And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 8, Orioles 7: It came down to the last at bat. An epic 10-pitch job to Adam Jones with a runner on second that I watched live even though I didn’t watch the whole game because, hell, how can you not?  Two homers for Ryan Lavarnway. In other news, who in the hell is Ryan Lavarnway?

Rays 5, Yankees 3: Matt Joyce with the three-run homer off Rafael Soriano brought the Rays back from a 3-2 deficit. Russell Martin grounded into a triple play at one point. I assume he did that to screw the Red Sox somehow.

Phillies 7, Braves 1: I would like to offer an apology to Derek Lowe. Yesterday on Twitter, while I was feeling pessimistic, I said that he’d offer up a “4 IP, 6 ER performance.” In fact he offered up a 4 IP, 5 ER performance. Why I doubted my team’s $15 million, 17-loss ace, I have no idea, but I just hope to make it up to him someday.

Cardinals 13, Astros 6: This was a massacre, but it’s worth noting that it was Ryan Theriot’s two-run double that broke the tie and helped open the floodgates. We’ve had a lot of fun at his expense lately, what with all of the “it is what it is” quotes, but good on him for coming up big. Oh, and congrats to Tony La Russa for burning through 139 players in this game. Can’t wait for him to face the Yankees in the World Series. We might be able to catch the end of the games after we wake up for work the next morning.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 6: Wow, talk about wild! Eleven runs were scored between these two in the 10th inning, with Ryan Roberts walking off with a grand slam for the Dbacks. He did the Kirk Gibson fist pump thing as he rounded the bases too. I’m assuming the fact that Roberts lived to talk about after the game means that the successful season has mellowed Gibson a bit.

Brewers 6, Pirates 4: Three homers for Prince Fielder tie him with Matt Kemp at the top of the NL leaderboard. Ryan Braun remains a single point off the batting title lead. Why…?

Reds 5, Mets 4: … Because Jose Reyes hit two homers and singled, raising his average to .336. In a losing effort, however, because the Reds tied it in the ninth and then won it on a squeeze play in the 13th.

Twins 7, Royals 4: Rene Tosoni is about the only Twins player I’ve called by name in a week. Four RBI here is a good enough reason for it, but really I don’t know why he’s on my mind. My mind got bent last night anyway. I gave up on Derek Lowe’s crap-fest early and decided to watch a “Battlestar Galactica” episode. It was the one in which Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” played a significant part, and that’s messed up for about 15 reasons, the least of which is that these people all come from a planet in which there is no such thing as Bob Dylan. But I’ll let it slide. I’m just going to assume it all makes sense sometime in the next 25 episodes. Hopefully it ends with Bob Dylan being a Cylon. That would be epic.

Giants 7, Rockies 0: Oh, so there’s the offense. Sorry dudes, too late.

Athletics 7, Mariners 0: Oh, so there’s Trevor Cahill’s dominance. Sorry dude, too late.

White Sox 2, Blues Jays 1: Don Cooper now has the best winning percentage in the history of White Sox managers. I’m not sure how you don’t rehire him based on that. If it was Mark Buehrle’s last game for the White Sox, it was very Mark Buehrle-ish. Seven shutout innings in two hours and fifteen minutes.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2:  Bryan Petersen homered with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Javier Vazquez was awesome again. It may have been the final game of his career. Today will be the last ever game in whatever the hell they’re calling that ballpark now. Good riddance.

Cubs 6, Padres 2: Starlin Castro had a couple of hits. He’ll become the youngest man to ever lead the NL in that category when the season ends today. He has also reached base in 39 consecutive games.

Rangers 10, Angels 3: Texas wins its 95th game. That’s one more than Detroit as it seeks home field advantage in the playoffs. Detroit holds the tiebreaker, however, so thew Rangers need to win today or have the Tigers lose to secure it and a matchup against the wild card winner. Kudos to the game story writer for using the word “penultimate” in the AP recap.

Tigers 9, Indians 6: Wilson Betemit had been suffering from a sore knee and Jim Leyland had said just yeasterday that he’s worried about him. No worries: Betemit hit a 423-foot homer.

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.