New York Mets v Atlanta Braves

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 2, Mets 1: A three-hour and fifty-two minute rain delay? Really? Despite that, Dillon Gee shut the Braves out through eight and a third and drove in the Mets’ only run. And despite that he gave up a walkoff two-run homer to Freddie Freeman just before 1:30 AM. Now they play a day-night doubleheader. Expect many yawns.

Tigers 5, Orioles 1: Max Scherzer is now 10-0 as he struck out ten Orioles in six innings of work. The biggest coming against Chris Davis with the bases loaded in the top of the fifth and home plate umpire Tim Timmons apparently trying to make a point about the randomness of nature and strike zones. Blew a couple of 96-97 m.p.h. fastballs by the AL home run leader.

Blue Jays 2, Rockies 0: Josh Johnson tossed seven and a third five-hit shutout innings fanning 10 and the Jays won their sixth straight. A week ago Monday they were at their nadir, 12 games back in the AL East. They’re not close now — 8.5 back — but that’s a decent gain in a short amount of time. Worth watching.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 4: Yadier Molina had two hits including a two-run double to raise his average to .355, which is nutso. Shelby Miller threw five shutout innings and then left with leg cramps. Bananas, Shelby. Eat more bananas. Trust me on this one.

Royals 2, Indians 1: The Royals get to .500 and move into second place, taking their 11th win in 13 games. Victory here came when the go-ahead run scored from third base on a wild pitch by reliever Matt Albers in the ninth.

Phillies 5, Nationals 4: Jonathan Papelbon vultures a win, blowing his first save of the season but giving up a two-out, two-strike homer to Chad Tracy, then but notching the win when Domonic Brown hit a two-out walkoff single in the bottom of the ninth. Off Fernando Abad, because one cannot use a closer in a tie game on the road, even if one is Davey Johnson, apparently.

Reds 4, Pirates 1: Homers from Zach Cozart, Todd Frazier, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce. Bruce has three homers in his last five games. The Reds stay a game and a half ahead of Pittsburgh for second place. They are off to their best start in 18 years.

Rangers 8, Athletics 7: Texas breaks its six-game hitting streak behind two Nelson Cruz homers and five and a third one-run innings from the bullpen following Nick Tepesch’s poor start. The AP gamer frames this as the Rangers responding to Ron Washington’s pep talk during a closed-door meeting on Sunday. If closed-door meetings worked that way managers would have them every day, yes?

Marlins 3, Diamondbacks 2: Giancarlo Stanton vs. Paul Goldschmidt. Each accounted for all of his team’s runs. Goldschmidt’s came on a solo homer and an RBI singleStanton’s, however, game on two homers which drove in three. Stanton’s second homer was the 100th of his career. The Marlins had three hits total.

White Sox 4, Astros 2: Chicago avoids a sweep in this wraparound series. All the Sox’ runs came in the sixth, topped with a Dayan Viciedo bases-loaded triple.

Angels 11, Mariners 3: Albert Pujols and Alberto Callaspo each had four hits and Josh Hamilton had a two-run homer. They rattled off 21 hits in all, their most in four years. Just like they drew it up, huh?

Padres 5, Giants 3: Seven wins in a row for the Pads, this one coming in 13 innings, with the tie-breaking run coming on an Andrew Cashner pinch-hit bunt. The Giants thought they had this one won in the 12th when Juan Perez drove one to the warning track but Will Venable made a fantastic diving catch.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.