And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 9, Yankees 5: I was watching this game until Curt Schilling and Nomar Garciaparra started talking about intangibles and how so-and-so has them “off the charts.” Which, given that they’re INTANGIBLE, what freaking chart could possibly measure them?  And another thing: Schilling talked about the game changing, saying that Dustin Pedroia never would have been drafter 15, 25 years ago. Of course he wouldn’t have! Baseball teams HATED good players back then and they never, ever, ever drafted short middle infielders. They were all talent-free giants! That was the style at the time! So yeah, this is why I didn’t watch the rest of the game. Rage issues. Sorry. Red Sox won. Whoop-dee-doo.

Rays 4, Rangers 1: Joe Maddon didn’t let James Shields get the complete game — he was at 110 pitches after eight — but I got this feeling that he coulda pulled it off. Fantastic season for Shields.

Giants 4, Cubs 0: I guess the Giants will always have enough offense if their pitchers shut out the other team. Madison Bumgarner allowed two hits and struck out 11 in eight innings.

Twins 7, White Sox 6: “All it takes is one bad inning to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad inning. You had a bad inning once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad inning and everything changed.” — Jake Peavy.

Indians 4, Athletics 3: Jack Hannahan hit an RBI single with one out in the 16th inning to win it. Cleveland is back in second place, having won three in a row.

Dodgers 4, Padres 2: A two-run homer for Rod Barajas helps the Dodgers to their eighth win in nine games. Insane: the Dodgers could theoretically finish at .500. Didn’t see that coming a couple of months ago.

Tigers 5, Royals 4: A three-run eighth inning brought the Tigers back from behind. Austin Jackson went 4 for 4 and scored three times.

Braves 3, Nationals 1: Chipper Jones hit his 450th career home run.  Derek Lowe hit his first career home run, however, ensuring that Chipper gained no additional ground. Craig Kimbrel breaks the rookie saves record.

Blue Jays 13, Orioles 0: Damn.  The four homers were bad, but getting shut the hell out for eight innings by Henderson Alvarez just adds insult to, well, insult. For the third or fourth time this year I must write that this is a low point for the Orioles. This time I really do think I mean it.

Mets 3, Marlins 2: Jason Bay had three hits, including an RBI single that tied the game. He’s just excited about all of that center field talk, I’m sure.

Phillies 3, Reds 0: Cliff Lee shut out the Reds for eight and two-thirds but loaded the bases in the ninth. Three Ryan Madson pitchers later, the game was over.  Dude totally has a closer’s mentality. Amirite?

Astros 2, Pirates 0: Seven shutout innings for J.A. Happ? Sure. Why not?

Diamondbacks 4, Rockies 2: Nine straight for Arizona. Miguel Montero was 2 for 4 with a homer and three driven in.

Cardinals 8, Brewers 3: Jake Westbrook hit his first career homer — a grand slam no less — to help the Cards take their second straight from division-leading Milwaukee. Solo shots from Rafael Furcal and Albert Pujols too.  This isn’t yet critical for Milwaukee — they could drop two of three in both this series and next week’s series and will still have only lost two games’ ground on the Cards — but they really don’t need to be swept by them.

Mariners 2, Angels 1: A great pitching matchup between Felix Hernandez and Dan Haren that makes me wish I could stay up late and sleep in the next morning in order to catch it. But alas, such is not my lot nor my geography in life. Hernandez goes the distance allowing one run on five hits while striking out nine.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.