And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 3, Reds 2: Aroldis Chapman is usually automatic. But he surrendered back-to-back bombs to the murderers row that is Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis as the Philly walked off Cincinnati. Heck, the inning started with Chapman walking Delmon Young on four straight pitches, so you know he wasn’t on it yesterday. And Cliff Lee probably needs to buy Galvis dinner: Lees pinch ran for Young and was caught stealing. If he hadn’t, Kratz’s homer wold have been enough. Galvis saved his bacon.

Cardinals 4, Brewers 2: The Cardinals beat old friend Kyle Lohse for the third straight time. After the game said “Baseball is a stupid game. Baseball is weird, man.” They should have sent a poet.

Rangers 11, Tigers 8: Three homers, five driven in and a 4 for 4 night for Miguel Cabrera are still not enough for the Tigers to beat Texas. The Rangers rapped 18 hits, scoring five runs of Doug Fister and six off the bullpen. Four driven in for David Murphy. I was back and forth into this game all evening as I did and watched other things. It seemed to last eleventeen hours.

Red Sox 5, Twins 1: This one featured a three-hour rain delay during which the fans who stayed got to see the movie “The Sandlot” in its entirety on the video board. Secondary game highlights included a nice start from John Lackey and homers from Dustin Pedroia and Will Middlebrooks.

Pirates 1, Astros 0: Jeff Locke shut out the Astros for seven innings. A solo shot from Pedro Alvarez in the fifth was all Pittsburgh needed. This one was the anti-Tigers-Rangers game, as it was done in a cool two hours and twenty-four minutes.

Rays 3, Orioles 1: I knew Matt Moore had pitched a great game the moment I learned that my girlfriend inadvertently left him on the bench on her fantasy team. There was much cursing and such. Moore’s seven strong innings ups him to 8-0 on the year.

Indians 6, Mariners 0: Justin Masterson struck out 11 in seven shutout innings and Cleveland roughed up Felix Hernandez for six runs (five earned) in five innings. The Tribe has won 17 of 21 and now lead the AL Central by two games.

Marlins 2, Diamondbacks 1: Ricky Nolasco adds to the parade of nice starts yesterday, striking out 11 in eight innings and helping the Marlins end their seven-game losing streak.

Mets 4, Cubs 3: When I was writing the Rangers recap I accidentally wrote “Daniel Murphy” instead of “David Murphy.” I would have likely left that mistake up there had I not looked at the box score of this one and been reminded that Daniel plays for the Mets and David for Texas. I think I’ve made that mistake a half dozen times in the past couple of years. Anyway, here Daniel batted leadoff and hit the tie-breaking homer in the eighth. The Mets won their first series at Wrigley in six years.

Rockies 5, Giants 0: Barry Zito being relatively good recently has probably made some forget how much of a disaster he was for several years. Putting him in Coors Field is a helpful reminder. Zito was touched for five runs on 11 hits in five and two-thirds. The Giants have lost five of six. Their rotation has gotten bombed lately and now has the third worst rotation ERA in the NL.

Padres 13, Nationals 4: Speaking of beat up starters, Dan Haren surrendered seven runs in five innings and overall the Padres did a Gashouse Gorillas conga line around the bases against Nats pitching getting the series split.

Braves 5, Dodgers 2: This game featured two hours of rain delays and the Dodgers bullpen failing to hold a lead for Matt Magill, who allowed only one unearned run in five innings. Atlanta didn’t hit a homer, which is kinda rare for them in a win.

Athletics 4, Royals 3: The Royals skid continues — they’ve lost ten of their last thirteen games and have sunk back to .500 — as Oakland sweeps ’em. Yoenis Cespedes singled and scored and hit a homer.

Angels 6, White Sox 2: Jake Peavy walked guys with the bases loaded twice. He walked five in all and allowed four runs on four hits. Which is weird because when you see a guy walk the bases loaded once, let along twice, it feels like he’s giving up, like, a dozen runs no matter what. Or maybe that’s just some weird hangup of mine about bases loaded walks.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees: POSTPONED: All at sea again. And now my hurricanes have brought down this ocean rain. To bathe me again. My ship’s a sail. Can you hear its tender frame? Screaming from beneath the waves. Screaming from beneath the waves. All hands on deck at dawn. Sailing to sadder shores. Your port in my heavy storms. Harbours the blackest thoughts. I’m at sea again. And now your hurricanes have brought down this ocean rain.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.