And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 4, Reds 0: Josh Collmenter with the three-hit shutout. And not just a shutout, but a Maddux, as he needed only 94 pitches to do it, while facing the minimum 27 hitters. The only other Dback who has gone a whole game while facing the minimum was Randy Johnson who did it while pitching a perfect game. Aaron Hill had a homer and an RBI single in support.

Mets 4, Phillies 1: A lot of people have been talking about the Mets’ struggles at Citi Field. They do just fine at Citizens Bank Park, thank you. They won their sixth straight in Philly to open up a five game series here this weekend. Zack Wheeler pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.

Rangers 5, Twins 4: Leonys Martin doubled twice and scored three times. One of his runs was the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, when he came hope on a sac fly, just barely beating the throw from Danny Santana, who was playing center field despite the fact that he’s a shortstop because, hey, you gotta have 13 pitchers on staff or else the friggin’ world will end.

Angels 7, Mariners 5: Erik Aybar’s three-run homer have the Angels a 5-0 lead in the fourth and they held on from there. The Angels rattled off 15 hits. They’re a game and a half behind Oakland and if the season ended today, well, that would be really damn weird considering it’s May 30 and I suppose we wouldn’t have a baseball playoffs because I’m guessing only national tragedy of some sort would cause the season to end today so forget that whole idea of the Angels being in the playoffs if it did. God, now I’m all depressed, even though I started this thought in order to say something uplifting about the Angels. Some sort of nuclear disaster, I’m guessing. Maybe two teams’ planes colliding. Not sure. Oh my God this is horrible.

Red Sox 4, Braves 3: The Braves had a bullpen and defensive meltdown late, allowing the Sox to rally for their fourth straight win and the series sweep. I, thankfully, did not see this. I was at an Eddie Izzard show downtown. When I turned on my phone after the show, it was full of people asking me stuff like “is Brooks Conrad now the Braves’ defensive coordinator?” and offering sarcastic “BARVES!” texts. Really glad I was at the show instead.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $45,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Giants 6, Cardinals 5: Michael Morse homered and drove in three runs and Pablo Sandoval homered too. The Giants are third in all of baseball in homers. I know I said that a week or two ago, but man, it’s still pretty darn notable.

Tigers 5, Athletics 4: Rick Porcello was shaky but won his eighth game. Joe Nathan was shaky but held on for the save. The A’s and Tigers split their four-game series.

Royals 8, Blue Jays 6: Edwin Encarnacion had two more homers — that’s 15 and 16 for May — but it wasn’t enough to extend the Jays’ winning streak. Every Royals hitter had a hit including Omar Infante’s two-run single in the 10th. Obviously it was new batting coach Dale Sveum’s work here. Quick, someone go ask Sveum what he did to make the Royals hit.

Pirates 6, Dodgers 3:  Russell Martin and Pedro Alvarez homered and the Pirates put up three in the seventh to back Gerrit Cole. It was just the Pirates third win in 20 games at Dodger Stadium.

Astros 3, Orioles 1: Holy crap, George Springer is on a rampage. He hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh, which was his seventh homer in seven games and ten for the month of May. Brad Peacock allowed one run on six hits with eight strikeouts in six innings.

 

Jose Canseco to join NBC Sports California as an A’s analyst

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Hey, I have a new coworker: Jose Canseco has been hired by NBC Sports California as an Athletics pregame analyst.

OK, maybe he’s not technically a coworker, as the folks at NBC Sports California — formerly CSN Bay Area — and I do not hang out at the water cooler, have potlucks in the conference room or exchange secret Santa gifts at Christmas time, but dang it, I’m gonna TELL people I work with Jose Canseco. The only downside will be people assuming that, because he and I are on the same team, my performance is something less than authentic. Or, perhaps, Canseco may write another book and tell all of my secrets.

Anyway, Canseco will be part of NBC Sports California’s A’s Pregame Live and A’s Postgame Live shows. Live TV can be hard. I’ve done a bit of it, and there is certainly more to that gig than meets the eye. You can’t always prepare for what happens on the fly. I’m sure Canseco will do well, however, as he’s great with coming up with the best stuff off the top of his head.

2017 Preview: Cleveland Indians

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Cleveland Indians.

The Cleveland Indians almost won the World Series without their best hitter for the whole season and two of their starting pitchers for the playoffs. This year that hitter — Michael Brantley — is back and the starters — Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar — are healthy. Oh, and they added arguably the best free agent bat available in Edwin Encarnacion.

Baseball teams love to downplay their expectations, but given where the Indians are at the moment, anything less than another American League Pennant will have to feel like a disappointment, right? Fortunately for the Indians, they stand as the favorites to do just that.

They didn’t lose much in the offseason. Yes, World Series hero Rajai Davis is gone, but the Indians outfield will be fine if Brantley remains healthy. Mike Napoli‘s loss will be felt but it will be made up for with Encarnacion’s bat and probably then some. Coco Crisp left too, but he was not a key part of the equation.

The biggest losses are guys from last year who will start the year on the disabled list, most notably Jason Kipnis and Lonnie Chisenhall. Kipnis is just starting to work out following time off to rest his sore shoulder. Chisenhall ran into a wall the other day and is being evaluated. There is no sense that either will miss extended time, however.

Otherwise, the lineup should score a lot of runs, with on-base machines Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor setting the table for Encarnacion, Brantley and Carlos Santana, who is entering his walk year. The Indians trailed only the Red Sox in runs scored in the American League last year and they should score a lot of runs this year as well.

The strength of the club, however, remains its pitching. Corey Kluber looked like his old Cy Young self last year, particularly in the playoffs. Danny Salazar built on his excellent 2015 season in the first half before falling prey to injury. Carlos Carrasco posted an ERA+ of 141 before breaking his hand and Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer both stood out for fourth and fifth starters.

The bullpen is excellent too, as relief ace Andrew Miller is joined by Cody Allen, Bryan Shaw and newcomer Boone Logan make up one of the relief corps in baseball.

Pitcher health is probably the biggest uncertainty for any contender, but the Indians have the best pitching in the AL if everyone stays healthy. And maybe even if one or two guys don’t.

It’s hard to find much fault with the 2017 Cleveland Indians. They are the class of their division and, while the slog of the regular season turns a lot of surefire contenders into hash before it’s all said and done, there is no reason to look at the Indians right now and think of them as anything other than the best team in the American League.

Prediction: First place, American League Central.