Trout and Harper

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Nationals 2: All day I read stuff about “Trout vs. Harper!” I was really excited until I remember that baseball is not the NBA and at no time was it really likely that the two would actually compete against one another directly. I mean, I suppose one could try to throw out the other as the one tried to take an extra base, but the odds were against that. On a granular level baseball is technically about one-on-one matchups. Only those matchups are between a hitter and a pitcher. More broadly, baseball is a team sport and Mike Trout’s team beat Bryce Harper’s. Trout was 2 for 5. Harper was 0 for 3. And Raul Ibanez’s three-run double mattered more than what either of them did.

Braves 4, Marlins 2: Evan Gattis with a walkoff homer in the 10th. Kudos to Fredi Gonzalez here. In the ninth, following a leadoff double, Gonzalez ordered Jason Heyward to bunt, despite the fact that he’s a lefty with power and the pitcher was a right hander. A right hander, by the way, named Carlos Marmol, who is not exactly good. in essence, he was more confident in Heyward — a guy who rarely if ever is asked to bunt — laying one down than being able to pull something off a crappy righty, which would have moved the runner over. And of course, had he done it, it means he’s depending on B.J. Upton to drive in the run. Now, you may think that’s deranged and I might think that’s deranged, but Fredi certainly knew that this unsuccessful sac bunt attempt would optimize the chances of Evan Gattis coming up to hit that walkoff homer. You mad genius, Freddi! You mad genius.

Phillies 7, Dodgers 0: Cliff Lee struck out double digits for the second straight start. This time he actually won. In his first five starts Lee has struck out 38 batters and has walked two.

Rockies 8, Giants 2: Five homers for the Rockies. And none of them were hit by Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki. Charlie Blackmon hit two. Ryan Vogelsong gave up three of them. Hard to see him lasting the year in the rotation. His ERA is now 7.71.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Padres 3: Milwaukee keeps chugging along. Aramis Ramirez homered and Ryan Braun drove in two. K-Rod saved his fourth game in four days. If you had been wagering on Rodriguez being lights out to start the season you would’ve gotten pretty awesome odds. Same with the Brewers starting off 15-5.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: Travis Wood: wrecking ball. He drove in four runs, including a three-run homer, and allowed one run while striking out nine over seven innings.

Astros 7, Mariners 2: Seattle has lost seven in a row. Matt Dominguez homered and drove in three. And that was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Houston scored six off of him, though only two were earned. With teams this bad I’m afraid to go look at highlights before I eat breakfast, but I’m gonna assume some sloppy defense. [looks] ah, only one bad defensive play. Yep, the noodle-bat Astros actually beat King Felix around a bit. Go figure.

Mets 2, Cardinals 0: Jenrry Meija shut out the Cards for six and two-thirds while striking out seven. And he had some nifty defense behind him too. The only thing that looked bad for the Mets yesterday was their camouflage uniforms.

Rangers 4, Athletics 3: Yu Darvish was not at his best, but the Rangers gritted one out over the defending two-time division champs. Donnie Murphy lined a go-ahead single up the middle with one out in the eighth inning as Texas came from behind.

White Sox 3, Tigers 1: Anibal Sanchez was solid for six but the Sox broke through in the seventh. Of course, the words “broke through” imply a lot of kinetic energy. Here the seventh inning was like watching paint dry thanks to two replay reviews which stopped the game in its tracks.

Indians 4, Royals 3: Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley hit two-run homers and Zach McAllister overcame some shaky defense behind him. Oh, and there was a squirrel on the field at one point, which I thought you all should know about.

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Ike Davis is making himself right at home in Pittsburgh. He hit a grand slam. This not too long after hitting that big walkoff grand slam for the Mets. According to STATS, Inc., Davis is the first player to hit grand slams for different teams in the same April. Neat.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: These teams were likely dragging after a Sunday night game gave way to this 11AM start, but that’s Patriot’s Day for you. Baltimore jumped out to a 6-0 lead and then held on to win 7-6. The Red Sox had loads of chances — they left runners on base in each of the innings in which they scored — but they let them slip away.

A Mexican team wins the Caribbean Series for the third time in four years

Mexican players celebrate their victory in the Caribbean Series baseball final against Aragua Tigres of Venezuela, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. Designated hitter Jorge Vazquez hit a game-winning home run leading off the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday, lifting Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan to a 5-4 come-from-behind victory and the championship of the Caribbean Series. (AP Photo/Roberto Guzman)
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For those who aren’t familiar, Serie del Caribe, or the Caribbean Series, is the highest club level baseball tournament in Latin America, pitting the champions of the winter leagues in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela against one another in a bacchanalia of baseball that, if there was justice in the world, we’d all be watching instead of football.

This year’s installment ended last night with Mexico’s Mazatlan Venados beating Venezuela’s Aragua Tigres 5-4 in the final game at Estadio Quisqueya in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Jorge Vazquez — who Yankees fans may remember from a few years back — provided the winning margin when he hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning.

This is the third Serie del Caribe title for a Mexican club in the past four years, with Naranjeros de Hermosillo winning in 2014 and Yaquis de Obregón winning in 2013. Pinar del Río from Puerto Rico won it last winter. This is the first time the Venados have won it.

As we noted yesterday, this was longtime MLB starter Freddy Garcia‘s last game. He gave up four hits and allowed two earned runs over five and a third innings for the Tigres, getting a no-decision.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.