Eight Men Out

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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It was a light schedule and my Braves played a late game, so I watched “Eight Men Out” last night. For, like, the 5th or 6th time. And that just made me want to watch “Matewan” again for, um, the 20th time or thereabouts. Maybe tomorrow night. Anyway, damn you John Sayles, damn you.

As for “Eight Men Out,” I think the best part of it is not the actual narrative, which most hardcore baseball fans know pretty well. I think it’s the player interaction during Game 1 of the Series. You can just feel the tension each of them have, whether they’re in on the fix or not. It helps bring current the reason for baseball’s hard line stance on gambling when, in this day and age, it feels a bit like a historical curio. It’s not, though. When you undermine competition like that so blatantly, and when players betray their own teammates, god, that’s the worst thing you can do in a competitive sporting atmosphere.

Anyway, good stuff. Worth going back to again if it’s been a while since you’ve seen it. And if you haven’t seen it, jeez, what’s your problem?

Angels 14, Red Sox 13: This game should be taken out and shot. NESN and Fox Sports are gonna be fined for obscenity for broadcasting it. If pregnant women were watching it they’re gonna be charged with child endangerment. It was just the stupidest, ugliest oh-my-god-fans-of-these-teams-probably-want-to-jump-off-of-a-bridge game of the year.

Cardinals 13, Astros 5: The Astros took a 4-0 lead after four, but they are the Astros so you sorta knew that wouldn’t last. David Freese and Matt Holliday each drove in four. Allen Craig had three, and Jake Westbrook got a boatload of run support on a day when he didn’t have much of anything.

Rays 5, Athletics 0: Alex Cobb with a four-hit shutout. Can’t do much with that.

Tigers 3, Blue Jays 2: I wrote this one up yesterday. But suffice it to say, Justin Verlander just doesn’t know how to win.

Rockies 1, Mets 0: In his big league debut Collin McHugh pitched two-hit ball over seven scoreless innings, but the bats couldn’t do anything to help him out. Or the defense. The only Colorado run scored when  Jordany Valdespin misplayed Tyler Colvin’s fly to center in the eighth. He basically pulled a Calcaterra — the play I perfected in Babe Ruth ball and which got me moved out of the outfield — running in several steps on a ball and then having to run back when he realized he misjudged it, letting it fall for a triple. Except unlike Valdespin, I did it on every single ball hit my way. Colorado completes a four game sweep.

Giants 5, Braves 2: I still think the Braves will hold on to win the wild card this year, but I gotta tell ya, when you let Barry Zito shut you out through eight innings, you probably don’t deserve it. The Giants now have a three game lead in the west.

Rangers 10, Twins 6: Josh Hamilton drove in five and Adrian Beltre hit his fourth home run in two games. Texas broke it open with a six run eighth inning, five of which were unearned because of two Twins errors. And there was some chippy stuff too: Roy Oswalt hit Joe Mauer and Scott Diamond retaliated by throwing behind Josh Hamilton, causing him and Ron Gardenhire to get ejected. The win was Ron Washington’s 500th.

Phillies 4, Reds 3: Extra innings and John Mayberry hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th inning to win it. The Phillies bullpen — maligned all year — threw five no-hit innings.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.