And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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If I missed something important in one of these it’s because I was less plugged-in than usual yesterday. My daughter Mookie had her dance recital. Both ballet and jazz, which required me to sit through two (2)  separate shows. I kid you not: four hours of sitting in an auditorium to watch eight minutes of my eight year-old daughter dancing. But hey, to make up for it I paid over $1,500 for dance tuition in the past year, plus tickets to both shows at $25 a pop, plus costumes and everything else. I swear, I can’t dance a lick, but I’m tempted to open up a ballet studio, because it’s a license to print money.

Of course, even if it’s not always pretty, I do it anyway because my girl is precious and cute and even as I bitch like crazy about how much I’m gouged for this kind of thing, I still have to fight back proud tears when she does her thing and then hug her tightly and never let go when she’s done.  Let no one doubt my commitment to Sparkle Motion.  Anyway:

Tigers 4, Pirates 3: Max Scherzer struck out 15 in seven innings. See, that’s what he does: gets totally killed for a few starts and then pulls something like this from where the sun don’t shine. His stuff is such that, if everything breaks right one year, he’ll put together some crazy Cy Young season. But in the meantime, erraticville.

Brewers 16, Twins 4: Jonathan Lucroy hit cleanup, homered twice and drove in seven. After the game he said he was comfortable as a cleanup hitter. The Brewers should bat everyone fourth, really.

Red Sox 5, Phillies 1: Josh Beckett continues to not poison the Red Sox with his horrible attitude and personal worthlessness. Shocking. I almost feel like someone was peddling a b.s. narrative in the wake of that tempest in a Boston teapot non-story a couple weeks ago.  Seven and two-thirds of one-run ball for Beckett. A three-run homer for Saltalamacchia.

Athletics 6, Giants 2: Tim Lincecum’s disaster season continues unabated. Beat by Bartolo Colon after giving up four runs in four innings and ending it with an ugly collision while covering the plate on his own wild pitch. Where is Timmy’s mojo?

Mariners 6, Rockies 4: The ninth inning was shaky, but the M’s held on to sweep the Rockies. Jesus Montero and Justin Smoak hit back-to-back homers, Blake Beavan struck out seven.

White Sox 6, Cubs 0: And the South Siders own Chicago for now, sweeping the Cubs. Jake Peavy threw six and a third shutout innings. Adam Dunn hit a homer. Peavy and Dunn. After last year, who knew?

Diamondbacks 2, Royals 0: I called Brandon Beachy “the best pitcher you’ve never heard of” the other day. How about Wade Miley?  After seven shutout innings he’s 5-1 with a 2.14 ERA.

Braves 2, Rays 0: Tim Hudson outduels David Price. His sinker was working and he wore out the infield carpet with 14 groundball outs. I never thought I’d think of Tim Hudson as crafty, but he was crafty. The Braves have won 7 of 10.

Rangers 6, Astros 1: Colby Lewis scoffs at the DH. In addition to allowing one run over eight innings, he went 2 for 4 with an RBI single. Texas scored five in the first inning, ending this one before it really began.

Nationals 9, Orioles 3: More DH-disrespecting: Stephen Strasburg struck out eight in five innings and went 2 for 2 with a homer. He left the game early with tightness in his biceps. Bicepts. Anyone miss Bicepts? He’s bugging me on Twitter to let him back in the comments. Said he would only comment in ATH and wouldn’t wade into other threads. I’m kinda skeptical, but you guys can offer your views. It’s not a democracy. I’m gonna make up my own mind on this, but your thoughts are welcome.

Mets 6, Blue Jays 5: Mike Baxter singled, doubled, tripled and drove in a run. Ain’t gonna lie: before this game, if you put Mike Baxter in a lineup I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out. I’d be all like, “I can put you in Queens on the night of the hijacking.” And he’d be like “Really? I live in Queens. Did you put that together yourself, Einstein? What, do you got a team of monkeys working around the clock on this?”

Reds 5, Yankees 2: The Yankees have lost five of six and Aroldis Chapman is now the Reds’ closer, which means he’s further ensconced in the bullpen what with the fancy label and all.  Gosh, there are days I wake up and think I don’t understand baseball anymore.

Padres 3, Angels 2: Clayton Richard pinch hit and was running the bases when he scored the winning run in the 13th, but that’s OK because Howie Kendrick was playing left field. No one was doing what they were supposed to do. Least of all the Padres, who were taking two of three from the Angels.

Marlins 5, Indians 3: Josh Johnson allowed one run over seven. Everyone who bought high on Derek Lowe following that shutout he threw last week saw him pitch well but still got the loss. Hey, he’s Derek Lowe, you can only ask so much.

Dodgers 6, Cardinals 5: I’m supposed to be a professional baseball writer with a national focus and I had no idea that Andy Van Slyke’s kid was in the bigs? God, sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t get out of bed in the morning. Scott Andyson (see what I did there?) hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the seventh to snatch victory from what, for much of the evening, looked like the jaws of defeat for the Dodgers.

Jeurys Familia’s domestic violence suspension to be announced today

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Mike Puma of the New York Post reports that the announcement of Jeurys Familia‘s domestic violence suspension is expected some time today.

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.

Billy Witz of the New York Times reported Monday that the suspension is “almost certain” to be lighter than the 30-game suspension Aroldis Chapman received one year ago. However much time Familia misses, the Mets are expecting Addison Reed to fill in at closer until he returns.

2017 Preview: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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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 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. 

Let’s look first at the strengths. There’s Mike Trout, the undisputed best player in the game. That’s always a good start. I could bore you with a bunch of stats and historical comparisons here but we’re friends here and, let’s be honest, we don’t need or even want that. The guy is good, ’nuff said.

Indeed, I had an impulse to simply photoshop Trout’s head on this poster and be done with the entire Angels preview:

 

You could almost stop reading now and know what’s up in Anaheim this year.

But honestly, Trout isn’t the only strength here. The Angels have the best defensive shortstop in the league in Andrelton Simmons and a lot of other good defensive players as well, from Kole Calhoun in right, Cameron Maybin in left, Luis Valbuena at first (or wherever he’s slotted once he comes back from a hamstring injury) and Danny Espinosa at second. Their catching corps — Martin Maldonado and Carlos Perez — are solid too. When you lack team depth and have pitching challenges like the Angels do, not kicking the ball all over the field is a good thing. The Angels have kicked the ball a lot in recent years but they’ll be pretty good with the leather in 2017, and that can make up for a lot of faults.

But I ain’t gonna lie, there are a lot of faults here.

Garrett Richards is back from a UCL injury that sidelined him most of last season. He didn’t get Tommy John surgery — he went with stem cell treatment — so the recovery time is lower. Still, it seems like a lot of guys who go the rehab route end up going under the knife eventually anyway, so everyone will have their eye on the Angels’ ace as the season goes on.

Beyond Richards the rotation is suspect. Matt ShoemakerRicky NolascoTyler Skaggs — also coming back from injury — and Jesse Chavez do not, as a group, strike fear into anyone’s hearts. I guess the hope here is that Nolasco’s pitching after he came over from Minnesota is more indicative of what he can do than what he did earlier in the year. Or, for that matter, for the past three seasons. If Richards is healthy he’s an ace. The rest of these guys are basically average at best.

The pen has issues. Cam Bedrosian had a fantastic 2016, but it was definitely a huge step up for him and may have been an aberration. closer Huston Street did not have a fantastic 2016, is recovering from a strained lat now and it’s fair to ask whether he’s got what it takes to close in the bigs anymore. Even if that’s too pessimistic an assessment, he’s missed a lot of time this spring. Andrew Bailey, like Nolasco, pitched well after coming to Anaheim last summer but poorly before that, with the poorly looking more like his true level than the well. Otherwise Mike Scioscia has a lot of young arms but not a lot of particularly good ones. Look for his bullpen to feature a cast of thousands.

As for the lineup: Trout is Trout. Albert Pujols is recovering from yet another foot issue. He still has old man strength and can hit some dingers, but he’s a shell of his former self and it’s fair to ask how many lower body maladies a guy whose primary value is tied up in power can tolerate. Yunel Escobar, Kole Calhoun and C.J. Cron are useful and predictable, even if they’re not game-changers. The Angels were 10th in offense in the AL last year. It’s hard to see them making a big leap from that level this year, even if they’re not likely to be too much worse either.

Ultimately, there’s not enough pitching here and there’s not a scary enough secondary or tertiary offensive threat behind Trout to make the offense difficult to deal with. If you play the Angels you’ll score some runs and you can pitch to everyone who isn’t wearing the number 27. That’s not gonna cut it in the AL West this year.

Prediction: Fourth place, American League West.