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.

Phillies sign outfielder Michael Saunders

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 3: Michael Saunders #21 of the Toronto Blue Jays runs to first after being walked during the third inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 3, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Phillies have signed free agent outfielder Michael Saunders.

Saunders was an All-Star in 2016 due to his wonderful start, but he cratered in the second half of the season. Overall is numbers looked good — he hit 24 homers and posted a line of .253/.338/.478, but his second half line was .178/.282/.357 in 58 games. He’s not the best defender around either.

The Phillies could use him, however, and if he has another red hot first half, there’s a decent chance they could flip him if they wanted to.

Jose Bautista and the Blue Jays nearing a two-year, $35-40 million deal

Toronto Blue Jays Jose Bautista flips his bat after hitting a three-run homer during seventh inning game 5 American League Division Series baseball action in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
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It was first reported that the Blue Jays and Jose Bautista were close to a deal last night. Now Ken Rosenthal reports that the deal is near completion. It will likely a two-year contract in the $35-40 million range.

Bautista had a tough 2016, hitting .234/.366/.452 with 22 home runs and 69 RBI, and some clubs likely considered a long-term deal for the 36-year-old too risky, this leading to the relative lack of reported interest in Bautista by other clubs. But back-to-back ALCS appearances by the Jays and the success and popularity Bautista has experienced in Toronto make his re-signing there a pretty sensible move for all involved.

The Jays, who already lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency, get their slugger back on a short term deal. Unlike anyone else, they don’t have to give up the draft pick attached to him via the qualifying offer. Bautista, in turn, will make, on average, more than he would’ve made on the qualifying offer if he would’ve accepted it and a raise over the $14 million he made in 2016.