Groundhog Day

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 1, Tigers 0: Jim Leyland was in the Virgin Islands once. He met a girl. they ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, they made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t he get that day over, and over, and over? Or, well, at least two out of three days. It’d be way better than 11-inning 1-0 losses constantly repeating.

Mets 3, Yankees 1: The Mets sweep the Yankees for the first time in Subway Series history. Dillon Gee struck out 12. The big question going forward: does this say more about the Mets or more about the Yankees?

Braves 11, Blue Jays 3: Ramiro Pena: run producer. Four RBI as he fills in for Dan Uggla. Jordan Schafer drove in two filling in for B.J. Upton. Evan Gattis went 3 for 4 and scored three times filling in for Jason Heyward. Team depth is something of a new concept for the Braves, but if the starters are going to continue to suck eggs, it’s a nice thing to have.

Red Sox 9, Phillies 2: Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and stole five bases — five! — off Erik Kratz and various Phillies pitchers. The team actually gave him a base after the game to honor the achievement. This came after a narrow team vote in favor of doing that rather than giving him Kratz’s head on a platter.

Giants 5, Athletics 2:  The Giants salvage one as Barry Zito got his first win in six starts. The Giants are now 7-0 when he pitches at AT&T Park and have won 13 of his home starts overall. Jon Heyman thinks it’s a shame that they can’t play all of their games there.

Indians 7, Reds 1: Clutch-sanity! Six straight two-out hits for the Indians gave them a seven-run fourth inning and, effectively, the ballgame. The Ohio teams split the series home and home. The Reds have dropped nine straight in Cleveland.

Mariners 7, Padres 1: Nick Franklin hit two homers, which were number one and number two of his career. Three other Mariners went deep, giving a demonstration of how differently Petco Park plays during the day. Felix Hernandez allowed only one run over eight innings.

Orioles 2, Nationals 0: Freddy Garcia tossed eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball on a hot and muggy day. Manny Machado had an RBI double. He’s got 25 freakin’ doubles already and is on pace for 75. He’s 20. Imagine this beast playing plus-defense at shortstop and hitting those doubles a tad higher and farther as he fills out.

Cubs 8, White Sox 3: Odd players achieving strange home run feats is the new inefficiency. On Wednesday a backup catcher hit three homers. Yesterday a pitcher — Travis Wood — hit a grand slam. Cubs pitchers have driven in 19 RBI in the month of May.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 5: Justin Grimm continues to roll along, giving up two earned runs in six innings. Brandon McCarthy had allowed only one run in 24 innings entering this one but the Rangers beat him up for six runs on nine hits in two and two-thirds.

Astros 7, Rockies 5: The game story said the Astros swept the Rockies “in this two-game series.” I thought of this week as teams having four-game series against one another, just split over two parks. The fact that the Mets were described as sweeping the Yankees and the Giants win yesterday was described as them “salvaging one” I figured everyone else was on board with this too. Oh well.

Royals 4, Cardinals 2: Kansas City rallies for three runs in the ninth to come from behind, snapping an eight-game losing streak. I presume this is all George Brett’s doing. The Royals got only four hits all game, but he told them to bunch ’em up in the ninth. There was a nearly five hour rain delay before during the ninth inning, so I’m sure that’s when he told them to get some hits. Hitting coaches are funny that way. For St. Louis: Michael Wacha had a stellar debut, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings.

Angels 3, Dodgers 2: A split in the Freeway Series. I know that Hardees/Carl’s Jr. and Edy’s/Dreyer’s ice cream use different names on each side of the Mississippi. Where is the “freeway-expressway” split? I feel like it’s much farther west than that. Anyone?

Twins 8, Brewers 6: Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier and Ryan Doumit all hit homers on a night when the wind was blowing out.  Six straight losses for Milwaukee.

Rays 5, Marlins 2: The other day when I compared the Marlins and the 1962 Mets — the Mets had a better record through this point of the season than the Marlins do — I noted that there was room to make it up as the Mets had multiple extended losing streaks in front of them. The longest one I saw, however, was 11. The Marlins are now up to nine. I like the way they’re trying to get on top of this thing and salt the worst record in the history of baseball away early. That’s the kind of drive and gumption that team they had last year with all of its overpriced stars never would have shown.

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.