And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 10, Cubs 3: Chipper Jones was named to the All-Star team and then went out and put up a 5-for-5, 4 RBI night. Dude even stole a base. Which is nuts considering he was rejected from the leg transplant list as an unsuitable recipient at least five years ago. Of course I talk about him like he’s an doddering old man when he’s just over a year older than me. Either way, glad to see him leaving this game with something still left in the tank, even if the body is rusting a fair amount.

Brewers 13, Marlins 12: Wildness. The Marlins were down 9-2 entering the seventh, came back to tie it at 11 in the eighth and  took a one-run lead in the 10th. Then Aramis Ramirez tore their guts out with a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the tenth to walk it off. Of course the game took four hours and twenty-eight minutes, so Rick Reilly probably missed his dinner reservation. Pity.

White Sox 19, Rangers 2: Um, yeah. Let us not dwell only on Roy Oswalt being drawn and quartered to the tune of 11 runs on 13 hits in four and two-thirds. Let us also note that Chris Sale won his 10th game and lowered his ERA to 2.19. Didn’t need 16 runs of that support he got.

Mets 11, Phillies 1: Daniel Murphy and David Wright each drove in four and Jon Niese outdueld Vance Worley. What? I can use the word “outdueled” even if Worley got rocked. Just think of it as a duel between a master swordsman and a fat kid holding a piece of licorice

Rays 7, Yankees 4: Yankees had a 3-0 lead, blew it and lost. But they are in Tropicana Field, and it’s their own personal Hell, so I understand.

Pirates 8, Astros 7: Walkoff for Drew Sutton. The Pirates are eight games over .500 for the first time since 1992. Some of you probably weren’t born in 1992.

Blue Jays 6, Royals 3: Lots of blown leads/big comebacks last night. This one by the Jays, who were down 3-0 and then scored six unanswered runs. Well, unanswered by other runs. I suppose the Royals answered it with a lot of profanity and stuff.

Nationals 9, Giants 3: Remember last time out when we thought Tim Lincecum had finally figured it out? Yeah, turns out that was merely a function of the Dodgers sucking. Last night he was beat up again, allowing eight runs and nine hits in three and a third for one of the worst starts of his career. We gotta ask: is the dude hurt or what? Because this is not natural.

Dodgers 3, Reds 1: Luis Cruz doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh, took third on the relay throw and then on a squeeze play that wasn’t — Johnny Cueto threw the ball too high for the hitter to make contact — Cruz was credited with a steal of home. Never mind that the throw went skipping to the backstop and could have been a wild pitch, it’s a steal of home because Cruz was running first. I’d say 75% of all steals of home plate don’t really look like we imagine what a steal of home looks like.

Padres 9, Diamondbacks 5: Young Trevor Bauer is highly touted, but if you get beat around by the Padres, you need a little more seasoning. Not that it was all good news for the Padres: Andrew Cashner had to leave after two innings due to a strained side.

Orioles 5, Mariners 4: Robert Andino homered in the top of the ninth to put the O’s over. Wei-Yin Chen was perfect for six and a third innings.

Rockies 3, Cardinals 2: Tyler Colvin is one of the few recent bright spots for Colorado. He’s 24 for 67 his last 18 games with seven homers and 22 RBIs. Last night his three-run blast was all the offense the Rockies needed.

Athletics 3, Red Sox 2: Alfredo Aceves blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth by allowing three singles and a sac fly. The Sox had a chance to pad that lead in the top of the inning but ran their way out of it when Nick Punto popped up a bunt which caused Mike Aviles to get doubled off first and then Ryan Kalish was caught stealing third base. Viva small ball.

Indians 9, Angels 5: Zach McAllister, who I got to see in Columbus earlier this year, so I’m gonna like him, showed some moxie. He was staked to a 4-0 lead, blew it in the fifth and was down 5-4, but regrouped and held on as his teammates scored some more and saved him. Lots of rookies would crumble in that situation.

Twins 8, Tigers 6: Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham each hit homers. Those two have been the freakin’ Bash Brothers for Minnesota this year. Good story for the Tigers though: Darin Downs pitched a scoress ninth inning. Downs fractured his skull and suffered brain swelling after getting hit by a line drive while pitching for Tampa Bay’s Double-A team in 2009. Guy could have died, and here he is now in the majors. Pretty incredible.

Report: Rangers agree to six-year extension with Rougned Odor

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The Rangers have reportedly agreed to a six-year, $49.5 million extension for second baseman Rougned Odor, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The extension comes with a club option for a seventh year, Heyman adds.

It’s close to the six-year, $52.5 million extension Jason Kipnis netted with the Indians in 2014, a sum Odor was rumored to be seeking during contract negotiations over the last two years. Granted, the circumstances are a little different this time around. Both players signed extensions on the cusp of their fourth year in the major leagues, but at 27 years old, Kipnis was coming off of an All-Star campaign and a career-high 4.5 fWAR performance. Odor, meanwhile, saw mixed results in 2016, batting 33 home runs and putting up 2.0 fWAR while struggling to stay consistent at the plate and exhibiting poor defense.

According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, Odor previously agreed to a $563,180 salary for 2017. Depending on when the extension kicks in, it should cover all three of Odor’s arbitration-eligible seasons and two seasons of potential free agency. The team has yet to confirm the extension.

2017 Preview: Minnesota Twins

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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 Minnesota Twins.

Which iteration of the Twins will we get in 2017? The second-place contenders of 2015, blazing their way through the standings with 83 wins and a handful of hot prospects? The burnouts of 2016, flopping to the bottom of the division with 103 losses and a lineup held in place by Brian Dozier and, well, Brian Dozier? Or something in between?

Finishing dead last has its perks, namely a first-round draft pick and the feeling that things can’t be quite as bad as they were the year before. Unfortunately for the Twins, the only major preparation they made for the 2017 season came in the form of a front office shakeup. Derek Falvey assumed control of the club in October, bringing GM Thad Levine into the fold in November as the club assumed a more analytics-friendly approach toward the rebuilding movement.

When it came to roster revisions, however, there wasn’t much moving or shaking this winter. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe, catcher Kurt Suzuki and left-handers Tommy Milone and Pat Dean vacated their spots on the roster. Falvey avoided some of the bigger bats and bullpen arms in free agency and opted to sign backstop Jason Castro and journeyman reliever Ryan Vogelsong instead.

By and large, the core of the Twins’ roster remained the same. Center fielder Byron Buxton, infielder/outfielder Michael Sano and right-hander Jose Berrios still form the nucleus of the club’s top prospects. Middle infielder Brian Dozier will also return in 2017, though he appears to be on borrowed time with the Twins after putting up monster numbers in the second half of 2016. Ervin Santana will head the rotation again, accompanied by fellow veterans Hector Santiago, Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes, while right-handed relievers Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly and Matt Belisle and rehabbing lefty Glen Perkins attempt to prevent another bullpen collapse in 2017.

Without any major additions to the team (and, excepting the departure of Trevor Plouffe, any major subtractions), the Twins will look to their existing cadre of players for significant improvements in 2017. Miguel Sano is expected to take over third base in Plouffe’s absence, which will bring a welcome end to his short-lived and wholly unsuccessful experiment in right field. Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco and Joe Mauer should round out the infield, with Byung Ho Park and Kennys Vargas currently vying for a spot as the team’s designated hitter.

The lineup is still four or five or six sluggers shy of formidable, but if Dozier can be counted on to repeat his 42-homer, 5.9 fWAR performance from 2016, there will be at least one Twin worth intentionally walking in 2017. Neither Miguel Sano nor Byron Buxton have quite found their footing against big league pitching yet, and another year spent struggling in the majors could mean another year of sub-optimal run production for the team as well. Jason Castro, who grades as an above-average defender behind the plate, is unlikely to provide any additional pop for the Twins at the plate after slashing just .210/.307/.377 through 376 PA with the Astros in 2016.

The pitching department also leaves a little to be desired in light of the league-worst 5.09 ERA they amassed last season. A veteran-heavy rotation could get a boost from the addition of fifth-starter candidate Jose Berrios, who is thought to be the favorite after fellow rotation candidate Trevor May underwent Tommy John surgery earlier this week. Right-hander Tyler Duffey and 23-year-old southpaw Adalberto Mejia are also waiting in the wings. Both have made convincing cases for their inclusion on the pitching staff this spring, but Duffey is coming off of a 6.43 ERA in 2016 and Mejia lacks some of the polish that Berrios offers. Still, stockpiling young pitching depth isn’t a bad thing, and could give the Twins a cushion in the event of injury or collapse down the stretch.

The bullpen outperformed the rotation in 2016, which is saying… something, though maybe not a lot. They still finished the year with a cumulative 4.63 ERA, good for last place among their American League rivals, and delivered just 2.1 fWAR while taking on the fourth-most innings in the league. The standout performer was 28-year-old righty Ryan Pressly, who worked a 3.70 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 in 75 1/3 innings last year. In light of Ryan Vogelsong’s recent departure from the club, the Twins will round out their bullpen with left-hander Craig Breslow, who turned in a 4.50 ERA with the Marlins in 2016 and is looking for a bounce-back season of his own after reworking his delivery at age 36.

For now, it looks like Falvey and the Twins’ front office are taking a wait-and-see approach to the coming season, which bodes well for their long-term vision (assuming most of their young prospects pan out) and not so well for their chances of moving up in the division in the next year or so. That could change by the trade deadline if they can secure a worthwhile return for Dozier, though given the rumors of their understandably high asking price, it could take more than a few months to get a deal in place.

Even assuming that all the chips fall in the Twins’ favor in 2017 — prospects start hitting consistently, the rotation solidifies, and Falvey loosens the purse strings enough to net more established contenders — it’s difficult to imagine anything more than a fourth-place finish for the club as they continue to rebuild and regroup. Barring any major improvements on the inconsistent, if occasionally productive, lineup of 2016, another last-place finish feels imminent.

Prediction: Fifth place, AL Central.