And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Athletics 3, Mariners 2: Coco Crisp with a leadoff, walkoff homer in the 12th. He did it by doing the one thing they tell you not to do as a hitter:

“I was just going up there to swing as hard as I could. Probably nine times out of 10, I ended up with a strikeout with that approach. Tonight was that one time that it ended up working out. I’m not going to have that as my everyday approach but I’m just grateful that it worked out tonight.”

You know, driving home, he thought “well, maybe I can try that a little bit more and it won’t hurt any. I can keep it under control.” It’s what all hardcore home run junkies say to themselves when they start dancing with Mr. Longball. Let’s just home Crisp has a good support structure to keep him on the straight and narrow.

Red Sox 4, Orioles 3: Boston racked up 14 hits. Xander Bogaerts has reached base in eight of his 12 plate appearance via five hits and three walks. This kid is gonna be amazing and you can all say you saw it when it started. Assuming you were paying attention late last season.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 5: Five runs in the eighth capped by an Angel Pagan three-run homer. Also: the Diamondbacks, obviously in an effort to delay the inevitable, released the hounds and the bees, and the hounds with bees in their mouths so every time they barked they shot bees at you.

Twins 10, White Sox 9: The Twins trailed 9-8 entering the ninth but came from behind via a Trevor Plouffe RBI single and an Oswaldo Arcia triple. Also: Chris Colabello drove in six. This guy spent forever putting dents in outfield walls in independent ball and then raked like nobody’s business once he finally got to the affiliated minors. Glad to see him getting it done in the majors.

Nationals 8, Mets 2: The sweep. Four hits for Ryan Zimmerman. Three RBI for Adam LaRoche, including one on a bases loaded walk. Also: thats 39 strikeouts for the Mets in three games, by the way. Maybe take a pitch, dudes?

Marlins 8, Rockies 5: That’s three of four for the Marlins from the Rockies. Casey McGeehee played the hero here, driving in three in the seventh and eighth. I think the Marlins are better than they were last year, but let’s be clear about something: they’re playing the Rockies here.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Cubs 3, Pirates 2: Jason Hammell pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Emilio Bonifacio went 2 for 4 and scored twice. He’s now 11 for 16, but before you get too excited about that, know that he’s done this kind of thing before only to finish seasons with pretty pedestrian numbers.

Cardinals 7, Reds 6:  Three hour, forty-two minute rain delay. Three hour, forty-one minute game. Todd Frazier hit two homers, but that wasn’t enough. In other news, there was some fun fan interaction between Matt Adams and a Reds fan:

Rays 7, Blue Jays 2: Nice night for the Rays’ doorbuster bargains: Chris Archer signed a $25.5 million deal on Wednesday and allowed two runs, four hits, two walks and had seven strikeouts in six innings last night. Evan Longoria is one of baseball’s least expensive superstars and he hit a three-run homer.

Yankees 4, Astros 2: Oh well. There go the Astros’ dreams of a 162-0 season. Yangervis Solarte had three hits and an RBI, which is rather annoying because now we all have to look up Yangervis Solarte to see just who the heck he is. Dexter Fowler had his third straight multi-hit game for the Astros.

Royals vs. Tigers: POSTPONED: April is the cruelest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain.

2017 Winter Meetings Preview

Craig Calcaterra
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL — The baseball world has descended on the Swan and Dolphin Resort at Disney World for the 2017 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

The two biggest names on the market — Shohei Ohtani and Giancarlo Stanton — have found new homes, but so far only 33 of baseball’s 249 free agents have signed, almost all of them minor. Still looking for a home: Yu Darvish, J.D. Martinez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jake Arrieta, CC Sabathia, Lorenzo Cain, Wade Davis, Lance Lynn, Greg Holland and many, many more. In early November we ran down the top free agents, position-by-position, to help you get a jump on who is available and what your team is looking at as it seeks to fill its needs.

It’s not just players looking for homes this week, however. It’s teams looking to make up for their failures in the Ohtani and Stanton derbies. The Cardinals and Giants both went big to get Stanton and came up empty. The Giants were likewise in Ohtani, but no dice. Baseball’s worst team in 2017 is obviously willing to spend some money to improve, and now they will look elsewhere to spend it. The Red Sox weren’t in on those two, but since it’s biggest rival landed Giancarlo Stanton, GM Dave Dombrowski will no doubt be kicking the tires hard on J.D. Martinez or Eric Hosmer to try to keep pace. The Mariners acquired a lot of international pool money in their quest for Ohtani, but they could still use a starting pitcher or two, so perhaps they may look at, say, Jake Arrieta? Lance Lynn? Yu Darvish? Well, they should, but who knows if they will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is a thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. The Marlins already traded Stanton, but their fire sale does not seem to be over. Could they deal the newly-acquired Starlin Castro? Christian Yelich? Marcel Ozuna? Bet on yes, and bet on any team wishing to spend prospects instead of free agent cash to take what Miami is unloading. Other potential trade candidates: Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Rays starter Chris Archer and third baseman Evan Longoria and Tigers second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors at the Swan and Dolphin. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year there are six new men at the helm: Dave Martinez in Washington, Mickey Callaway with the Mets, Gabe Kapler — Baseball’s Most Handsome Manager — in Philly, Alex Cora in Boston, Aaron Boone with the Yankees and Rob Gardenhire with the Tigers. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun. Or if any of them slug me for saying that they’re ugly.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. The big one everyone is talking about this offseason is the possibility of a pitch clock.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene down here at Disney World, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.