And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Yankees 9, Red Sox 6: All of the fireworks. All of the intrigue. All of the A-Rod. But this game really came down to the bullpens. The Yankees’ was fresh and effective, the Red Sox’ wasn’t. Our more thorough write-up can be read here. For now the Red Sox probably need to think less about which rats they want to punish and more about how to get guys out and how to protect a division lead which has been cut in half since Tuesday.

Marlins 6, Giants 5: Hero of the game, Jeff Mathis. He homered and hit a tiebreaking double in the eighth that just eluded Andres Torres’ dive. Worst part: The home run sculpture in the outfield in Miami got jammed and did not go off after Mathis’ home run. Which, jeez, if I had to play for that owner and that team the least I’d want is that sculpture to spin around and fart all over itself.

Tigers 6, Royals 3: Chalk up another win for Max Scherzer — his 18th — and another homer for Miguel Cabrera, his 40th. I’d be rather shocked if this wasn’t your Cy Young -MVP combo in the American League this year. The Tigers won three of five in this rare five-game series and I feel like that’s enough to put any hope of anyone in the AL Central challenging them to rest.

Phillies 3, Dodgers 2: That’s the end of the Dodgers’ ten-game winning streak thanks to not one but two ninth-inning errors from Hanley Ramirez. For the Phillies it was the first win — and first runs scored — of the Ryne Sandberg Administration.

Orioles 7, Rockies 2: Chris Davis went 4 for 5 with a double, a homer and a couple driven in. The homer was his 45th. Adam Jones had three hits including a two-run homer. So weird that last year they needed all the runs but had an awesome bullpen, this year they have been scoring just fine but have needed better relief. Baseball, man. Baseball.

Braves 2, Nationals 1: Julio Teheran tossed six scoreless. The Braves won two of three and now have a 15.5 game lead. All of this stupid beanball crap has reflected poorly on the Braves in my view — and Braves fans booing Harper like they did here is dumb — but it’s not going to amount to the stuff of rivalry until next year, it seems.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: Jose Lobaton hit a walk-off home run in the 10th. This goes with his walkoff triple on Friday. Now all he needs is the single and double for the walkoff cycle. That’s a thing, right?

Diamondbacks 4, Pirates 2: Sixteen innings. The Dbacks held the Pirates scoreless in the last 13 of those. Adam Eaton had four hits including the go-ahead double in that final frame. The Pirates dropped two of three — Saturday’s game in ugly fashion allowing 15 runs on 20 hits, this one with no punch at all — and have lost three straight series. Their division lead is down to one game. They need to find a way to stop the bleeding.

White Sox 5, Twins 2: Alexei Ramirez homered and had three RBI. Hector Santiago pitched in and out of trouble but got the win. After the game his manager, Robin Ventura, said it was like a root canal watching him pitch. He really did. Which, well, thanks, skip.

Reds 9, Brewers 1: Homer Bailey allowed one run in eight innings. Not that he needed to be so good, as Wily Peralta fooled no Reds batters and coughed up seven runs on eight hits in four and a third. Ryan Hanigan drove in three.

Mariners 4, Rangers 3: Kyle Seager with a go-ahead double in the ninth on a pitch from Joe Nathan at which he probably had no business swinging. The M’s take two of three from Texas.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 1: Adam Wainwright struck out 11 in seven innings to snag his 14th win. Jon Jay drove in four with a homer and a double. After a rough stretch St. Louis has now won five of seven and are only a game behind the Pirates. Now they get the pleasure of facing the punchless Brewers for three games. After that, though, 17 straight against teams that would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Astros 7, Angels 5: Matt Dominguez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the seventh inning and the Astros take two of three. They took two of three from the A’s before that, so that’s a pretty nice stretch for them. Mike Trout left the game with some hamstring tightness, but he doesn’t think it’s serious.

Padres 4, Mets 3: A walkoff homer for Will Venable to lead off the ninth. He also drove in a run in the fifth. He now has a 15-game hitting streak.

Athletics 7, Indians 3: Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo homered in the fifth inning. Josh Donaldson drove in three. Lots of good defense from the A’s too.  Oakland is now only a half game behind Texas. Cleveland has lost six of its last seven in the Coliseum.

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.