Tampa Bay Rays v Boston Red Sox

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 9, Red Sox 2: And things get closer. Three RBI a piece for B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman. Bad starting pitching, bad middle relief, slumbering bats swung by aching men. In other words, par for the course for Boston.

Phillies 3, Marlins 1Phillies 2, Marlins 1: Kyle Kendrick and five relievers limited the Marlins to one run in the first game. In the nightcap, Cliff Lee was one strike — one measly strike! — short of another shutout, but gave up a game-tying homer to Jose Lopez. Ryan Howard drove in the game-winner in the 10th, however. And please save me the sarcastic “I guess all of Ryan Howard’s RBIs are useless” rebop. He was 0 for his previous 15 going back to Sunday. Yes, the RBI was great. But the 0 for 15 happened too. You gotta judge it all, not just the good stuff.

Giants 8, Rockies 5: Pablo Sandoval — the only Giant who decided to pack his bat when they came north from Scottsdale this year — hit for the cycle. Here’s video of all four hits.  I gotta tell ya, the triple looks like the product of a conspiracy with Carlos Gonzalez. I’ve seen European soccer players stand more resolutely against contact than Gonzalez did when he fell down.  I’m calling shenanigans. Launch an investigation.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 2: Ross Ohlendorf pitched well and hit a three-run homer. Sad. This is one of the last “he helped his own causes” of the regular season.

Athletics 6, Tigers 1: Finally, Lloyd McClendon can change his underwear. The streak ends at 12. Brandon McCarthy allowed one run over seven.

Nationals 10, Mets 1: Five hits and three batted in for Ian Desmond. A pathetic display for the Mets, who lost their sixth in a row. After which Terry Collins said his team “folded it up.” It’s a charge that seems to have a little weight. They’re just mailing it in and looking forward to tee times two weeks from now.

Royals 7, White Sox 2: Is it misplaced to praise Mark Buehrle for still working fast when he gives up 15 hits?  Yeah. probably is. Still: two hours and thirty-eight minutes. The man is a the model of efficiency. Even when he’s getting beat like a red headed stepchild.

Rangers 7, Indians 4: Alexi Ogando surrendered but two hits in six shutout innings. No one tell him that he probably took the plurality of the vote in the Ugliest Active Player in Baseball poll in yesterday’s Twitter questions post, OK?

Reds 8, Cubs 6: The Cubs tied it up off Francisco Cordero in the ninth, but Jay Bruce won it with the walkoff job in the 11th inning. Reds starter Homer Bailey gave up a couple of homers. He hasn’t done that a lot lately, so he was asked about it: “You come out there and you don’t expect it to be 40 degrees,” Bailey said.  Fine, maybe it was the weather’s fault. But you can totally expect the weather. There are websites and everything that tell you all about it.

Diamondbacks name Dan Haren as pitching strategist

PHOENIX - APRIL 05:  Starting pitcher Dan Haren #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the San Diego Padres during the Opening Day major league baseball game at Chase Field on April 5, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Diamondbacks defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Diamondbacks announced on Tuesday afternoon that former major leaguer Dan Haren has been named the organization’s new pitching strategist. The role will include working with the front office, the major league coaching staff, and the analytics department.

Haren, 36, ended his 13-year playing career after the 2015 season. He finished with a 153-131 record and a 3.75 ERA across 2,419 2/3 innings.

Since retiring, Haren has been one of the more enjoyable players to follow on Twitter. He promised to teach his disciples how to tweet as part of his new responsibilities.

Pablo Sandoval is in the best shape of his life

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For a guy who won a World Series MVP Award and has been to a couple of All-Star Games, it’s amazing how many stories have been written about Pablo Sandoval‘s off-the-field exploits compared to his on-the-field exploits. Specifically, stories about his conditioning. Or lack of conditioning. Of him getting into shape, falling out of shape and getting back into shape again. It’s been this way since he emerged as an everyday player in 2009.

And it continues anew:

There is no claim here that Sandoval is, in fact, in The Best Shape of His Life. However, longtime BSOHL fans know that the claim is not about the magic words being used. The idea is that, in the offseason, players with something to prove will routinely make an effort to create the impression that they are a new man. Often it is from claiming that one is in The Best Shape of His Life. Often it comes from surrogates talking about how many pounds of fat one has lost or pounds of pure muscle one has added. Sometimes — as here — it comes in the form of showing post-workout photos.

Whatever the purpose of the photo, Sandoval is certainly looking good compared to where he was last spring:

FORT MYERS, - MARCH 14: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox makes the throw to first on the ground ball from Jason Rogers (not in photo) of the Pittsburgh Pirates during the fourth inning of the Spring Training Game on March 14, 2016 at Jet Blue Park at Fenway South, Florida. The Pirates defeated the Red Sox 3-1. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Or at the end of the 2015 season:

BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 31: Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox warms up prior to the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park on August 31, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox won the game 4-3. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

Even if this is part of a plan to get Sandoval some good press heading into the 2017 season, I’m happy to see that he appears to be recovered from shoulder surgery and appears to be taking good care of himself and is thinking about his baseball futrue.

Either way, expect the Panda Weight Watch to continue at Red Sox spring training come February.