Jose Bautista

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Blue Jays 3, Rays 0: When the plan works, it looks great. Jose Bautista hitting two homers and Mark Buehrle tossing eight shutout innings with 11 strikeouts. That’s how they drew it up on paper entering last year and that’s what they counted on happening for real this year.

Rangers 4, Phillies 3: Jonathan Papelbon was handed the ball with a 3-1 lead and promptly gave up three runs on four hits and two walks, including a game-ending bases-loaded walk to Shin-Soo Choo. And then Papelbon blamed his defense for not turning a double play to end the game despite the fact it was drawn in because he had loaded the friggin’ bases. He had no command and no velocity. And, apparently, no sense of shame or responsibility.

Tigers 2, Royals 1: Welcome to Detroit Ian Kinsler. A homer and the walkoff single for the sleazeball whisperer. Not such a warm welcome to newcomer Joe Nathan who couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth, but we’ll let that slide for a moment. He has a lot to overcome what with the curse that old fortune teller placed on anyone who is named the Tigers closer.

Pirates 4, Cubs 3: Sixteen innings. 5 hours and 55 minutes. Ended at 1am and they gotta turn around and play today at 12:30. Sometimes I write my best stuff when I am tired and punchy. Some of the greatest albums were recorded in the wee small hours when everyone was totally wiped out. I doubt the best baseball is played under exhausted conditions, but I suppose we’ll see this afternoon.

Astros 3, Yankees 1: Jarred Cosart allowed four hits in five scoreless innings. Dexter Fowler homered and tripled. Thank goodness this was a baseball game and not a gutter wrestling match, because otherwise his contributions would’ve been meaningless and unwelcome.

Announcement: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $30,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $5,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

White Sox 7, Twins 6: There were approximately 11 people on hand for this chilly game. Those that stuck around for the 11th inning saw some fun stuff. Leury Garcia bunted for a base hit, took second on a balk, took third on a wild pitch and scored the winning run on another wild pitch. The balk and wild pitches came courtesy of Sam Deduno. The overall arc of that inning came courtesy of Rube Goldberg.

Reds 1, Cardinals 0: I have a sick, sick side of me that wants 2014 to be 1968 redux. All pitching, no hitting. Batting leaders who hit .301 and home run leaders who it, like, 23. Adam Wainwright or someone pulling a Denny McLain and Felix Hernandez or someone pulling a Bob Gibson. Hand-wringing about lowering the mound or juicing the balls. It’s not gonna happen, but when you see a couple of 1-0 games on the same day you think about it. In this one you think about how Carlos Martinez giving up three hits in the ninth to lose the game wasn’t particularly likely but happened anyway.

Athletics 6, Indians 1; Indians 6, Athletics 4: If two teams split a doubleheader is their overall velocity 0? I think so, but it’s been a long time since I took physics. Scott Kazmir tossed seven and a third shutout innings against his old mates in game 1. The Indians rallied from one run down in the ninth to take the nightcap. Jim Johnson has now pitched two games for the Athletics and he has stunk up the joint both times.

Nationals 5, Mets 1: Gio Gonzalez allowed one run over six innings and [all together now] helped his own cause with a solo home run in the fifth. The Nationals have struck out Mets batters 31 times in their two games, which is a modern major league record for the first two games of the season. Kind of an esoteric record, actually, which means far more for the ones against whom it was set than the ones setting it.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Whew! This, I was told, was a must-win game for the Red Sox. Thank God they won. David Ortiz and Mike Napoli each hit two-run homers. Napoli singled in two more in the seventh.

Rockies 6, Marlins 5: The Rockies offense finally woke up as all eight position players had a hit in this one. The pitchers were seen over at the smoking circle with the upperclassmen saying that “hitting is for geeks,” but that bravado really only masks their own insecurity.

Giants 2, Diamondbacks 0: Welcome to San Francisco Tim Hudson. Well, the game was technically in Phoenix, but let’s not get technical. Hudson allowed only three hits, no runs and struck out seven while pitching into the eighth inning.

Dodgers 5, Padres 1: Dan Haren was good and terrible in his last spring training appearance on Saturday. Guess he figured something out since then. He allowed only an unearned run in six. There was an attempted replay challenge in this game, but the umpires ruled that it wasn’t timely, as Bud Black took a while to come out of the dugout. This is why, in other challenges, managers are coming out early and stalling as their coaches review the plays and flash them a thumbs up or thumbs down. It’s also another reason why manager challenges are stupid.

Mariners 8, Angels 2: James Paxson pitched seven scoreless and Robinson Cano had his first RBI as a Mariner, while Justin Smoak, Mike Zunino and Corey Hart all homered. That makes it a sweep for Seattle. Expect enthusiasm to surge among Mariners fans. Expect the same old gripes and groans we’ve heard for the past two seasons from Angels fans. In both cases it’s justified.

Braves 1, Brewers 0: Dueling no-hitters into the seventh but then a Chris Johnson home run provided all of the game’s scoring. Matt Garza was great until then. So too was Aaron Harang, who was on fire:

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Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.