Mike Trout Bow and Arrow

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 6, Mariners 5: Fernando Rodney was called on for the five-out save. He got the first two to close out the eighth and even did his little bow and arrow thing. Maybe a bit too early there, Fernando. In the ninth Albert Pujols doubled home Mike Trout to tie it, and mocked Rodney with his own bow-and-arrow move when he pulled into second. Trout shot one back at him from the dugout. Then, after a Josh Hamilton single, a couple of intentional walks and a double play, Grant Green singled home Hamilton for the winning run. It was the Angels’ 30th come-from-behind win this season. The A’s may be handing out whuppin’s, but a win is a win no matter what the margin of victory and there the Angels sit a game and a half back.

Athletics 10, Orioles 2: Here’s that whuppin’ I was taking about. The A’s have delivered a lot of whuppin’s this year. This was their 12th win by eight or more runs so far this season. No one else in baseball has more than five.

Rays 5, Twins 3: Five straight wins for the Rays and 14 of their last 18. Which is either just good enough to mess up the front office’s plans to trade David Price and Ben Zobrist by making the fans think the Rays have a chance or just good enough to enhance those plans by giving the front office some “well, we may not trade him after all . . .” leverage with potential trading partners. I have no idea how that all works. For all I know they make trades in the big leagues via some computerized system in which they get emails telling you “Congratulations: [Team] has accepted your offer.”

Astros 11, White Sox 7: A 17-hit attack by Houston. They had a 4-0 lead and then watched as the Sox tied it at seven but then they pulled away. This snaps a losing streak of four for Houston. Three games and that trainwreck of a draftee signing deadline on Friday afternoon.

Pirates 5, Rockies 3: Aggressive baserunning helped the Pirates as, on three occasions, a base runner took an extra base and then ended up scoring. Also helping: the fact that they were playing the Rockies. Following this sweep someone had better take Dick Monfort’s iPad away from him.

Nationals 5, Brewers 4: Milwaukee tied it in the top of the ninth but then Werth walks ’em off with an RBI double. After the game Werth talked about situations where runners are in scoring position and the game is on the line:

“That’s what it’s all about, right? It’s why we do this. If you find yourself in that situation and you don’t want to be there, I think you’re in the wrong line of work.”

Upon hearing that teammate Scott Hairston (.071/.118/.071 with runners in scoring position all year) turned in his bat and applied to grad school.

Red Sox 6, Royals 0: Jon Lester with eight shutout innings and eight strikeouts. That’s the third time in his last four starts he’s allowed no earned runs. He and the Red Sox may not be negotiating about his contract anymore, but he’s definitely making statements about it.

Braves 8, Phillies 2: Tommy La Stella drove in three runs and Chris Johnson hit a two-run homer. Dan Uggla watched the game with increasing anger from his couch, flexing his biceps and thinking about what could’ve been, probably. Of course he also spent some time thinking about how he’ll spend the $19 million he has coming from the Braves for the next year and a half, so it’s not too bad.

Yankees 3, Reds 2: Todd Frazier, Jay Bruce and Skip Schumaker were converging on a pop in shallow right. Two of them were playing positions they really probably shouldn’t be playing. The other one — Bruce — is a pretty nifty right fielder but had the farthest to go for the ball. Guess what happened? Yankees walk off and Brian McCann is credited with an RBI single off the nastiest lefty reliever going. Baseball is cool sometimes.

Tigers 5, Indians 1: Miguel Cabrera was 3 for 5 with a homer and three RBI. Drew Smyly allowed one run on four his over seven innings. Between this game, the Reds game and the birthday party I misguidedly held in my home for my nine-year-old son yesterday (eight additional nine-years-olds attending) it was just a horrible day for people from Ohio. I probably got the worst of it, though.

Marlins 3, Giants 2: Tim Lincecum threw great but he bounced one in the dirt in the seventh allowing the go-ahead run to score. Casey McGehee hit a homer. It was only his second of the year, but the two-run shot gives him 56 RBI on the year. That’s a pace of 94 RBI and only three homers. Which is pretty trippy. In 1957 Mickey Mantle drove in 94 homers with 34 homers. In 1960 he drove in 94 RBI with 40 homers. The takeaway: Casey McGehee just knows how to drive in runners better than Mickey Mantle ever did.

Blue Jays 9, Rangers 6: Melky Cabrera hit a tiebreaking homer in the seventh and was 3 for 5 with three RBI overall. He was 3 for 4 the day before. The Rangers scored a run on a balk in the sixth in which Mark Buehrle slipped and fell down. I bet the time it took him to set for that pitch, fall, get back up and deliver the subsequent pitch was still less than it takes half the guys in baseball to throw a single pitch.

Diamondbacks 3, Cubs 2: Not gonna say the Cubs are historically unlucky, but in this one the go-ahead run scored when Anthony Rizzo made an awesome catch on a foul ball. Except the catch took him and the ball out of play. Problem: there was a runner on third and when the defender takes the ball out of play, the runners are awarded a base. In this case, home.

Padres 2, Mets 1: Odrisamer Despaigne didn’t allow a hit until two outs in the eighth. Not bad for a guy who throws more junk than Lamont Sanford. After five starts he has a 1.31 ERA, though, so it’s not like it ain’t workin’.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Peter Bourjos hit an unexpected homer to tie it in the sixth off of Clayton Kershaw of all people, but then the Dodgers plated the winning run in the ninth rallying against Trevor Rosenthal. Kershaw’s run of seven starts allowing one or fewer runs comes to an end but a win makes everything shiny.*

*note: I watched “Serenity” again last night so I’m going to be sprinkling that stuff in for a few days. Can’t help myself.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.