New York Yankees v Seattle Mariners

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 4, Mariners 1: Obviously Ichiro in Yankees clothing is the weirdest thing to hit baseball in some time. Must be how it felt to see Willie Mays wearing a Mets jersey or — and I really don’t think it’s hyperbole to say it — Babe Ruth in a Boston Braves uniform. OK, if that’s too heavy for you, how about Hulk Hogan with the NWO? Anyway: Ichiro singled in his first at bat and stole second base, which is very Ichiro. Then he went hitless the rest of the way which is very recent-vintage Ichiro.  I suppose we’ll get used to this soon.

Phillies 7, Brewers 6: John Axford lost his closing job because he kept giving up big innings in save situations. Then K-Rod comes in tonight and allows four runs in the ninth to blow the easy three-run-lead save. Good for Philly: back to back homers for Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Bad: Roy Halladay gave up six runs on eight hits in six innings.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: Bryce Harper hit a two-run homer to kick off the scoring and then had the go-ahead RBI single in extra innings. But of course the Nats scored five more in tenth inning because the Mets bullpen is the Beatles of allowing multiple runs in extra innings games.

Rangers 9, Red Sox 1: The Rangers have played the Red Sox thrice this season. In those games Texas has outscored Boston 33-7. Just throwing this out there, but the Sox may want to get in on the starting pitching trade action that began yesterday.

Marlins 2, Braves 1: The Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade looked like the beginning of a sell-off for the Marlins. You think that might put Josh Johnson in play. And his six, one-hit shutout innings might be a good thing if you’re gonna market the guy. But then he left early with a finger injury. Doesn’t sound totally serious, but it’s worth watching.

Cubs 2, Pirates 0: Jeff Samardzija  was brilliant, allowing only one hit in eight shutout innings. His performance overshadowed near-equal brilliance from Erik Bedard, who struck out 11 while allowing one run over seven.

White S0x 7, Twins 4: The Chisox break a five game losing streak behind Adam Dunn’s league-leading 29th homer. Francisco Liriano had one of his worst outings of the year. That can’t help the trade value.

Dodgers 5, Cardinals 3: From the things that don’t happen very often department: Luis Cruz hit a three-run homer. Only his second in his career. Chad Billingsley gave up one over six innings.

Indians 3, Orioles 1: Forgot this series was still carrying over into Monday. A shame that this couldn’t have been the ninth sweep of the weekend. Thanks for nothing, Justin Masterson (7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER).

Giants 7, Padres 1: Buster Posey didn’t need much help, as he went 3 for 4 with a homer and four driven in. He got the help, though: Ryan Vogelsong tossed seven one-run innings.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3: Ian Kennedy took most of the work into his own hands as well, tripling with the bases loaded in the fourth to drive in what proved to be all the runs he’d need. Then he finished the night allowing two over eight innings and striking out seven. Jonathan Sanchez allowed five runs on six hits and four walks in his first start for the Rockies. I’m not sure what else they were expecting.

Reds 8, Astros 3: Everyone’s talking about the Pirates, but the Reds are in first place, have won eight of ten and show no signs of slowing down. This despite no Joey Votto in the lineup. Ryan Ludwick and Todd Frazier had three hits and two RBIs each in a game that took nearly four hours. Why anyone would want to watch the Astros play for that long is a mystery to me.

Angels 6, Royals 3: Kendrys Morales came in to pinch-hit with the bases loaded in the eighth and stroked a single that cleared the bases. I have not seen the video of it yet, but I’m wondering if this occurred because it really woulda been a double if not for the fact that a guy like Kendrys Morales was running or if, alternatively, the Royals played some Keystone Cops outfield.

 

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Puerto Rico won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.