And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and higlights

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It was a really rough weekend for people in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C. Storms, trees down, power outages and intense heat made it for a really crappy weekend. We were fairly lucky here at Chez Craigy. The power was out for only about 24 hours before coming back Saturday evening.

Even luckier: the ex-wife’s power was still out as of late Sunday. Mother Nature can be tough and is usually capricious, but sometimes she’s fair. Not that I’m petty about it or anything. OK, a little petty. Anyway, baseball happened yesterday:

Tigers 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is in freefall. They dropped three of four to the Tigers. Clearly it was the Tigers dusting off the most awesomest road jerseys they’ve ever had on Saturday night that did the trick. Seriously, Tigers: keep the pullovers. They’re dead sexy. And yes, I realize they didn’t wear them yesterday. I just wanted to post this pic.

Marlins 5, Phillies 2: Miami sweeps the Phillies who have lost five straight. Ricky Nolasco said after the game:

“A sweep against anybody is big, but we know how good that team is and we’re trying to prevent them from getting on a roll as well”

I see quotes like this from Phillies’ opponents a lot lately. Question: at what point do the other teams have to stop paying lip service like this to how good Philly is and treat wins over them like they would wins over any team with a .444 winning percentage?

Giants 4, Reds 3:  Nice vulture job by Santiago Casilla. It was a perfect one, actually, because not only did he blow the save and vulture the win, but he also allowed an inherited runner to score thereby stiffing his predecessor with an earned run. Casilla entered the top of the ninth with a one-run lead and Jay Bruce on first, who had gotten there via a single off Javier Lopez. Casilla allowed Bruce to score, trying the game and blowing the chance for Ryan Voglesong to get the win after a good day’s work, when he gave up three singles. He finally sets down the side and watches from the dugout as Buster Posey hit a double and Angel Pagan doubled him in (with help from Jay Bruce) with the winning run. Hard-earned win there, Mr. Casilla.

Brewers 2, Diamondbacks 1: Tied at one in the ninth, pinch-runner Carlos Gomez at first. They try to pick him off a gajillion times but they don’t get him. he finally steals second, the throw from the catcher sails into the outfield and the throw to get him at third sails into the stands. Gomez trots home. Ballgame. You know those are the kinds of fundamentals that Kirk Gibson just loves to see screwed up. I’m sure he was something other than placid after the game.

Padres 2, Rockies 0: Great for Kip Wells winning his first game in nearly three years, but him throwing seven shutout innings against Colorado in Coors Field may be the biggest indictment yet against this pretty-frequently indicted 2012 Rockies team.

Angels 10, Blue Jays 6: Mike Trout hit the go-ahead homer in the eighth and the Angels scores seven runs in the final two innings to ruin Canada Day in Toronto. Trout went 2 for 4 with a walk and scored three times. He’s now batting .339 on the year.

Twins 10, Royals 8: Trevor Plouffe homered twice. The Twins came back from being down 5-1, went up 10-5 and then held on to win 10-8. Josh Willingham homered too. Despite having 17 of those on the year and 55 driven in, he was left off the All-Star team. But hey, three days off, yes?

Cubs 3, Astros 0: A sweep of the Astros by Chicago behind seven and two-thirds shutout innings by Travis Wood. Anthony Rizzo drove in another run.

Cardinals 5, Pirates 4: The Cards salvage one. Allen Craig continues to abuse Pirates pitching with his second homer in three days.

Yankees 4, White Sox 2: With starters dropping like flies lately, the one thing the Yankees seriously need is for dudes like Phil Hughes to step up. And up he has stepped his past couple of starts. In this one he allowed two runs over eight innings, helping save the bullpen on a day they needed a rest.

Nationals 8, Braves 4: Ryan Zimmerman homered and drove in four as the Nats take two of three from the Braves, as they always seem to do. Well, except for four-game series in which they always seem to take three of four.

Indians 6, Orioles 2: Jim Thome made his Orioles’ debut but he didn’t mash any taters. Shelley Duncan mashed a tater, however, and drove in two on a 3 for 4 day.

Red Sox 2, Mariners 1: Jason Vargas couldn’t get any run support on a fine day of pitching, so it entered extras tied at one. In the tenth two runners reached on Brandon League and then David Ortiz hit a sac fly to score what would be the winning run off Lucas Luetge. Oh, and Will Middlebrooks left the game with hamstring tightness. I wonder if the White Sox are willing to deal their third baseman.

Athletics 3, Rangers 1: Yu Darvish struck out 11, but Travis Blackley still out-pitched him despite striking out three. Because strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic.

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: The Dodgers gave away a Hello Kitty bobblehead last night and they won. I submit that they should give away Hello Kitty bobbleheads all 81 home games of the season.

Matt Boyd earns No. 5 spot in Tigers’ starting rotation

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Matt Boyd has earned the No. 5 spot in the Tigers’ starting rotation, which means veteran Anibal Sanchez will pitch out of the bullpen, MLB.com’s Jason Beck reported on Wednesday.

Boyd, 26, pitched well this spring, compiling a 2.49 ERA with a 21/0 K/BB ratio in 21 2/3 innings. The lefty’s numbers in the majors last year weren’t nearly as good.

Sanchez, 33, is coming off of the worst season of his career and overall didn’t have a great spring, putting up a 5.03 ERA with a 20/4 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings. He came on strong at the end, however, tossing 14 consecutive scoreless innings. Manager Brad Ausmus didn’t rule out the possibility of Sanchez returning to the rotation at some point.

2017 Preview: Oakland Athletics

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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 Oakland Athletics.

The A’s aren’t gonna be that great this year, you guys. Sorry about that, but it’s true. In this it will be much like last year.

But it will look a bit different than last year at least. The A’s signed Santiago CasillaMatt JoyceTrevor Plouffe and Rajai Davis to a combined $33.25 million in contracts. I don’t see how that makes them appreciably better, but they will be different.

Khris Davis is the biggest offensive weapon. He hit 42 homers last year. Marcus Semien hit 27. And despite those heroics, the A’s offense was dead last in the AL in 2016. Rajai Davis gives them a stolen base threat and Joyce had nice resurgence in a little under 300 plate appearances, but I’m not seeing how this crew is all that better than they were. I mean, I’m sure Trevor Plouffe is a nice young man, but he’s not an offensive difference maker. The biggest chance for improvement comes from a full season of Ryon Healy, who hit quite well in 72 games last year. He was also moved off of third base for Plouffe and into the DH role at the age of 25, so temper your expectations.

Turning to the rotation, Sonny Gray at the top of things looked great heading into last season, but then he regressed badly, posting an unsightly 5.69 ERA in 2016. The A’s don’t need him to be be third in the Cy Young voting again, but they certainly need him to be their ace, and last year he wasn’t that. He’ll get a late start to the season due to a back injury — he may miss the entire first month — so things are already starting off badly.

After Gray comes Sean Manaea, who debuted last year and improved as the season went along. Kendall Graveman was serviceable last year, but he doesn’t miss many bats and it’s hard to pitch well in this league when you’re striking out as few batters as Graveman does. Jharel Cotton is an intriguing fourth starter. He came over in the Rich Hill deal and continued his excellent work in the minors before a late season callup. He is homer-prone but doesn’t walk a ton of guys. Definitely a guy to watch for the future. Andrew Triggs is a swingman who was pressed into the rotation late in the year. The A’s liked what they saw, but he has been a reliever all through the minors. Organizations tend to do that to guys who they don’t think will be decent starters, so I’m not sure what a few starts at the end of a season really mean.

If Gray bounces back to 2015 form, Graveman continues to be lucky on batted balls and the other guys deliver on their small-sample-size promise, hey, things aren’t too bad! But when was the last time that kind of five-for-five gamble paid off? Odds are on a nice surprise here, some stasis there and some regression and/or growing pains mixed in to form a pretty meh rotation. And given that the A’s defense was terrible last year and doesn’t look all that better this year, look for a lot of unearned runs. And earned runs that should’ve been unearned.

The bullpen features some notable names — Ryan Madson, Sean Doolittle, John Axford and Santiago Casilla have all been closers in the past — with Ryan DullLiam Hendriks and Raul Alcantara providing more depth. Dull is anything but his name. His excellent K/BB ratio last year — 73/15 in 74.1 innings — is downright interesting. These guys will inherit a lot of deficits instead of leads, however, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see the A’s trade off a one or two of the ~Proven Closers~ at the deadline as well.

The A’s won 69 games last year. There are three contenders in the division who are significantly better and an Angels team that employs some considerably more talented players despite its obvious flaws. The A’s have just as many flaws and top out with Khris Davis, a rebound candidate starting the year on the DL as their best starter and some interesting young arms. All of that adds up to a long, long summer from where I’m sitting.

Prediction: Fifth place, American League West.