Bryce Harper

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 9, Pirates 7: This could have been an awful, awful defeat, what with the Nats bullpen once again pooping all over itself. At least I’m assuming it would have been a defeat. The game was tied entering the bottom of the ninth. Thanks to Bryce Harper’s walkoff homer, however, we don’t know how extras would’ve gone had they been required. Though I’m guessing after the stretch the Nats have been on, Nats fans have a gut feeling.

Yankees 2, Rangers 0: Hiroki Kuroda does his part to blow some fresh air into the A-Rod-funkified Yankees Universe. Wait, the universe is mostly the vacuum of space, so there can be no air, clean or otherwise. Hurm. Anyway, Kuroda, Robertson and Rivera combine for a shutout.

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 1: A homer and a double for Aaron Hill, who had been mired in a slump. He may still be mired in a slump, with this being but one brief shining moment amidst a long stretch of doom and despair. Wait: I think I just realized why baseball writers use selective end points so often. To not do so is rather depressing.

Mets 7, Braves 4: Zack Wheeler worked around trouble and John Buck drove in three for the series split. I did not realize this until I just read it: the Mets are 20-13 since they called up Wheeler.

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: Jake Peavy gutted out seven innings while Justin Verlander continued to look quite mortal, allowing 11 hits and striking out only four in six innings of work. This could’ve been Peavy’s last start with the White Sox as he is being heavily scouted and is subject to all kinds of trade rumors.

Padres 10, Brewers 8: Will Venable hit a couple of doubles and made a sweet catch in center. Yovani Gallardo didn’t do much to help the Brewers peddle him to a contender: six runs on eight hits while walking three in three and two thirds.

Blue Jays 4, Astros 0: Mark Buehrle with the two-hit shutout, snapping the Jays’ seven-game losing streak. He worked quickly, as usual, and was happy about that. Why? He said after the game that he had tickets to see Tim McGraw last night and really didn’t want to be late. Well then.

Marlins 5, Rockies 3: A four-run ninth for the Marlins. A three-run ninth for the Rockies. Advantage: Marlins because, well, that’s how math works.

Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: The Cardinals win their seventh of nine, thanks to Lance Lynn’s strong outing.

Royals 7, Orioles 1: This win closes out a 5-2 stretch against the Tigers and O’s. Not too shabby. They play their next 12 against sub-.500 clubs. They’re only seven back. I guess crazier things have happened. Can’t think of any at the moment, but still.

Angels 8, Athletics 3: Albert Pujols, Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo each drove in two runs. The Angels had 12 hits. Eleven of them were singles.

Reds 5, Dodgers 2: Mat Latos — owner of cat Cat Latos — ends the Dodgers winning streak.  Jay Bruce and Xavier Paul homered off Zack Greinke. The Reds won, but Shin-Soo Choo had two awful plays. He got deked by the shortstop on a hit-and-run and tried to retreat back to first only to get tagged out. He also fielded a single by Yasiel Puig, thought he’d try to peg him at first base when Puig made a big turn and threw the ball away for a two-base error. Well, oops.

Mariners 8, Twins 2: A six-run second inning for the M’s was pretty much all she wrote. Who’s “she,” anyway? She writes a lot. Maybe I should meet her. I’d like to know what makes her so prolific.

Rays vs. Red Sox: POSTPONED:  “And you’ll always love me won’t you? Yes. And the rain won’t make any difference? No.”

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.