Jonathan Papelbon

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 2, Phillies 1: A few days ago Jonathan Papelbon watched his team lose another game and said “I definitely didn’t come here for this.” Well, they didn’t show up at the ballpark yesterday expecting Papelbon to give up four singles and blow the lead. Again. Cole Hamels’ eight shutout innings were for naught and the Phillies continue to sink.

Rangers 7, Diamondbacks 1: Yu Darvish was not messing around. He struck out 14 in seven innings — and 10 of the first 13 batters he faced — while shutting out the snakes and allowing only five hits. He has 10 games of double digit strikeouts this season.

Cardinals 13, Pirates 0: Well, I suppose five-game sweeps are hard to come by. The Cardinals scored a baker’s dozen without the aid of a homer. Just a big conga line around the base paths, chasing Charlie Morton and pounding Jeanmar Gomez. Pittsburgh still has the division lead, but the Cards head on to Cincy with at least a bit of pride restored.

Orioles 6, Astros 3: Bud Norris just got traded away from Houston on Wednesday and here he is beating them on Thursday. What a fine how-do-you-do. Chris Davis homered again. “Glad to see he’s back on the ‘roids after a few days off,” said half of the Internet.

Marlins 3, Mets 0: Tom Koehler is not as famous as Matt Harvey but he was better than him on this day. Six shutout innings for the Marlins’ starter. All three of the Marlins runs came in the sixth off a clearly tiring Harvey. Miami has taken 10 of 15 from New York this season.

Indians 6, White Sox 1: Two homers for Ryan Raburn and a continuation of the Tribe’s surge. I called them as a surprise wild card contender before the season began. I had no idea that they’d hang this close to the Tigers into August. After the Marlins this weekend they get four against the Tigers at home. This is gonna be good.

Royals 7, Twins 2: The Royals are just as hot as the Indians, if not hotter. But they’re not gaining ground given how good both Cleveland and Detroit are doing. Still, this is giving hope to Royals fans. Royals fans have had hope before. For the past 25 years or so it’s always been dashed. But I suppose it’s better than nothing. Well, at least if you’re not a big Shawshank fan, then you may disagree.

Red Sox 8, Mariners 7: Whoa. Just your everyday six-run bottom of the ninth to give the home team the win when they started the frame down 7-2. Tom Wilhelmsen and Oliver Perez provided the kerosene and match, respectively. They had better sleep with one eye open for the next few nights as Felix Hernandez — whose one-run in seven innings performance was wasted — would probably like to kill everyone in Seattle’s bullpen these days.

Braves 11, Rockies 2: Well, Atlanta didn’t put up a six-spot in any inning for the first time this series, but they still beat the tar out of the Rockies. Really, this may have  been the biggest beatdown in any series by any team in the majors this year. Colorado was outscored 40-13 in the four-game set. Two homers for Justin Upton. Eleven strikeouts for Julio Teheran.

Dodgers 6, Cubs 4: Junior Lake and Anthony Rizzo each homered twice for the Cubs, but they only had five hits in all and that’s just not enough. Yasiel Puig hit a two-run shot in the ninth. The Dodgers had to be tired as they didn’t get to their hotel in Chicago until 7:30 yesterday morning, but I guess beating the Cubs doesn’t require full energy these days.

Angels 8, Blue Jays 2: Bet a lot of people thought this would be an ALCS matchup. Oh well. The Angels had a four-run first inning, fueled by a Mark Trumbo homer. J.B. Shuck drove in three. On the bright side for Toronto, the loser of this series gets The 2013 Under Achiever Award, so they’re in the lead now. Wondering what that award looks like. Maybe a trophy with a little Christian Slater figurine on top?

Angels’ Pujols has foot surgery, could be sidelined 4 months

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Los Angeles Angels slugger Albert Pujols had surgery on his right foot Friday, possibly sidelining him past opening day.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Pujols had the procedure Friday in North Carolina to release his plantar fascia, the ligament connecting the heel to the toes. The three-time NL MVP was bothered by plantar fasciitis repeatedly during the season, but played through the pain in arguably the strongest year of his half-decade with the Angels.

Eppler said the surgery typically prevents players from participating in baseball activities for three months, along with another month before they’re ready to resume playing in games. Opening day for Los Angeles is April 3, and the Angels hope Pujols can be ready.

“He’s at that point in his career where he’s keenly aware of what’s happening with his body,” Eppler said in a phone interview. “I don’t put the timetable on Albert like you would with your younger players. We’ll just see in Albert’s case, as he progresses, what his timetable is.”

Pujols, who turns 37 next month, batted .268 last year with 31 homers and 119 RBIs, the fourth-most in the majors – although his .780 OPS was among the worst of his career. He largely served as a designated hitter instead of playing first base due to problems with his hamstrings and feet.

Pujols heads into 2017 with 591 career homers, ranking him ninth in major league history. He is 18 homers behind Sammy Sosa for eighth place.

After playing in pain until the final week of the Angels’ disappointing season, Pujols began shock wave therapy on his foot early in the offseason, believing he wouldn’t need surgery.

But Pujols’ foot became more painful in recent weeks despite the therapy, and he huddled with the Angels’ top brass to decide on surgery after his most recent trip to see Dr. Robert Anderson in North Carolina. Continuing with conservative care would have required 10 more weeks, forcing Pujols to miss the first half of the 2017 season if he still required surgery.

“He just felt that the pain had gotten to a point where he was comfortable” having surgery, Eppler said. “If we did delay it, you’re just looking at 2 1/2 more months into the season.”

Pujols had a different type of surgery on his right foot last winter, but recovered in time for opening day. He also had plantar fasciitis in his left foot during the 2013 season, eventually forcing him out for the year when his fascia snapped.

Pujols has five years and $140 million remaining on the 10-year, $240 million free-agent contract that pried him out of St. Louis, where he won two World Series and became a nine-time NL All-Star.

The Angels haven’t won a playoff game since Pujols’ arrival and Mike Trout‘s concurrent emergence as one of baseball’s best players. They went 74-88 last season, the injury-plagued club’s worst record since 1999.

Diamondbacks hire Mike Fitzgerald to head Research and Development department

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Mike Hazen, new Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Red Sox, addresses the media during a press conference to announce his promotion before the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park on September 24, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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According to an official announcement, the Diamondbacks have acquired former Pirates quantitative analyst Mike Fitzgerald as their new Director of Research and Development.

Fitzgerald joined the Pirates’ front office in 2012, where he frequently accompanied the team on the road to help breach the divide between analytics and the clubhouse. According to a profile written by Grantland’s Ben Lindbergh in 2014, Fitzgerald’s multifaceted approach brought balance and perspective to the organization, whether he was assisting coaches in making statistically sound decisions, optimizing the batting order, weighing in on scouting and personnel decisions, developing more effective defensive positioning, or keeping players and personnel appraised of the latest developments in sabermetrics.

In the wake of Fitzgerald’s departure, Pirates’ GM Neal Huntington praised the Diamondbacks for a smart acquisition and said that the club has every intention of finding a replacement analyst, albeit one who will have some big shoes to fill.