Jim Johnson, Taylor Teagarden

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 5, White Sox 3: Zach Britton strikes out ten, gets sent down to the minors. That’s fair. That aside, heady freakin’ times for the Orioles who, apart from the Yankees fans, I think everyone on the planet is wanting to sweep New York and make the AL East a dead heat by Sunday night. Viva chaos.

Cubs 12, Brewers 11: Jonathan Lucroy drove in seven runs for Milwaukee — his second seven-RBI game of the season — but the Cubs still won. Total bullpen meltdown, capped with a K-Rod blown save on a day when Axford was unavailable. I was shocked to see that driving in seven in a losing cause is not terribly uncommon. Indeed, he was the fourth player in the past five years to do it, joining immortals like Jose Guillen.

Mariners 5, Twins 4:  Look at the Mariners go. They’re not gonna finish at .500. They’re certainly not gonna make the playoffs. But they’ve played respectable baseball all year and are finishing strong. If you’re not gonna win, at least be respectable and competitive every night out, and that’s what Seattle is doing.

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Hustlegate. I can’t think of a former MVP who has found himself at this place in his career like Rollins has, but that’s where he is. I don’t even know what to think about it. Except that I think there are 20 teams and maybe more who would love to have a non-hustling Jimmy Rollins as their shortstop.

Athletics 12, Indians 7: The AP gamer referred to the Indians as “free falling.” I think that’s an insult to parachutists, who at least have a plan about where they’re heading. The A’s continue to lead the AL wild card race.

Blue Jays 2, Rays 0: A two run double in the first was all Toronto needed as they had Carlos Villanueava pitch six shutout innings with three innings of blanks from the bullpen.

Nationals 8, Cardinals 1: For a team whose calling card has been offense all season, the Cardinals’ recent offensive drought has to be somewhat concerning, no? They went 28 innings without scoring a run before the eighth inning of this one, and that came after everything was more or less decided. Another homer for Bryce Harper and ten strikeouts over eight shutout innings from Edwin Jackson.

Royals 2, Tigers 1: Now it’s three things that would-be playoff teams don’t do: Lose Justin Verlander starts, lost to Bruce Chen and lose to Jeremy Guthrie. Basically, you can’t get the tar knocked out of you by the Kansas City Royals is what I’m saying.  I don’t think I’m declaring the Tigers dead yet, but the patient is in dire shape.

Giants 8, Astros 4: Bad luck and worse luck, all on one play — and a late collapse blowing a 4-0 lead — pretty much sums up the 2012 Astros.

Angels 5, Red Sox 2: Boston goes 0 for 2012 against the Angels. The AP gamer described Zack Greinke as “unintimidating but effective” in this one. I plan on filing a lawsuit later today because that was the working title of my autobiography.

Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 0: Kennedy pitched shutout, two-hit ball for six and a third. Chris Young hit a two-run homer. The Dbacks take their seventh straight from the Dodgers. If L.A. falls short this year, not beating the Dbacks as much as they should will be a good reason.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.