Tampa Bay Rays v Texas Rangers

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 6, Rays 5: Adrian Beltre was last week’s player of the week after hitting for the cycle one night and hitting three bombs on another. He’s off to a good start for that award again, going 3 for 3 with a homer a double and four RBI. David Price had one of his worst outings of the season (4 IP, 10 H, 6 ER).

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: Also continuing his hot streak: Matt Holliday. He hit his 24th homer, breaking a 2-2 tie in the sixth. The Pirates have dropped six of their last seven. Are we allowed to talk about them playing to break the streak of sub-.500 seasons yet, or do we still have to act like they’re in the wild card hunt?

Mariners 1, Twins 0: Felix Hernandez is ridiculously good (CG SHO, 5 H, 5K). Later this morning we’ll hear more about how the Yankees should trade for him. His fifth shutout of the year, by the way. Tough luck loss for Liam Hendricks who allowed one run over nine innings.

Athletics 3, Indians 0: Brett Anderson’s return continues to be stellar. He shut the Tribe out over seven, allowing only two hits. Oakland has won 9 of 11.

Padres 3, Braves 0: Casey Kelly’s major league debut: fantasitc (6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). He also hit a single. I think it’s now officially safe to say, if it wasn’t already, that the Padres won the first Adrian Gonzalez trade. Yasmani Grandal accounted for all of the Padres’ runs, with a homer and a single. San Diego has won eight straight.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 7: Colby Rasmus put his hair in some seriously stupid looking cornrows recently. He took them out before this game, however, and hit a three run homer with two outs in the ninth to put the Blue Jays in front. There’s a lesson in there for you kids. Of course, Derek Jeter tied it in the bottom half, so there’s a lesson in there too. Basically, just don’t be a total douche and instead be a professional and good things will happen. In extras, Derek Lowe threw a ball away putting the go-ahead run on third, which eventually scored. Darren Oliver beats Derek Lowe, because it’s 1999 or something. Oh, and Mark Teixeira left with a calf strain and he’s gonna miss a couple of weeks.

Orioles 4, White Sox 3: Baltimore wins another one-run game their 13th straight. And Nate McLouth hit a two-run homer. They should be called the Batlimore Oh Reallys?

Red Sox 5, Royals 1: Dice-K with his first win since the Cold War or thereabouts. Forgive me if I assume this had more to do with the Royals bats than Matsuzaka’s skillz.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 0: Josh Beckett’s debut for the Dodgers looked a lot like most of his starts for the Red Sox. Inefficient, deliberate and, while not a total disaster, not particularly effective either. Didn’t matter much, though, given that Jeff Francis and the bullpen didn’t allow a run. And even if they had, the Dodgers’ pen got violated for seven runs in the eighth.

Brewers 15, Cubs 4: Five homers for the Brewers including two from Aramis Ramirez. Ryan Braun had four hits and drove in five.

Reds 3, Diamondbacks 2: Bronson Arroyo pitched well and hit a home run to put the Reds ahead. Sometimes you gotta do everything yourself.

Shocker: Bruce Bochy tabs Madison Bumgarner to start Opening Day

Madison Bumgarner
AP Photo/Ben Margot
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You might want to sit down for this news. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has tabbed ace Madison Bumgarner to start on Opening Day in Milwaukee against the Brewers, CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic reports. Shocking, I know.

The Giants had a busy offseason, adding Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to the starting rotation, but neither had a shot at getting the Opening Day nod considering what Bumgarner has done for the Giants over the last five seasons.

Since the start of the 2011 season, the 26-year-old lefty compiled a 3.05 ERA with 1,034 strikeouts and 239 walks across 1,050 innings. Among starters who logged at least 800 innings in that span of time, only Clayton Kershaw, Cueto, Zack Greinke, David Price, and Felix Hernandez have posted lower ERAs.  And Bumgarner is the only one among them with a championship ring. In fact, he has three.

Tony Clark is not happy so many players remain unsigned

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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We’re almost halfway through February. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training soon. And yet, there are more than a handful of solid free agents that remain unsigned. Among them: Yovani Gallardo, Ian Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. All three have draft pick compensation tied to them, as each rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from his respective former team. That, undoubtedly, is a reason why they haven’t inked a contract yet.

MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark is unhappy about this reality and expects to discuss potential changes when the next collective bargaining agreement is negotiated. The current CBA expires after the 2016 season. Per the Associated Press, Clark said last week, “I think it’s disappointing when there are as many talented players still without a home. I don’t think it’s in anyone’s best interest to be in a world where very talented players are at home for whatever reason they are there. It will likely be a part of the conversation in bargaining.”

Clark also mentioned, among other things, the possibility of a draft lottery, which would take away the incentive for teams to “tank”, or lose on purpose. The Astros and Phillies have notably done this in recent years, finishing with baseball’s worst record and thus netting the #1 overall draft pick.

These are, however, simply two items of many that will be discussed during the upcoming offseason. It will be interesting to see what solutions are eventually put in place.

Michael Pineda hopes to reach 200-inning mark for first time

New York Yankees' Michael Pineda delivers a pitch during the third inning of a baseball game against the Chicago White Sox on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
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It was reported on Friday that Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka isn’t sure if he’ll be ready for Opening Day as he makes his way back from arthroscopic surgery to remove a bone spur from his right elbow. His health will be crucial to the Yankees’ chances this season, but the same goes for rotation-mate Michael Pineda, who hopes that this is the year he’ll be able to take on the workload of a frontline starter.

Pineda was on pace for a career-high in innings last season, but he landed on the disabled list in late July with a right flexor forearm muscle strain and missed a month. He struggled upon his return and ended up with 160 2/3 innings, so he fell short of his career-high of 171 innings as a rookie with the Mariners way back in 2011. Now going into his age-27 season, Pineda told Bryan Hoch of MLB.com that his goal for 2016 is to reach 200 innings for the first time in his career.

“For me, this year, I’m coming here early to be strong and working hard to pitch 200 innings this year,” Pineda said at the club’s Minor League complex. “I want to throw 200 innings this year. This is my goal, and help my team.”

Pineda had a mediocre 4.37 ERA (90 ERA+) last season despite impressive peripherals with 8.7 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9. Among pitchers with at least 160 innings pitched, only Bartolo Colon of the Mets had a lower walk percentage. Pineda managed to increase his ground ball rate to 48.2 percent and also saw an uptick in velocity from 2014, so there’s reason to believe in improvement if he can stay healthy.

Brewers GM: Acquiring Jacob Nottingham doesn’t change Jonathan Lucroy’s status

Jonathan Lucroy
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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The Brewers acquired prospects Jake Nottingham and Bubba Derby from the Athletics on Friday in exchange for slugging outfielder Khris Davis. The hope is that Nottingham will develop into the Brewers’ catcher of the future, so you could say that the club is planning for life after Jonathan Lucroy. However, Brewers general manager David Stearns said today that the trade doesn’t change Lucroy’s immediate status.

The Brewers are in rebuild-mode and Lucroy is an excellent trade chip if healthy, as his contract includes a $5.25 million club option for 2017. It’s likely just a matter of time before he’s shipped elsewhere, but yesterday’s trade shouldn’t change the timeline for a potential deal. Nottingham doesn’t turn 21 until April and has yet to play in Double-A, so he’s still a ways off from the majors. The Brewers can afford to wait on the right offer for Lucroy, whether it’s in spring training or at the trade deadline or perhaps later.

Checking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, Nottingham batted .316/.372/.505 with 17 home runs over 109 games last season between Class A and High-A. He was traded from the Astros to the Athletics as part of the Scott Kazmir deal last July. It’s worth noting that Stearns was the assistant GM for Houston when Nottingham was drafted in the sixth round back in 2013, so he’s clearly a fan.