And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 4, Royals 1: You can’t stop Corey Kluber, you can only hope to contain him. And I don’t mean that in the ironic, 1990s-Dan Patrick way. I really mean it. He allowed only one run on four hits while pitching into the ninth while striking out 10 in this one, but he’s been doing this stuff all year. His record is only 8-6, but he has struck out 137 dudes in 125.2 innings while walking only 30. He’s sporting a 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.18.

Marlins 8, ,Cardinals 4: Henderson Alvarez is the National League’s Corey Kluber (i.e. that dude you really didn’t realize was having a fantastic season, but by gum he sure is. One run allowed in seven innings here, a 2.27 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP on the season. While his record is nothing to write home about, the Marlins have won his last ten starts.

Angels 6, Astros 1: Garrett Richards allowed one run in seven and a third while striking out 11 and notching his tenth win of the year. His ERA is 2.71, his strikeout rate is great, he has the lowest batting average against in the AL and he doesn’t walk too many dudes. Didn’t make the All-Star team, though, because. Well, I don’t know exactly. He’s in that final five thing with a bunch of other pitchers, including our friend Corey Kluber, but gee zooey, what’s a guy got to do?

Pirates 6, Phillies 2: The sweep. Jeff Locke gave up two runs — only one earned — on three hits and a walk in eight innings. Both Marlin Byrd and A.J. Burnett returned to face their former mates in Pittsburgh. It went better for Byrd, who homered, than it did for Burnett.

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 1: The Braves’ nine-game winning streak comes to an end thanks in part to a two-run homer to Paul Goldschmidt. B.J. Upton’s 11-game hitting streak came to an end too, thanks in part to B.J. Upton.

Mets 8, Rangers 4: The Mets scored five in the first and cruised from there. Which is probably the least Mets thing to happen in quite some time, but every dog has his day. Anthony Recker hit a three-run homer in the first. Recker? Damn near killed him! Wait.

Reds 4, Brewers 2: Jay Bruce was 0 for his last 26 before hitting a tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth. That’s two of three from first place Milwaukee and 10 of 15 overall for the Reds. I feel like this NL Central race is gonna get freaky and crazy within the next month or so.

Nationals 2, Cubs 1: Denard Span’s wheels helped win this one. He led off the eighth with a hit that would’ve been a single for most guys but he busted hard out of the box and just beat the tag sliding into second. Two outs and an intentional walk later, Ryan Zimmerman singled in Span for the go-ahead run. Otherwise, a nice pitching duel between Jake Arrieta and Jordan Zimmermann.

White Sox 1, Mariners 0: Hector Noesi is on his third team of the season and yesterday he faced his first team this season, shutting them out into the seventh inning. The Sox had just two hits and scored their lone run on a wild pitch. In other news, how a 1-0 game with only seven hits in it lasts close to three hours is a bloody mystery.

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

Yankees 9, Twins 7: The Yankees took a 9-0 lead and then held on just hard enough as the Twins charged back. Jacoby Ellsbury homered, doubled and drove in four. More impressive: Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki each had three hits. Not bad for a couple of dead guys.

Dodgers 8, Rockies 2:  Matt Kemp had four hits and drove in two, Adrian Gonzalez drove in three and Juan Uribe had three hits as L.A. takes three of four. Josh Beckett allowed three hits in five scoreless, but still threw 82 pitches and it took him around an hour and a half to get that far. This is somewhat comforting to me. I had begun to grow discombobulated by quick and efficient Josh Beckett starts. This, however unwatchable it was, does restore some semblance of normalcy to the cosmos.

Giants 5, Padres 3: Tim Lincecum would very much like to pitch against the Padres forever. Two starts after no-hitting them, he allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. Overall, Lincecum had tossed 23.1 scoreless innings before Brooks Conrad hit a homer in the seventh. After the game Bruce Bochy and Lincecum each talked about how this resurgence may be the real deal, and that after several years of talking about how he has to make adjustments and learn to reinvent himself, he finally has. I hope so, because I really think baseball is more fun when The Freak is dominating, but I think I need to see more than three starts against poor offenses before I’ll buy in.

Athletics 4, Blue Jays 2: Jeff Samardzija made his Oakland debut and he immediately showed why the A’s wanted him. He allowed one run on four hits and a walk in seven innings, helping the A’s finish off the sweep against the Jays. Samardzija also learned yesterday that he made the NL All-Star team. He won’t pitch, however, and he’ll actually be in the AL dugout. He’ll still get more run support doing that than he ever got in Chicago.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: The O’s and Red Sox played a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and then went 12 innings here. The Orioles blew a 6-1 lead in the seventh but then David Lough hit a triple in the 12th and then scored on a J.J. Hardy single to give Baltimore their sixth win in seven games.

Rays 7, Tigers 3: Rick Porcello had been on a roll, but his roll was slowed by the Rays, who scored seven runs on 11 hits off him. David Price, in contrast, was in control until the ninth when he gave up a leadoff homer and then lost his mojo and couldn’t get the complete game, but by then it was academic. Tampa Bay took three of four from the Tigers and have won 8 of 10 overall.

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.