Stephen Strasburg

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Major League Baseball celebrated Otherwise Good Teams Get Shut Out Night last night. It was quite festive.

Marlins 9, Nationals 0: Look, maybe this will start a conversation no one thinks we’d ever have about an ace pitcher on a first place team, but maybe the Nationals should consider shutting Stephen Strasburg down (5 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER). That’s five straight losses for the Nats. Ricky Nolasco with the five-hit shutout.

Pirates 9, Cardinals 0: Pedro Alvarez hit two homers and drove in four. James McDonald pitched fantastically and the Cardinals were accused on the very pages of this blog of being “dipwads.”  Can’t say I disagree with that.

Rangers 1, Rays 0: Yu Darvish struck out ten over seven innings. The game’s only run came on an Ian Kinselr homer in the fourth.

Orioles 6, White Sox 0: Chris Tillman handled seven innings and Brian Matusz, relief pitcher, took it home for the final two. A Nick Markakis bases-clearing double in the second was all Baltimore would need. But they got three more anyway.

Braves 2, Padres 0: Overall the Padres aren’t an “otherwise good team” this year, but they certainly have been lately, so they fit Theme Night. Kris Medlen now has a scoreless innings streak of 28 and two-thirds. He’s easily Atlanta’s best starter right now, which is nothing anyone truly expected before the season started. Heck it was nothing anyone expected in late July. Oh, and he has a music video too. Nice muscles, Dan Uggla.

Athletics 7, Indians 0: This one doesn’t count as part of Theme Night, because they stink, but it is worth noting that the Indians haven’t scored in 22 innings and haven’t scored in 45 of their last 48 innings. They’ve lost 12 of 13. There are three teams with worse records than Cleveland, but really no one who feels as miserable as they do, day-in, day-out.  The A’s, meanwhile are rolling and stay atop the wild card standings, winners of 10 of 12.

Angels 6, Red Sox 5: What in the hell were you doing, Bobby Valentine?

Royals 9, Tigers 8: Wow, I would not have called “the Royals are gonna rock Justin Verlander for eight runs on 12 hits in five and two-thirds” if you gave me any odds on the planet. Just not what you want happening on a night when your division rivals lose and your ace is on the hill.

Yankees 2, Blue Jays 1: Phil Hughes allowed one run over seven innings. Rickey Romero lost his 11th straight, but at least this time he didn’t get shelled. Rafael Soriano locked down the save one day after he blew one in major fashion. Then he sat and held forth with the media about the great issues of the day. Quite the raconteur he is when he wants to be.

Brewers 4, Cubs 1: Jeff Bianchi hit a three-run homer early and that’s all the Brewers needed. OK, I’ll grant that the Cubs may feel as bad as Cleveland.

Mets 9, Phillies 5: Wait, I thought it was the Mets who were the ones who typically gave up 3+ runs in extra innings. So confusing. B.J. Rosenberg broke the heck down in the 10th, allowing an RBI double, an RBI single and a two-run homer. Kelly Shoppach hit the bomb and earlier drove in another with a double.

Mariners 5, Twins 2: Three driven in for Dustin Ackley on a homer. Hisashi Iwakuma allowed only one run — zero earned — in six. Then he handed it over to the capable hands of Oliver Perez. OK, Ollie only threw eight pitches so it didn’t matter. I just can’t get over the fact that he’s in the big leagues again.

Giants 3, Astros 2: The Giants were down 2-1 heading into the ninth, but it was rally time. Brandon Belt singled, Joaquin Arias doubled him in and then Hector Sanchez singled in Arias.

Rockies 8, Dodgers 4: All kinds of bad news. Another bad loss to the Rockies and, worse, the loss of Matt Kemp to a knee contusion and possible jaw problem. Wilin Rosario went 3 for 4 with a homer and three driven in. I bet you there are only, like, a dozen people outside Colorado who know that guy has 22 homers and his slugging .500.

Reds 5, Diamondbacks 2: Johnny Cueto wins his 17th, allowing two runs over seven.

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.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.