feeling way more comfortable with my “I declare the Twins dead” talking point from a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota is back to its run-impaired ways, having now lost five straight, scoring a total of eight runs in those five games.

Yankees 6, Rockies 4: Ty Wigginton had two homers in a game for the second time in a week, but it was — as they say — in a losing cause. Notice no one ever talks about sucky things happening “in a losing cause?” It would be apt to say something like “Joe Schmo struck out twice and totally half-assed a grounder hit right to him in a losing cause,” but we never say that for some reason.  Oh well. On Derek Jeter’s birthday, his fill-in, Eduardo Nunez, broke the tie with a seventh inning RBI single.

Buccaneers 14, Texans 10: See, it’s funny because they’re football team names that correspond with their local baseball teams on a day on which said baseball teams scored as though they were, in fact, football teams! It’s a clever juxtaposition! Aren’t I rich? A pill, I am! A pill!

Royals 6, Cubs 3: The first six Royals reached in the first inning, helping KC to a 4-0 lead that ended up being enough to win. In other news, my son has a Cubs cap, which he asked me to get for him because it had a “C” on it (his name begins with a C too). Yesterday he went outside to play and I made him wear his cap because it was really sunny out. He said “is it OK that I have a Cubs hat even though the Cubs aren’t very good?”  He’s 5 and does not really watch baseball at all, let alone follow it, so he would have no idea about how the Cubs do unless some kid on the playground told him that the Cubs suck while he had his hat on. This is what you’re up against, Chicago. Random kids 350 miles away are slamming you to random five year-olds. You cool with this?

Red Sox 4, Pirates 2: An error-filled game by Pittsburgh helps Boston avoid the sweep. Only one of Boston’s four runs was earned, so it’s not like the Sox bats are out of their mini-slump.

Nationals 2, White Sox 1: Phil Humber had a no-hitter into the sixth, but a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa in the seventh was enough for the Nats. With this game the John McLaren era ends for Washington. He finishes with a .667 winning percentage (2-1), which will probably have him at the top of the Nats’ leader board in that department for a long, long time.

Phillies 3, Athletics 1: Roy being Roy (CG, 8 H, 1 ER). An actual Charlie Manuel quote from after the game: “He’s pretty steady.” Gee, ya think, Cholly?  Jimmy Rollins went 4 for 4 and scored twice.

Orioles 7, Reds 5: Word to your moms, Baltimore came to drop bombs: three homers yesterday, nine in the series while scoring 17 runs. The O’s take two of three from Cincy.

Tigers 8, Diamondbacks 3: Detroit wins on the day Sparky Anderson’s number was retired. Somewhere — wherever Sparky’s soul resides — he probably told someone that Don Kelly was the next Tom Brookens and that Tom Brookens should have been the next George Kell. Which, if you followed Sparky’s career, makes total sense. A seven run eighth inning sealed it for Detroit. Jhonny Peralta was 3 for 4 with two RBI.

Mets 8, Rangers 5:  Jose Reyes had four hits and scored three runs because he’s pretty much unstoppable this year. Dillon Gee rebounds from a not-so-great start to win his eighth game with six solid innings.

Padres 4, Braves 1: It’s not every day you score four runs off Johnny Venters. In fact, it’s no day until yesterday, but the Padres smacked this year’s most unhittable reliever around for four on four hits and a couple of walks to rally in the eighth inning. Damndest thing was that Venters almost got out of it with no one scoring, but the Padres plated all four runs with two outs.

Giants 3, Indians 1: Last time we saw Madison Bumgarner he was allowing the first eight Minnesota Twins hitters he faced to reach and score. This time: he struck out 11 Indians and allowed only one run in seven innings. I guess he was well-rested this time out.

Mariners 2, Marlins 1: The go-ahead run scored when Marlin’s reliever Steve Cishek threw a wild pitch with a runner on third during an intentional walk. Holy schnikes! Best part: with the reason for the intentional walk now gone, Jack McKeon had Cishek actually pitch to the batter, who had been given three of the four balls for the walk already. Cishek struck him out. I don’t approve when pitchers come back to the dugout after a tough inning, punch something and break their hand, but in this case I think that would have been an acceptable behavior for Cishek.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

Yovani Gallardo
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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.

Chipper Jones says the Mets are his pick to “go all the way”

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Chipper Jones may believe some weird things but he’s pretty savvy and clear-eyed when it comes to analyzing baseball.

Remember back in 2013 how he picked the Dodgers to beat the Braves in the NLDS? And how, because of his perceived “disloyalty,” Braves players had an immature little temper tantrum and refused to catch his ceremonial first pitch? Yeah, that was a great look. If I was more inclined to the hokey and irrational, I’d say that created “The Curse of Chipper” and that it condemned the Braves to two straight years of sucking. Hey, people have built careers on curses sillier than that.

Anyway, kudos to Chipper for apparently not giving a crap about that sort of thing and, instead, saying what he thinks about baseball. Stuff like how he thinks the Mets are going to win it all, saying “They’re really setting the bar and they’re my early-season pick to probably go all the way.”

Keeping in mind that anything can happen in baseball, it’s as good a pick as any other I reckon. Even if it means he has to say that the team who was his greatest rival during his playing career — and whom he thoroughly owned during that time — is better than the one that pays his salary now. Or any other one.