Travis Hafner

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights


Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: Carlos Villanueva threw six shutout innings. Too bad he couldn’t stay in to throw more, because the Indians rallied like crazy in the ninth with an Asdrubal Cabrera RBI single and then the big shot: the Travis Hafner walkoff grand slam. That’s some serious dramatics right there, babies. Almost enough to make me feel OK to call him “Pronk” again, which seemed kind of ridiculous when he was in the middle of three blah years.

Cubs 10, Nationals 9: Facepalm. actually, make that a double facepalm. The Nats had an 8-0 lead heading into the sixth inning and they couldn’t seal the deal. Livan Hernandez deserves most of the blame here. Or maybe Davey Johnson. Dude just ran out of gas. Probably shoulda been pulled when the Cubs started doing a conga line around the bases in the sixth. This is one of those games that those of you who want to say that the Nats could be frisky have to deal with, because frisky teams don’t lose like this very often.

Rays 5, Yankees 1: Bartolo Colon didn’t have nothin’ (5.2 IP, 10 H, 5 ER), so the competitive part of this game ended early, leaving everyone to focus on Derek Jeter’s at bats. He got one hit, so he needs two more.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 4: One of the least fun thing about following games on Twitter: when fans of a team (in this case the Yankees), voice their displeasure at team in a totally different game (in this case the Orioles) for allegedly laying down against the the team (in this case the Red Sox) who is in a race against the team for which they root (back to the Yankees).  I mean, until we see money changing hands between the Red Sox and Orioles, we have to assume that this is simply a matter of Baltimore sucking every time they visit Fenway Park, not some underhanded scheme.

Braves 6, Rockies 3: Freddie Freeman continues his rampage, hitting a three-run homer in the third inning that put the Braves up for good. The Braves themselves are on a rampage, winners of nine of their last ten. Now it’s three against the Phillies — whom they trail by two and a half games — to take them into the All-Star break.

Marlins 5, Astros 0: Brad Hand — who I know damn well is gonna make me break out “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” quotes at some point this season even though that’s a totally hack thing to do — shut out the Astros for seven innings on two hits.

Twins 6, White Sox 2: Phil Humber was rocked like a hurricane. And to be clear: that’s bad when the Scorpions aren’t involved. Joe Mauer played first base and went 3 for 5 with two RBI. Hurm.

Tigers 3, Royals 1: Remember those games where Max Scherzer used to strike out, like, eleventeen guys? Well, this wasn’t one of those games — he only k’d two — but ’twas enough. “Twill serve. Homers for Ryan Raburn and Don Kelly, each of whom sound more like characters on “Mad Men” than baseball players.

Brewers 5, Reds 4: Rickie Weeks was 2 for 3 with a three-run homer. Zack Cozart was 1 for 3 with a run scored in his major league debut.

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 1: Arizona has won four of six. St. Louis has lost four of six. Justin Upton hit a big home run.

Rangers 6, Athletics 0: In light of what went down, I really don’t feel like riffing on this game at the moment.

Now we get to the late west coast games where, every night it seems, someone is throwing a complete game or shutting someone out for seven or eight innings or whatever. Viva la pitching.

Giants 2, Padres 1: All Barry Zito does is win baseball games.  Well, at least since he came back from the DL. Eight innings of four-hit ball.

Angels 5, Mariners 1: Jered Weaver tosses a complete game to win his 11th. Now he probably starts the All-Star Game on Tuesday. The offense he faces there will be slightly better than the bunch from Seattle.

Dodgers 6, Mets 0: Clayton Kershaw flummoxed the Mets for eight innings, shutting them out on five hits and striking out nine. The Dodgers made the most of their seven hits and two walks.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.

Pirates sign outfielder/first baseman Jake Goebbert

Jake Goebbert

The best thing about minor Thanksgiving week transactions is that they are almost certainly done by GMs frantically looking for some work to do rather than go pick up their in-laws at the airport. I mean, sure, the player in question could very easily be an important player who fills a key role in the organization, but it’s not like it couldn’t have waited until Monday, right? This is the GM equivalent of you pretending you have to run into the office on Wednesday afternoon and, in reality, driving around in your car, listening to Neil Young and promising that NEXT YEAR you’re just doing a small Thanksgiving dinner with no family and, maybe, might even go on a little trip, just you and the wife.

Or is that just me? OK, maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, that’s how I’m choosing to view the Pirates activity today. First they traded for Allen Webster and now they’re signing minor league free agent first baseman/outfielder Jake Goebbert, according to Adam Berry of

Goebbert, 28, hit .294 with an .844 OPS and 10 homers for Triple-A El Paso last season. He has 115 plate appearances in the bigs, all for San Diego in 2014. Overall he has a line of .282/.386/.465 with 30 homers in 997 Triple-A plate appearances in the Astros, Athletics and Padres organizations.

Not a bad depth move, especially given that the Pirates are looking to trade Pedro Alvarez and otherwise re-jigger their first base situation.