And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 5, Royals 4: Jonathan Broxton walked two batters and hit two batters to blow the game in the 12th inning. That, my friends, is how you blow a save. Without doubt and with authority. None of this pussyfooting around with grounders that just get past an infielder. Decisive action brings order to a world full of chaos.

Rockies 17, Giants 8: Tim Lincecum was beat up for the second straight start, and this time it wasn’t just a minor beating. The Rockies touched the Giants’ ace for six runs in two and a third innings — his shortest outing ever — opening the floodgates for Colorado. He got a no-decision thanks to some equally-bad Rockies pitching, but then the bullpen gave up ten runs and that was that. The Rockies rapped out 22 hits overall, eight of which were doubles and three of which were triples. Lincecum’s struggles have to be concerning in the extreme to anyone who gives a crap about the Giants.

Brewers 2, Cubs 1: Castro kicked off the scoring with a sac fly in the first, but no one else on the Cubs wanted to associate themselves with Castro in this highly-charged environment, so he was the only Cub with an RBI. Yovani Gallardo induced approximately 126 ground balls and didn’t break much of a sweat in this one.

Rays 4, Tigers 2: Justin Verlander had a one-hitter going and had thrown a mere 81 pitches when the ninth inning began. He threw 23 more in the game without escaping it. A couple of singles and a walk chased him when it was tied 2-2 and Daniel Schlereth was called on for some reason. He walked another guy and Jose Valverde let two score on a Ben Zobrist single. Seeing Verlander go from nearly untouchable to watching singles squirt through here and there was one of the more unexpected things of the young season so far.

Phillies 7, Marlins 1: The Roy Halladay vs. Josh Johnson battle everyone was anticipating was decidedly one-sided. Doc threw seven innings of one-run ball and Johnson couldn’t get out of the fourth after allowing six runs on 11 hits. Every position player got a hit for Philadelphia, five of them got two or more.

Padres 2, Diamondbacks 1: Aww, Arizona finally loses a game. They were the last undefeated team in baseball before last night. So, per tradition, the survivors from the last undefeated baseball team will all now crack open their celebratory bottles of champagne, toasting the endurance of their lasting achievement.

Twins 6, Angels 5: Yes, the Twins won, but let us all take a moment and acknowledge that Peter Bourjous is one fast s.o.b. Check out his inside the park homer. Wait for the replay that sticks on him as he’s running the bases. He doesn’t even really start running hard until he’s in between first and second base. And there still was no play at the plate. What happens if he’s running hard out of the box?  Two times around the bases? Mercy.

Nationals 4, Mets 0: I guess it was getaway day for home plate umpire Larry Vanover too, because the pitching staffs combined for 25 strikeouts. Terry Collins was ejected when he’d seen all he could stand of a zone that had dudes being punched out on balls thrown over the opposite batter’s box. Johan Santana was effective but not efficient. Stephen Strasburg was both, and he got the win.

Yankees 6, Orioles 4: The second extra innings game in a row for these two. Nick Swisher’s two-run shot in the 10th ended up winning it.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 1: Rickey Romero shut the Red Sox down. Boston didn’t even have a hit after the third inning. And now they go back to Boston with a 1-5 record. Which is one win better than they were through six games last year, but don’t anyone mention it because that screws up the whole panic thing.

Reds 4, Caridnals 3: Joey Votto had four hits and scored the winning run when Chris Heisey singled him home in walkoff fashion. Aroldis Chapman struck out five dudes in two innings of relief work to get the win. Can someone tell me why he’s not starting?

White Sox 10, Indians 5: A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer and drove in four as the White Sox pulled away with a five-spot in the sixth inning. The Indians bullpen and offense have been a big problem in the early going, but Manny Acta is not worried:

“Five games is not going to make me panic about my bullpen, my offense, defense or anything like that,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “We have to give it a little more time.”

Then he can panic.

Braves 6, Astros 3: Jason Heyward had a night, as he goes 3 for 4 with two RBI and a homer. The big guy has started the year off hot, which is exactly what the Braves need if they have a shot at contention.

Mariners 4, Rangers 3: The M’s rallied after finding themselves down 3-0 entering the eighth inning, scoring one that inning and capping it off with three runs off Joe Nathan in the ninth. In other news, Kevin Millwood has had a fork stuck in his back several times over the past decade, but he always seems to find a way to remove it. After missing most of last season, he begins 2012 by giving up a mere one run on six hits to one of the best offenses in the game. He didn’t get the win — thanks Steve Delabar! — but he was solid.

Dodgers 4, Pirates 1: The Dodgers are now 5-1, thanks in part to Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera, each of whom had three hits. Chad Billingsley was strong again too, allowing only one run over six.

Mets closer Jeurys Familia receives a 15-game suspension for domestic violence

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Mets closer Jeurys Familia has received a 15-game suspension for domestic violence.

Familia was arrested in October following an incident at his home. Criminal charges were dropped in December. As we know, however, MLB’s domestic violence policy does not require criminal proceedings to be commenced, let alone completed, before the leveling of league punishment. MLB has been investigating the incident for the past several months.

Familia saved 51 games for the Mets last year while posting a 2.55 ERA. The Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

Familia has released a statement:

Today, I accepted a 15-game suspension from Major League Baseball resulting from my inappropriate behavior on October 31, 2016. With all that has been written and discussed regarding this matter, it is important that it be known that I never physically touched, harmed or threatened my wife that evening. I did,however, act in an unacceptable manner and am terribly disappointed in myself. I am alone to blame for the problems of that evening.

My wife and I cooperated fully with Major League Baseball’s investigation, and I’ve taken meaningful steps to assure that nothing like this will ever happen again. I have learned from this experience, and have grown as a husband, a father, and a man.

I apologize to the Mets’ organization, my teammates, and all my fans. I look forward to rejoining the Mets and being part of another World Series run. Out of respect for my teammates and my family, I will have no further comment.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred has a statement as well:

My office has completed its investigation into the events leading up to Jeurys Familia’s arrest on October 31, 2016.  Mr. Familia and his wife cooperated fully throughout the investigation, including submitting to in-person interviews with MLB’s Department of Investigations.  My office also received cooperation from the Fort Lee Municipal Prosecutor.  The evidence reviewed by my office does not support a determination that Mr. Familia physically assaulted his wife, or threatened her or others with physical force or harm, on October 31, 2016.  Nevertheless, I have concluded that Mr. Familia’s overall conduct that night was inappropriate, violated the Policy, and warrants discipline.

It is clear that Mr. Familia regrets what transpired that night and takes full responsibility for his actions.  Mr. Familia already has undergone 12 ninety-minute counseling sessions with an approved counselor specializing in the area of domestic violence, and received a favorable evaluation from the counselor regarding his willingness to take concrete steps to ensure that he is not involved in another incident of this type.  Further, he has agreed to speak to other players about what he has learned through this process, and to donate time and money to local organizations aimed at the prevention of, and the treatment of victims of, domestic violence.

2017 Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

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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 Milwaukee Brewers.

Every year, Major League Baseball plays host to two casts of characters: the contenders and the rebuilders. You might find slight variations — the rebuilders who stand a chance of contending, the contenders on the verge of rebuilding, or those stuck somewhere in between — but by and large, the lines are clearly drawn.

The 2017 Brewers, for better or worse, are rebuilders. Sure, you won’t find them at the bottom of the NL Central come October (that place is unequivocally reserved for the Reds), but neither will you see them snag a Wild Card berth or run away with the division title. This is the year of cultivating a fertile farm system, giving their big league prospects room to stretch and grow and figuring out whether Ryan Braun has a future in Milwaukee beyond 2017.

If the Brewers did anything right this winter, it was deepening their reserves at nearly every position. Behind the plate, Andrew Susac, Manny Pina and newly-acquired Jett Bandy bandied for the spot. Susac injured his back during camp, and while the MRI results didn’t reveal any significant damage, it doesn’t look like he’ll be healthy in time for Opening Day. Milwaukee skipper Craig Counsell has yet to identify a full-time catcher and could start the year with Pina and Bandy in a hybrid role after both backstops impressed during spring training.

Eric Thames replaced Chris Carter at first base, and while he’s expected to split duties with Jesus Aguilar, appears to be an unconventional acquisition for the Brewers. On paper, the two look miles apart. Carter slashed .222/.321/.499 with 41 home runs and an .821 OPS for the club in 2016, pairing his league-leading homers with a league-leading 206 strikeouts. Thames, meanwhile, flamed out in the majors in 2012 and has not returned to the major league stage since. Never mind that he has only ever played the outfield or that he’s technically made only 181 big league appearances in the last five years, though. Over the past three seasons, he mashed an incredible .349/.457/.721 with 124 home runs and a 1.178 OPS for the NC Dinos of the Korean Baseball Organization, and the three-year, $16 million contract he signed with Milwaukee will look like a steal if he can replicate those numbers in the United States.

The outfield posed another set of questions for the team, who was looking to fill right and center field with a combination of Keon Broxton, Hernan Perez, Domingo Santana, Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Kyle Wren. Broxton and Santana claimed spots in center and right, respectively, with Nieuwenhuis beating out the rest of the backup candidates to secure his position as the team’s fourth outfielder. Braun will resume his station in left field after a quiet spring training, during which he declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic or most of the Cactus League competition in order to stay healthy for the upcoming season. (At least, that’s one plausible reason. He also told the Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal’s Todd Rosiak, “I just don’t feel like I need at-bats to feel ready for games.”)

Of course, every team in the throes of rebuilding has at least one weak spot, and the Brewers are no exception. The starting rotation lacks clarity and talent outside of Junior Guerra and Zach Davies, both of whom flourished in their sophomore campaigns with Milwaukee in 2016. The club acquired left-hander Tommy Milone on the cheap, adding him to a lengthy list of candidates that included right-handers Chase Anderson, Wily Peralta, Matt Garza and Jimmy Nelson. Spring training did little to illuminate a clear path for the rotation: Garza imploded, Peralta shone, and Nelson and Anderson proved inconsistent at best.

The bullpen doesn’t look much better beyond newly-minted closer Neftali Feliz, who signed a one-year, $5.35 million deal with the Brewers after polishing off a healthy, productive season with the Pirates in 2016. While his bounce-back season looked like a good omen for Milwaukee, Feliz struggled through a rough spring, working 10 hits, six runs, three walks and seven strikeouts through nine innings in camp. He appears to be fully recovered from the “biceps fatigue” that curtailed his last season in Pittsburgh, and Counsell believes that he’ll improve with more reps this spring.

Elsewhere in the bullpen, the club is hurting for left-handed relief after optioning their only lefty candidate, Brent Suter, to Triple-A Colorado Springs last week. A suitable replacement for Suter has yet to be named, but there’s some chatter that Milone could assume a position in the bullpen if necessary.

Overall, the Brewers didn’t improve their major league roster as much as they stabilized it, opting for low-cost stopgaps while they condition younger, less-seasoned players waiting to break through to the bigs. A plethora of high-caliber prospects crowd the upper rungs of their farm system, so much so that the club has had difficulty trying to find enough room for all of them to develop at the appropriate level. Just take Triple-A Colorado Springs, which boasts a talented outfield of Lewis Brinson, Ryan Cordell and Brett Phillips and rotation battles among Hiram Burgos, Josh Hader, Paolo Espino, Wilkerson, Taylor Jungmann, Wei-Chung Wang and the aforementioned Brent Suter, among others.

Milwaukee is looking at a bright future, to be sure, but that future won’t be fully realized right now. The Brewers’ 2017 season will undoubtedly be more satisfying for its front office than its fans, unless those fans also have a ticket to Security Service Field. Given a few more years to develop their prospects and build out their farm system, however, these rebuilders could begin to look something like contenders.

Prediction: 4th place in NL Central.