Kansas City Royals v New York Yankees

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 8, Royals 4: Jeter returns. And got a hit! And an RBI! And scored a run! And left with a strained quadricep! Oy vey.

Braves 6, Reds 5: Freddie Freeman wins the Final Vote than goes out and has himself a nice night (3 for 4, 4 RBI). Bad news, though: Jason Heyward left with a strained hamstring.

Phillies 3, Nationals 1: And the Phillies take three of four from the Nats. This after winning series against the Braves and Pirates. Now they have the White Sox leading up to the break. It feels like they’re doing better. They’re not gaining much ground on Atlanta, however. They’ve been back eight or nine games at times this year, but 7.5 games back is basically where they’ve been hovering forever now. It’s hard to dig out of a hole.

Indians 4, Blues Jays 2: Rookie Danny Salazar was most impressive, pitching six innings while allowing only one run on two hits and striking out seven. He’s proof that you can ply your trade in Columbus, Ohio and then, one day, make it to the big time.

Rays 4, Twins 3: That’s eight straight for the streaking Rays. And the 13th win of the year for Matt Moore, who struck out ten in seven and a third innings. Luke Scott, who has been hot in his own right of late, hit a homer.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 0: The good Edwin Jackson showed up and tossed seven shutout innings. All three of the Cubs runs were batted in by Anthony Rizzo. Matt Holliday joined Jason Heyward in the left-the-game-early-because-of-a-hamstring club.

Diamondbacks 5, Brewers 3: Wade Miley gave the snakes what they needed: a long outing following a 14-inning game. He pitched eight and the Diamondbacks snapped their three-game skid.

White Sox 6, Tigers 3: There was some bench-clearing action after some purpose pitches but nothing too chippy went down. Josh Phegley hit a grand slam and Chris Sale finally broke his string of winless starts, getting the first real run support he’s had in a dog’s age.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: The Dodgers are now above .500 after Chris Capuano tossed six shutout innings and Mark Ellis drove in four. That’s 16 of 20 for the men in blue. Well, mostly white with a splash of blue. There’s a touch of red in there too. The men in blue are umpires, really. Although I think it’s way more black these days than blue. Man, it’s hard to keep track of such things.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 7: Seattle took a 5-1 lead but the Sox came back and eventually forced extras. This is not to be confused with Tuesday’s game in which they also found themselves down 5-1 and won.

Giants 4, Padres 2: Madison Bumgarner: stopper. For the third straight time he came out with the Giants on a four-game losing streak and won. I guess when your team is terrible overall it’s easier to be seen as a “stopper.” Pitch for the Cardinals or Red Sox or something and there isn’t all that much to stop.

Orioles 3, Rangers 1: Chris Davis hit his 34th homer and drove in his 86th run. His home run snapped an 0 for 17 slump. He went on to strike out twice after the homer, though.

Jose Bautista: “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since famous bat flip

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Texas Rangers during the seventh inning in Game 5 of baseball's American League Division Series, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015 in Toronto. (Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP
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Arguably the most memorable moment of the 2015 season came in the seventh inning of Game 5 of the ALDS between the Blue Jays and Rangers. The game was tied 3-3, but the Jays were threatening with runners on the corners and two outs. Jose Bautista launched a 1-1 Sam Dyson fastball for a no-doubt tie-breaking three-run home run that would send the Jays into the ALCS to face the eventual world champion Royals.

Bautista didn’t immediately run to first base after hitting the home run. He admired it, looked at Dyson, and then flipped his bat triumphantly. As far as bat flips go, it was a 10 out of 10. Yasiel Puig was proud.

The six-time All-Star admitted “I haven’t had to” pay for a meal in Toronto since that moment in the ALDS, as Jonah Birenbaum notes for The Score. Bautista also served as the assistant coach for musician Drake at the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game. As Drew noted earlier, Bautista had a pretty nice view at the NBA Slam Dunk Contest as well.

The Jays are hopeful to sign Bautista, 35, to a multi-year extension. In six seasons since breaking out with the club in 2010, he has hit .268/.390/.555 with 227 home runs and 582 RBI in 3,604 plate appearances. No one has hit more home runs since the start of the 2010 season, as Miguel Cabrera is the closest at 199. And only Cabrera, Adrian Gonzalez, Robinson Cano, and Albert Pujols have driven in more runs in that span of time. It’s easy to see why, despite his age, the Jays want to keep Bautista around a little while longer.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros did talk long-term contract

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Dallas Keuchel‘s agent Darek Braunecker told MLB Network Radio in early January that he had not engaged in any long-term contract negotiations with the Astros’ front office. Two weeks later, the sides reached a one-year, $7.25 million agreement, avoiding a salary arbitration hearing. So was a bigger financial commitment ever discussed?

Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle has the answer, writing in his offseason review that the “Astros and Keuchel have had substantial talks about extensions [this winter] … but to no avail.”

Keuchel carries all the leverage in the world after winning the 2015 American League Cy Young Award with a 2.48 ERA, 1.017 WHIP, and 216/51 K/BB ratio in 232 innings. He also made three appearances in the postseason to a 2.57 ERA in 14 frames.

Keuchel’s $7.25 million salary for 2016 will be a record for a player in his first year of arbitration eligibility. Locking up some of his free agent years (2019, 2020, 2021, etc.) would likely take a commitment of $120 million or more.

Houston has the 28-year-old left-hander under contractual control through 2018, and it sounds like the plan is to go season-to-season with his salaries.

He’ll remain a huge value to a good-looking Astros team.

Yadier Molina gets cast removed from surgically-repaired thumb

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Yadier Molina underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right thumb shortly after the Cardinals were eliminated from the NLDS by the Cubs, and then he needed a followup procedure two months later.

It’s been an offseason of rest and rehab for the seven-time All-Star and eight-time Gold Glover, though he’s about ready to ramp up the intensity of workouts with the beginning of spring training approaching …

Brayan Pena was signed to a two-year, $5 million free agent contract this winter to provide more reliable depth behind the plate. He’ll be the Cardinals’ starter at catcher come Opening Day if Yadi isn’t quite ready.

Molina started a whopping 131 games behind the plate in 2015.

Jose Fernandez wants $30 million a year, Marlins don’t plan on paying

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You’ve heard the stories by now. Jose Fernandez does not get along with Marlins management and is doubtful to sign a long-term contract with the team.

There’s still time for those relationships to be repaired — Fernandez can’t become a free agent until after the 2018 season — but we also have a monetary issue at play.

Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes Sunday that the Marlins are “under the impression” Fernandez and his representatives want $30 million per year on a long-term deal, a figure the Marlins “have no plans to meet.”

If the Marlins won’t pay, Fernandez and his reps will seek that number when the ace right-hander reaches free agency. That could be the same offseason Bryce Harper tries for $500 million.

A friend of Fernandez told Jackson that the 23-year-old native of Cuba was upset about some of the trades the Marlins made last summer and the removal of pitching coach Chuck Hernandez. You probably heard talk of Miami shopping Fernandez this winter, but the asking price was predictably sky-high.

Fernandez has been limited to 19 starts over the last two years because of Tommy John surgery and a biceps injury, but he boasts a stellar 2.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and 10.5 K/9 in 289 career major league frames. He will make $2.8 million in 2016 and carries two more years of arbitration eligibility.

If he can put together a run of 30-start, 200-inning seasons, Fernandez will get that $30 million per year and probably much more.