Royals

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 3, Athletics 2Pirates 11, Tigers 6: Put those two scores together and you have the Kansas City Royals in first place in the American League Central. It’s a half game, but at the rate the Royals are going they’re never going to lose a baseball game again. They’ve won eight in a row. They were eight games back three weeks ago. This is simply amazing. And with their bullpen and yet another injury to a Tigers starter, you have to give serious consideration to the fact that, yup, it’s sustainable.

Mets 5, Phillies 3: Anthony Recker hit a tiebreaking, three-run homer in the seventh to break and 0 for 18 slump. Jon Niese gave up two runs on five hits in seven to break a pretty lousy stretch of play of his own. A Phillies’ fan sitting in the outfield seats tried to make this one 5-4 by snagging a ball hit by Chase Utley with his cap, causing the drive to originally be called a two-run homer, but on review it was changed to a ground rule double, scoring only the one run. Probably didn’t matter as Ben Revere flew out to end the game right after that, but good effort, dude.

Orioles 11, Yankees 3: The Orioles won. That’s good! But Manny Machado went out with a sprained knee. That’s bad. But Chris Davis came off the bench to play third and managed to go 2 for 3 with a two-run homer. That’s good! But the home run contained potassium benzoate . . . [blank stare] . . . that’s bad.

Dodgers 6, Braves 2: Speaking of bad, that’s what the Braves are anymore. They have now dropped 10 of 12 and are four games behind Washington in the increasingly non-competitive NL East. This after new Dodger Kevin Correia allowed just one run over six innings. L.A., meanwhile, is five games up in the West.

Rays 7, Rangers 0: Drew Smyly picks up his first win as a Ray, tossing seven and two-thirds shutout innings while striking out nine. Less than two weeks ago he was the expendable guy in the David Price trade. Depending on how Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez go health-wise in the next couple of weeks, he’s going to be sorely missed in Detroit. Colby Lewis walked a lot of dudes. The Rangers threw the ball around and allowed three earned runs. It’s just ugly baseball in Texas these days.

Marlins 6, Cardinals 5: Giancarlo Stanton hit two homers. He also had a nice diving catch on the warning track in the fifth inning. Lazy dude didn’t pitch a shuout, though, so what good is he?

Twins 4, Astros 2: Joe Mauer had two hits, including an RBI single in the ninth to break a 2-2 tie. After the game Ron Gardenhire said Mauer could “get out of bed” and hit. Or, in this case, come off a 34-day stint on the disabled list.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1: Yovani Gallardo allowed one run over seven and struck out six. Asked after the game what was the difference here vs. his last not-so-good start: “Just command, to be honest.” I’m glad he’s being honest now. We’ve lived with your lies far too long, Yovani. It has to feel better to finally come clean about this. You weren’t fooling anyone. *hugs*

Mariners 11, Blue Jays 1: Felix Hernandez: seven innings, one run, three hits, 8Ks. Dude is clockwork. Plus he had 11 runs of support which is something he probably had to have someone explain to him for he is so unfamiliar with the concept.

Padres 4, Rockies 3: Yangervis Solarte hit a go-ahead, two-run home run in the seventh. The Padres bullpen struck out the last seven Rockies hitters of the game and nine of the final 12. Either the Rockies were seriously overmatched or else they all wanted to get back to their hotel to watch Shark Week.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.

Diamondbacks sign Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million deal

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 21:  Fernando Rodney #56 of the Miami Marlins pitches during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 21, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.

Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.

Hazen issued a statement following the signing:

With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.