And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 5, Blue Jays 4: A battle of reigning Cy Young winners decided by a bases loaded walk to an Obama birther. Good times. I watched most of this one. Price and Dickey were OK, but not great. It was, like, the third straight home Rays game I’ve watched where Dick Vitale was noted in the crowd and discussed by the announcers. Does that happen every time, Rays fans?

Indians 9, Athletics 2: Welcome back Scott Kazmir. This wasn’t his first outing, but he certainly announced his return with authority against Oakland, striking out out ten batters in six innings and showing a velocity we haven’t seen in years.

Yankees 3, Rockies 1: Over two hours worth of rain delays meant that CC Sabathia couldn’t get the win, but he was certainly pitching well enough for it when the game got delayed. Five relievers shut out the Rockies for the remaining five innings.

Nationals 5, Tigers 4: The Nats have won four in a row. Dan Haren dodged a lot of bullets with the Tigers hitting the ball hard early, but they just hit ’em at people. At least until Matt Tuiasosopo hit a pinch-hit three-run homer. After that the bullpen locked it down. Detroit swept Atlanta two weeks ago and now get beat in both games of a two-game series to Washington. I’m going to assume this means the Tigers have money the Nats to win the N.L. East.

Royals 6, Orioles 2: The Royals avoid the sweep behind Jeremy Guthrie. He’s 5-0 with a 2.28 ERA. The Orioles probably wondered if this was the same Guthrie they traded away before last season.

Mets 3, Pirates 2: All Mike Baxter does is win games with late pinch hits. Well, he probably does other stuff, but he’s won games with late pinch hits twice this week. On Tuesday in the 10th inning against the White Sox and again here with a walkoff RBI single. And check out this home run, or at the very least double-robbing catch from Juan Lagares in the ninth.

Twins 5, Red Sox 3: Minnesota takes three of four from the team that had the majors’ best record when the series began. John Lackey’s throwing error on what should have been an inning-ending double play led to four unearned runs by the Twins in the sixth. If I was Lackey after the game I would have said something like “well, my defense really let me down today. Those were unearned runs, man. Not MY fault.” Then sat back in my locker and waited for questions, arms-crossed.

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 1: Patrick Corbin, best starter most people haven’t heard of yet. He’s 5-0 with a 1.75 ERA and outdueled Cole Hamles here. Four straight wins for Arizona.

Braves 6, Giants 3: A homer and two other hits and three driven in for Brian McCann. Craig Kimbrel with his 100th career save. He’s the second youngest to reach 100. K-Rod was the youngest. Here’s hoping that’s not some sort of omen for Kimbrel.

Angels 6, Astros 5: When a late game of lefty/righty matchups ensured, Bo Porter pulled one reliever for another without the first one ever facing a batter. Which is totally against the rules. Except the umpires didn’t realize it. Mike Scioscia tried his best to inform them of their and Porter’s error, but to no avail. He protested the game but the Angels won anyway. I sorta feel like the Astros should be allowed to do this given all the other problems they have but I suppose rules are rules.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.