And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I looked at the schedule as I sat down to write this and noted that, even including the postponed game, there were only 14 games yesterday. Rays-A’s played Thursday-Saturday, leaving yesterday off to avoid conflicts with the Republican National Convention. Guess you couldn’t expect the RNC to compromise, so …

Anyway, it was weird and disorienting to see less than a full slate of games. Only thirteen thanks to the rain in Baltimore. Oh wells:

Phillies 4, Nationals 1: The sweep. With Cliff Lee pitching like Cliff Lee is supposed to pitch. Everyone’s having a lard at the Phillies season in the wilderness, but I think folks are gonna be in for a surprise next year when everyone’s healthy and they have Hamels/Lee/Halladay and a couple of good bats. It ain’t perfect, no, but that more than plays in the NL.

Brewers 7, Pirates 0: You hear that Mr. Hurdle?… That is the sound of inevitability… It is the sound of your death… Goodbye, Mr. Hurdle…

Braves 7, Giants 1: Tim Hudson allowed one over seven innings and, while it wasn’t an awful start, Tim Lincecum looked quite mortal allowing three over five. Back to back homers by Heyward and Freeman in the ninth were unnecessary piling on.

Cardinals 8, Reds 2: Four hits and four RBI for Matt Holliday, who has to be a part of the MVP conversation. Allen Craig homered and drove in three. The Cardinals are heating up. They’ve past the Pirates and, while still six back of the Reds, are looking dangerous.

Yankees 4, Indians 2: Curtis Granderson hit his 200th home run. Of all time, not in the game or the season, because those would be records. New York took two of three from lowly Cleveland, giving them a bit of breathing room over the Rays, who are four back.

Tigers 5, Angels 2: Back to back homers in the sixth by Prince Fielder and Delmon Young. Max Scherzer continued his recent good run, striking out nine in seven innings and winning his 14th. Mike Trout had a bad series. I note it only because I think it’s the first bad series he’s had all year.

Cubs 5, Rockies 0: Chris Volstad got his first win since, I think, the Carter administration. The game ended early due to rain. Gonna level with you: i’m having a hard time thinking about a Cubs game in Chicago, guys. For reasons that are best left unexplored but which have something to do with my girlfriend, I started watching that old TBS show “My Boys” over the weekend. The one with the female lead who covers the Cubs and has all the male friends and — based on two or three episodes anyway — looks like it’s gonna be some inside-out “Sex and the City” thing, albeit somewhat smarter. Upshot: the chick is pretty good looking, but all I keep thinking is how the people who really cover the Cubs look like Paul Sullivan. I can only suspend my disbelief so much, folks.  Oh, and I want the main character’s apartment.

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 4: Seven game winning streak for the Friars. They have swept the Diamondbacks in Arizona twice this year. A  three-man umpire crew officiated the game after crew chief Tim Tschida was scratched due to “personal medical reasons.” With the caveat that I will take this joke back if it turns out to actually be serious, I’m gonna assume he’s suffering from Little Donnie’s Disease.

Red Sox 8, Royals 6:  Pedro Ciriaco had three hits, scored twice and drove in two. James Loney had an RBI single. Wondering how long until the new car smell wears off the new look Sox and everyone starts to realize that, just because some guys no one likes are gone, the team isn’t any more fun to watch and certainly isn’t better.

Twins 6, Rangers 5: You can’t stop Ben Revere, you can only hope to contain him. Four hits for him, as the Twins broke a five-game losing streak.

Marlins 6, Dodgers 2: Four homers for the Marlins. Three in three games for Giancarlo Stanton. He had eight homers during the Marlins’ 11-game road trip.

Mets 2, Astros 1: Offensively, it was all Ike Davis, as he accounted for both Mets runs with homers, including the walkoff. Lucas Duda gunned a would-be runner out at home in the ninth to keep the game tied at 1.

White Sox 4, Mariners 3: Like the Cubs game, this one was called early — after seven — due to rain. Tyler Flowers’ game-winning homer came in just under the wire.

Blue Jays vs. Orioles: POSTPONED: As a man I ain’t never been much for sunny days. I’m as calm as a fruit stand in New York and maybe as strange. But when the color goes out of my eyes, it’s usually the change.  But damn Sam I love a woman that rains.

Evan Longoria: “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base.”

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The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.

Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.

Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”

Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.

The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.