Henderson Alvarez

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Marlins 1, Tigers 0: It’s not often a 100-loss team ends the year with a beer shower celebration. But it’s not often a guy on a 100-loss team — or any team for that matter — tosses a no-hitter on the final day while winning via a walkoff wild pitch. Congratulations Henderson Alvarez. Sorry about having to get that hug from Jeff Loria afterward. Oh, also weird: the Tigers shut the Marlins out until the eighth using three starting pitchers: Justin Verlander, Doug Fister and Rick Porcello. So no, not your typical game-162.

Rays 7, Blue Jays 6: The Rays almost woofed away a playoff spot completely. No, thanks to the stumble at the end, they are still stuck with a game-163 and two one-and-done games rather than just one. Oh well, that’s what baseball wants, that’s what baseball gets.

Rangers 6, Angels 2: Way to finish strong against a team that hasn’t been playing bad baseball of late. Texas has seven straight wins. But if they don’t win an eighth and then a ninth in a row, it’s all over.

Pirates 4, Reds 2: And they’ll meet again on Tuesday, this time up the river in Pittsburgh. A three-game sweep for the Pirates. Now we get to see if momentum means anything. Hint: it doesn’t, historically speaking. But if the Pirates win people will still say it’s a thing.

Indians 5, Twins 1: The Indians finish hot. And now hope that Texas and Tampa Bay go 19 innings and use every single pitcher tonight.

Braves 12, Phillies 5: Big offense for the Braves and no one fought with anyone, which is nice. Although really, between yelling at the opposition over home run trots and coaches fighting with players, the Braves are giving me a 1970s A’s-Yankees vibe. Maybe they’ll dysfunction themselves all the way to the World Series title. As for the Phillies: thank god this year is over.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: A loss, yes, even though they were up early, but the Sox finish at 97-65, tied for the best record in baseball. This was basically a spring training for Boston. For the Orioles: a good season. And an abject lesson in the difference between the ball bouncing one way in one year and the other way the next.

Royals 4, White Sox 1: An eighty-six win year makes it the best since 1989 for the Royals. They finished the month 17-10, making it their best month of the year. Gonna be a trendy pick next season. For the White Sox? Well, the didn’t lose 100. I guess that’s something.

Mets 3, Brewers 2: The Mets rallied with two in the eight. Eric Young Jr. took the stolen base crown. Otherwise: a pretty forgettable season for both clubs this year. At least the Mets, unlike the Brewers, had some things to grow on in the form of young pitching. Fans of both clubs are probably both happy for winter.

Yankees 5, Astros 1: Fourteen inning game, fifteenth straight loss for the Astros. But it may be the Yankees who have the more uncertain future. Nowhere to go but up for Houston. The Yankees could be on the verge of a rebuild, a reload, a rebound year or a total cratering. Gonna be an interesting offseason for Brian Cashman.

Cardinals 4, Cubs 0: The Cards finish with a tie for the best record in baseball, home field advantage in the NL playoffs and a date with the wild card winner rather than a series with the Dodgers. Not a bad way to roll into the playoffs.

Diamondbacks 3, Nationals 2: Farewell Davey Johnson, who ends his managerial career his career with a record of 1,372-1,071. Farewell Nationals, most experts’ pick to win the NL East this year. For the Dbacks: grit wasn’t good enough.

Athletics 9, Mariners 0: Bang meets whimper.Six pitchers combine for the shutout and now the A’s look forward to a playoff rematch with the Tigers. Some starters sat, others left the game early, either way it didn’t matter. The M’s will now look for a new manager. It should totally be Ozzie Guillen, right?

Giants 7, Padres 6: Two runs in the ninth for the come-from-behind win. It was Hunter Pence, the Giants’ new $90 million man who did the honors. Three RBI overall.

Rockies 2, Dodgers 1: Todd Helton’s career comes to an end. With a strikeout, alas, but he’ll remember the better stuff. Nice ovation from the Dodgers fans for Helton at the end. L.A. now heads to Atlanta. God, I hope Brian McCann doesn’t kill Yasiel Puig for not playing the game the right way at some point, but it could very well happen.

And with that, And That Happen bids you adieu for the year.  Yes, we have a game 163 to go, but ATH is a creature of the regular season.

And it’s been a good season. But we now shift into a different gear — the playoff gear — which is wonderful for its own purposes but which is just … something else. For me baseball is about the day-in-day-out of the regular season and its lack of pitched drama is what makes it a true pastime. I like the playoffs fine, but there’s nothing like April-September baseball. And every year at this time I feel a bit sad about its passing, even if the next month will be exciting and memorable.

Oh well. Thanks for reading every morning. This feature will see you again next year.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.