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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 1, Cubs 0: More like Neil Walkoff, amirite? All goose eggs until the bottom of the tenth when Walker pulled a Mazeroski. Well, it wasn’t quite as significant as that, but you know what I mean.

Phillies 14, Rangers 10: Cliff Lee: eight runs on 11 hits in five innings and the win. Given how many amazing games he’s pitched over the past couple of years only to get a no-decision or a loss thanks to the lack of bullpen or run support, he deserves every bit of this ugly win. Meanwhile, Jimmy Rollins spent all spring being called every name in the book because he’s not a leader and doesn’t always say the right stuff but he hit a grand slam here, so take that leadership.

Brewers 2, Braves 0: A two-run double by Aramis Ramirez in the fourth was all the scoring in this fairly boring, offensively impotent game. Ryan Braun’s big standing O and the temper tantrum’s from the media in its wake was the most exciting thing about it.

Tigers 4, Royals 3: Everyone mocked the Tigers when they traded for Alex Gonzalez last week. And, over the course of months, I question whether Gonzalez is gonna earn his keep. But on this day he was the hero, knocking in the winning run in the ninth. Off Greg Holland, no less. Worth noting that Ned Yost went with the classic “don’t bring your closer in when it’s tied on the road” orthodoxy to begin the inning, but then relented and brought in Holland with two men on. I guess he gets some sort of credit for that even though it ended up not working.

Nationals 9, Mets 7:  Anthony Rendon hit a three-run homer in the 10th and drove in four overall. It doesn’t get to the tenth if Bobby Parnell doesn’t blow the save in the form of a two-out double to Denard Span in the ninth. But hey, at least it got that far.

Orioles 2, Red Sox 1: A big day for Grady Sizemore, but Nelson Cruz was the hero here, hitting the tiebreaking homer in the seventh. Tommy Hunter made it mildly interesting in the ninth, but locked down the save. As I was watching it, I pictured Grant Balfour watching the game in the Rays’ clubhouse, saying “Yeah, blow the save, mate! Blow the bloody save!”

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $70,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $9,000. Starts at 6:40pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cardinals 1, Reds 0: Great start from Wainwright, shutdown bullpen work, big hit from Molina. Yep, these are the Cardinals. Billy Hamilton led off for the Reds and went 0 for 4 with 4Ks. So, yeah, that experiment is off to a bumpy start.

Rays 9, Blue Jays 2: If you bought stock in 2012 Cy Young Award winners, I hope you bought it in David Price and not in R.A. Dickey. Price took a shutout into the eighth before he hit a wall. Still only gave up two runs. Dickey, on the other hand walked six dudes and allowed six runs on five hits.

White Sox 5, Twins 3: Alejandro De Aza hit two homers and Jose Abreu had two hits. Also, some tech fun: The Twins’ replay system suffered two blown fuses which messed up the monitors in the their clubhouse. Lucky for everyone, though, this one wasn’t close.

Marlins 10, Rockies 1: Jose Fernandez struck out nine and allowed one run in six innings and Marcell Ozuna [altogether now] was a triple short of the cycle. Fernande’z grandmother Olga, who is from Cuba and with whom he had a tearful reunion this past winter, was at the game. The cameras showed her more than most of the Rockies. This was probably the smart move. She’s adorable.

Mariners 10, Angels 3: Mike Trout hit a homer and drove in a couple but Justin Smoak drove in three and King Felix struck out 11. It was close until late when Seattle put up six in the ninth to win their eighth consecutive opener. Which, given how Seattle has done over the past few years, tells you all you need to know about the value of winning the opener.

Indians 2, Athletics 0: Cubs-Pirates West. All zeroes until the ninth when Nyjer Morgan hit a sac fly and Nick Swisher singled in a run for insurance. Both runs came off the A’s new $10 million closer Jim Johnson, who started the carnage off with a walk, a single and a hit-by-pitch before Morgan and Swisher came up. Justin Masterson shut out the A’s for seven. Yeah, Cleveland, that’s not a guy to whom you want to give a short, team-friendly contract extension. Oy. The loss is Oakland’s tenth straight on Opening Day. Which, given how Oakland has done over the past few years, tells you all you need to know about the value of winning the opener.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 8: San Francisco was down 7-3 heading into the seventh before the Giants woke up and put their rally caps on and put up four on Brandon McCarthy, Oliver Perez and Brad Zeigler. Buster Posey put the Giants ahead for good with a two-run homer in the ninth. All four of the runs Giants starter Madison Bumgarner gave up were unearned because apparently it was defense-optional night at Chase Field. But when you have Buster Posey that stuff can be overcome. The Dbacks catcher was pretty good too. Miguel Montero had three hits and reached base five times.

Blue Jays will have a closer competition this spring

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Roberto Osuna became the youngest pitcher to ever play for the Blue Jays last season at age 20 and he rose to the challenge with a 2.58 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 75/16 K/BB ratio in 69 2/3 frames. Osuna eventually took over as Toronto’s closer, earning 20 regular-season saves and one in the American League Division Series — a five-out effort in Game 5 to close out the visiting Rangers.

But the Jays upgraded the back end of their bullpen this winter, acquiring Drew Storen from the Nationals in early January for speedy outfielder Ben Revere. Jesse Chavez was also brought to Toronto in a trade with the A’s.

Storen has more experience at closer than Osuna, and Storen struggled when the Nationals tried to put him in a setup role. Storen, in his final year of salary arbitration, also gets paid much more. He’s probably going to enter spring training as the favorite for the Jays’ ninth-inning gig, but there will be a competition …

Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca on Wednesday that he doesn’t expect the team to choose between Osuna or Storen until midway through spring training, if not later.

There’s been talk of making Osuna a starter, so add that wrinkle.

Storen, 28, boasts 95 career major league saves.

Orioles plotting late-offseason push? Gallardo, Fowler, Alvarez, Bruce in consideration

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Baltimore’s front office appears to be lining up a run of potential roster additions leading into the beginning of spring training.

We’ve already passed along the reports suggesting they are close to a three-year deal with free agent starter Yovani Gallardo, but now FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that free agent outfielder Dexter Fowler could be next on the Orioles’ target list. It they get those two deals done, the O’s could then chase free agent slugger Pedro Alvarez.

Rosenthal says the Orioles are even eyeing Jay Bruce of the Reds, though the FOX reporter hears the O’s might not have the prospects to pull off that kind of trade.

The focus for the Orioles out of the gate this winter was re-signing Matt Wieters and Chris Davis. Wieters accepted his one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer in November and Davis was locked up to a seven-year, $161 million contract in mid-January.

Now the O’s are spending a little leftover cash on late-offseason additions to improve their position in what should be a tight 2016 American League East race.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.