Zack Wheeler

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 1, Marlins 0: A three-hit shutout for Zack Wheeler, with the only run support he got or needed being David Wright’s first inning solo shot. That overshadowed what was otherwise a pretty spiffy major league debut for Andrew Heaney who, apart from the homer, basically shut down the Mets bats for six and a third innings.

Pirates 4, Reds 3: Russell Martin drew a bases-loaded walk off Tony Cingrani with two outs in the 12th. Otherwise known as the walkoff walk. That whole last inning was special. Gaby Sanchez single, got balked to second, then Bryan Price decided to have Josh Harrison intentionally walked, Cingrani then plunked Clint Barmes to load the bases. Talk about your unforced errors.

Phillies 4, Cardinals 1: Ryan Howard remains hot — he hit a homer and drove in three — and the Phillies win again. They are now only four games out of first place in a division with no clearly elite team. Do I think they have a chance? Nah. Do I think they’ll flirt enough with respectability to fool Ruben Amaro into not making trades that could start a meaningful rebuilding process? Oh, definitely.

Indians 5, Angels 3: Cool walkoff grand slam, bro! We talked about that and Mike Scioscia’s curious bullpen decisions yesterday. But at least they were happy in Brohio.

Brewers 4, Diamondbacks 1: Yovani Gallardo improved to 7-0 with an ERA of 1.93 in ten career starts against the Dbacks. After the game he searched for an explanation:

“Sometimes you look at it as how this game is. There are certain things like that I wish I could explain, but I just can’t.”

Dude. I can.

Tigers 2, Royals 1: The Royals’ ten-game winning streak is snapped thanks to Anibal Sanchez allowing one run over seven innings. It didn’t help that the Royals didn’t have Alex Gordon, who sat out due to flu-like symptoms. Not that he didn’t try:

I feel bad for the groundskeeping assistant, frankly.

Padres 4, Mariners 1:  A four-run seventh inning for San Diego, in which Chris Denorfia singled in the go-ahead run. The Padres won back-to-back games for the first time since the end of May.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 4: The Yankees have won 16 straight over Toronto at Yankee Stadium. The Blue Jays have lost nine of 12 and their lead in the East is down to a game and a half.

Braves 3, Nationals 0: For as crappy as the Braves have been playing lately they can at least count on beating Washington. They are 23-7 in their past 30 games against the Nationals, including 6-1 this season. The win came with a price, though: Gavin Floyd fractured his elbow and is gone for the year.

Rays 5, Astros 0: Chris Archer had six and two-thirds shutout innings. Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches.

Twins 4, White Sox 2: Let’s hear it for the relatively old guys: Yohan Pino is 30, but he was still making his major league debut last night. Pino allowed two runs and struck out seven in seven innings. A Joe Mauer RBI double and a Kurt Suzuki sac fly in the eighth broke a 2-2- tie.

Athletics 4, Red Sox 2: Scott Kazmir allowed two runs over seven innings striking out eight and walking no one to win his ninth game and to keep the Red Sox offense searching for answers. Yoenis Cespedes homered. In June he is hitting .343 with four home runs and 12 RBI in 17 games.

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
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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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.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.