Kansas City Royals v Detroit Tigers

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and hightlights

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Royals 8, Tigers 3: You can try to make Phil Coke a multi-inning reliever all you want, but he’s still going to be a lefty specialist. And when he comes in and has trouble even getting the lefties out, you can’t stick with him. He’s not the one who gave up the grand slam to Alex Gordon, but he set the stage. Well, that and Jim Leyland intentionally walking Jeff Francouer, but the outcome was all but set when that happened. We were just waiting for it to finish playing out.

Pirates 6, Phillies 4: Hey, did you realize that Pittsburgh was 13-9? It’s true. They’re winners of 10 of 13. Gaby Sanchez homered and drove in three. The Phillies dropped their first home series against the Pirates in over a decade.

Red Sox 7, Astros 2: Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL David Ortiz! The Sox’ DH was 3 for 4 with a homer and an RBI single. He’s 11 for 20 since coming off the DL. Clay Buchholz struck out ten while pitching into the eighth. Daniel Bard made his 2013 debut, striking out one in a scoreless inning. Oh, and alert the media and/or relevant first responders: Rick Ankiel drew a walk. His first of the year.

Dodgers 3, Mets 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu had a nice performance, holding the Mets to one run on three hits in seven innings while striking out eight. Andre Ethier broke a 1-1 tie in the ninth with an RBI single, followed up by Juan Uribe putting the Dodgers ahead with a single of his own.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: Robinson Cano, Vernon Wells and Frankie Cervelli went deep. The Yankees were down 3-0 early, but Hiroki Kuroda settled down after that and waited for the bats to boom. A record low crowd for Yankee Stadium. Which is kind of a shame, actually. This Yankees team isn’t what people are accustomed to, but it’s kinda cool seeing contributions from different faces and names in pinstripes. If nothing else, people should be bearing witness to a resurrection: Vernon Wells is hitting .293/.361/.587 with six homers on the year.

Nationals 8, Reds 1: If the bats are gonna sleep, it’s up to the pitchers. That’s what Gio Gonzalez must’ve figured, as he allowed only one hit — a Joey Votto solo shot — in eight innings. Except the bats did show up, actually, with the Nats rattling off a dozen hits, including a Danny Espinosa two-run homer and RBI double. Denard Span drove in three as well.

White Sox 5, Rays 2: Chris Sale walked four dudes, but allowed only two runs and four hits in seven innings. Adam Dunn homered. Life is more fun when Adam Dunn homers. He’s now hitting a crisp .108 on the year.

Cubs 4, Marlins 3: It’s 2013. Terrorism, war and ecological destruction ravage the planet. Still, I’m gonna offer that a Cubs-Marlins series is the worst thing affecting humankind at the moment. Luis Valbuena hit the go-ahead homer in the ninth. Afterwards he said “Ninth inning, two outs, I tried to hit a home run. I didn’t want to play extra innings.” I don’t think any of us wanted to see it either, Luis. Give that man a humanitarian award.

Rangers 2, Twins 1: Nick Tepesch allowed five hits in six and two-thirds, with a solo homer to Josh Willingham the only blight on the box score. The Twins’ best chance to get even or better ended, however, when Willingham hit into a bases-loaded double play in the eighth. Selah.

Diamondbacks 3, Rockies 2: Paul Goldschmidt with a two-run homer helped a not-great but good enough Trevor Cahill, who notched his first W of the year.

Orioles 10, Athletics 2: Nate McLouth singled, doubled, walked and drove in two. Chris Davis homered. Adam Jones had three hits. All nine starters got a hit and six different O’s drove in a run. The A’s have dropped six of seven.

Mariners 6, Angels 0: The Mariners’ sleepy bats woke up. Including Carlos Peguero’s, whose bat hit a 450+ foot homer, adjudged the third longest in Safeco Field history. Kyle Saeger has a 14 game hitting streak. As for Anaheim, I’m not wishing any ill-happenings for anyone, but I’m still liking my “Mike Scioscia is the first manager fired this year” prediction.

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.

Joe Panik says he’s “100 percent” recovered from back injury

San Francisco Giants second baseman Joe Panik follows through on a single off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Scott Oberg in the eighth inning of Game 1 of a baseball doubleheader Saturday, May 23, 2015, in Denver. The Giants won 10-8. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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Giants second baseman Joe Panik missed nearly all of August and September last season due to a nagging back injury, but he told Alex Pavlovic of CSNBayArea.com on Friday that he’s feeling “100 percent.”

Panik, who earned his first All-Star selection last season, originally landed on the disabled list in early August due to what was described as lower back inflammation. He made his return in September, but appeared in just three games before being shut down. The good news is that he was cleared by doctors in mid-December and considers himself “back to normal.”

“It was right around the time of all the signings,” he said, smiling. “I was able to fly under the radar. I got tested and everything had healed up. I got cleared and was able to have my full offseason workouts. I’m good to go. I’m happy to be feeling good and going back out on the field to show that I’m healthy. My swing feels strong.”

Panik altered his offseason workout routine and plans to spend less time in his spikes in the early part of spring training. The hope is that these changes will prevent future issues.

After a strong showing as a rookie in 2014, the 25-year-old Panik proved to be one of the best second baseman in the majors last season by batting .312/.378/.455 with eight home runs and 37 RBI over 100 games while playing solid defense.

Baseball America names Corey Seager as baseball’s top prospect

Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager follows through a single that scored Austin Barnes, in front of Colorado Rockies' Wilin Rosario during the sixth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Danny Moloshok)
AP Photo/Danny Moloshok
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Baseball America unveiled their top 100 prospect list Friday night during a special on MLB Network. It should come as no surprise that Dodgers infielder Corey Seager came in at No. 1.

This makes Seager the consensus top prospect in the game. He was also ranked first by MLB.com, Baseball Prospectus, and ESPN’s Keith Law. Twins outfielder Byron Buxton was ranked second on all four lists.

Baseball America has the most aggressive ranking of Cuban infielder Yoan Moncada from the Red Sox, who checked in at No. 3. He was followed by pitching prospects Lucas Giolito from the Nationals and Julio Urias from the Dodgers to round out the top five.

You can see Baseball America’s full top 100 list here.