Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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These were the last baseball games that count — despite the claim about the All-Star Game counting, which is certainly does not in any real sense — until Friday. That’s some b.s. right there. Why don’t they play the All-Star Game with only 25 guys on a team and let the rest of the league play regular games with each team a player or two shorthanded at most? Fine, you say that’s unfair? Well, so is deciding home field advantage in the World Series based on a dumb exhibition game, but we do that. Don’t tell me about fair.

Anyway, I’m in New York. I took in the Futures Game yesterday. More about that later, as well as some posts from on the scene at the All-Star Game. For now, though, here’s what went on in places where the games actually mattered:

Tigers 5, Rangers 0: A good reason not to hang around press boxes: when Justin Verlander had a no-hitter into the seventh yesterday, a bunch of baseball writers at the Futures Game openly hoped he wouldn’t get a no-hitter because that would require them to do more work or different work or something. That’s just kind of depressing, even if it’s understandable in a very narrow way.

Phillies 4, White Sox 3: John Mayberry hit the game-winning single in the tenth and with it the Phillies won their ninth in their past 13. Like half the teams that played yesterday, someone gave quotes about how maybe this one will give them momentum going into the second half. Assignment desk: someone look at the second half records of teams which won the final game before the All-Star break over the past, I dunno, decade. Let’s see if this momentum is real!

Nationals 5, Marlins 2: A three-run tenth wins it for the Nats, and with it ends a three-game losing streak and averts the sweep by the Marlins. Many teams are worse than the Nationals. Not many are more happy to see the first half end. Expectations are a hell of a thing.

Indians 6, Royals 4: Can’t kill this Cleveland thing. Detroit beat the tar out of them last weekend and then they come back and win two of three from the Jays and sweep the Royals. One and a half back somehow.

Reds 8, Braves 4: Jay Bruce with three hits including a two-run homer. Freddie Freeman sat out because of jammed thumb that will keep him out of the All-Star Game. Guess that Final Vote was a whole lot of wasted effort, eh? Just a total bloodbath series for the Braves. Freeman, Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and B.J. Upton were all injured during this series.

Twins 10, Yankees 4: Thus endeth the ugliest half season (and then some) of baseball in the Bronx in a long time. Errors and ineffectiveness gave the Twins their first win over CC Sabathia in six years.

Mets 4, Pirates 2: Dillon Gee allowed one unearned run in six and two-thirds. Three runs for the Mets in the first ended up being enough. They kept showing highlights of this on the jumbotron at Citi Field during the Futures Game. It got bigger cheers than a lot of what went on at the Futures Game.

Orioles 7, Blue Jays 4: Lots of people are parroting the fact that Chris Davis set a record by tying the AL mark for most homers prior to the All-Star break. Not many are pointing out that the Orioles have played 96 games before the All-Star Break which is an awful lot and which can in no technically accurate way be referred to as the first “half.” Still, he’s hit a lot of homers and that’s cool.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 1: Nothing to do with this game but on the media shuttle bus on the way back to the city yesterday I heard a lot of good stories about Vin Scully. Behind the scenes stories which would make you laugh given how Scully has sort of been made into a demi-god over the past several years. Nothing which undermines all that is good about him or which makes him a bad person in any way, shape or form, but stories which humanize the guy a bit and remind one that he is, after all, a human being with a sense of humor and some real world foibles and things. One in which he dropped an F-bomb, which is absolutely hilarious to me. Though I’m sure it was the most melodically-dropped F-bomb ever. Michael Cuddyer hit a homer here. Guess I get to live the lifelong dream of seeing Michael Cuddyer hit in the Home Run Derby tomorrow.

Rays 5, Astros 0: The Rays won for the 14th time in their last 16 behind Chris Archer’s five-hit shutout. The Rays are 2.5 back of the Red Sox and probably didn’t want the All-Star Break to arrive.

Padres 10, Giants 1: Get no-hit on Saturday, rap out 12 hits on Sunday in the course of scoring ten. Barry Zito only lasted two innings. Carlos Quentin drove in three.

Athletics 3, Red Sox 2: Brandon Workman took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his first big league start. Ends up with a no decision as Josh Donaldson hit a two-run homer off him. Donaldson added the game-winning RBI single in the 11th. Dude is sitting at .310/.379/.522 with sixteen homers but isn’t an All-Star. Remember that the next time someone complains about life being unfair.

Brewers 5, Diamondbacks 1: Wily Peralta allowed only one run in seven and the Brewers snapped their four-game losing streak. They can now spend the break thinking about all the new losing streaks they’ll start in the second half.

Mariners 4, Angels 3: Seattle sweeps the Angels. Correction about the Nats and their expectations ruining their first half. The Angels have ’em beat by a mile in this regard.

Cardinals, 10, Cubs 6: A four-spot in the ninth by the Cardinals – including a three-run homer from Yadier Molina — officially ends the first half. Or two thirds. Or whatever we want to call it. For those of you keeping score at home, Allen Craig actually put them ahead with an RBI single before the homer. He did so even for those of you not keeping score at home.

Cardinals, Dexter Fowler agree to a five-year, $82 million deal

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the seventh inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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The Cardinals have officially signed outfielder Dexter Fowler to a five-year, $82.5 million contract. Fowler will also get a full no-trade clause.

The Cardinals gave Fowler a bigger deal than many speculated he’d get, as some reports predicted he’d get something in the $52-72 million range. His skills, however — he’s a fantastic leadoff hitter who plays a premium defensive position — definitely earned him some major dough. Fowler hit .276/.393/.447 with 13 homers, 48 RBI and 13 steals over 125 games in 2016 for the World Series champion Cubs.

For the Cardinals, this will allow Matt Carpenter to move down to the middle of the batting order and will shift Randal Grichuk to left field. It also takes a prime piece from the Cardinals’ biggest rival. For their part, earlier this offseason the Cubs signed former Cardinal center fielder Jon Jay. So that’s fun.

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.