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And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 2, Athletics 1: Felix Hernandez allowed one run over eight to beat Jon Lester who allowed two runs over eight. This is exactly why the A’s — and everyone else for that matter — wants to avoid the wild card. Because there’s a chance the M’s will have the other one and your whole season will depend on outdueling Felix Hernandez.

Braves 7, Phillies 4: I’d say the Braves scored a week’s worth of runs here, but that may be generous given the week they’ve had. But hey, who am I to be pessimistic? Oh, wait, that’s exactly who I am to be pessimistic. Just so you know, though: I’ve been this way about this team since the Reagan Administration, so if they somehow win the wild card and actually go someplace in the playoffs, I fully reserve the right to immediately get excited and confident and stuff. Then when they crap out, I get to act like it was inevitable. As a Braves fan, this is our way.

Cardinals 1, Pirates 0: St. Louis won on a ninth inning walkoff single from Peter Bourjos. It was against Mark Melancon, who Clint Hurdle went to (a) on the road in a a tie game; and (b) stretched for two innings. Which I think is fantastic and I wish more managers would do. Can’t blame Hurdle for the strategy. But it is, unfortunately, a strategy that managers rarely if ever use these days, which suggests Hurdle was a bit desperate to get the win in order to avoid the sweep. Or maybe he’s not desperate. Because this sounds like a man who has his priorities straight:

We’re not going to back down. We’ll take the day off. We’re going to catch our breath and try and set some stakes down in Chicago.”

I have to assume that was intended by Hurdle to be “steaks” and not “stakes.” And if it was “steaks,” he’s my kind of manager. Hope you had a nice time last night, guys.

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1: Brian McCann with the big night: three singles, a homer and three driven in. Random from the game story: the Sox and Yankees are the two lowest scoring teams in the AL. I wonder what the betting line on that would’ve been back in March.

Nationals 8, Dodgers 5: A wild one. And not just because of this guy:

source:

A fourteen inning affair that saw the Nats plate three in the top of the ninth, the Dodgers tie it up in the bottom of the ninth on an error, a two-run Carl Crawford homer in the bottom of the 12th to keep the Dodgers alive, and then a 14th-inning rally to give the Nats the game. Adam LaRoche drove in five after entering the game as a pinch hitter in the ninth, for cryin’ out loud. Someone go check on my friend in the black shorts there, though. I’m worried that he couldn’t handle this kind of game.

Orioles 6, Reds 0: Miguel Gonzalez with the four-hitter for his first career shutout. Yesterday my girlfriend randomly noticed that she was getting all kinds of email offers for late season Reds tickets. There’s a reason for that.

Rockies 9, Giants 2: Two homers for Chris Dickerson and Nolan Arenado hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the fifth. Despite the Rockies’ crap year and the Giants recent rebound, Colorado takes the season series from San Francisco, 10-9.

Indians 7, Tigers 0: Danny Salazar with an eight-hit shutout in which he struck out nine and didn’t walk a batter. This on the heels of his five scoreless innings against Kansas City last week and a three in his start against the Astros before that. Justin Verlander, however, struggled into the seventh and ultimately ran out of gas.

Mets 4, Marlins 3: Matt den Dekker had three hits, including a bunt single in the eighth, after which he came around to score the go-ahead run on Travis d’Arnaud’s double. Giancarlo Stanton homered for the third straight game.

Blue Jays 7, Rays 4: Homers from Dioner Navarro and Edwin Encarnacion and a 4 for 5 day from Adam Lind helped the Jays win this one, ensuring their first series win at Tampa Bay since April 2007.

Cubs 6, Brewers 2: Jorge Soler had a two-run double and now has ten RBI in his first seven games. The Cubs sweep the reeling Brewers. They now sport a mere half-game lead over Atlanta for the second wild card.

Royals 4, Rangers 1: Alex Gordon hit a two-run homer and Jason Vargas shut the Rangers out for six and two-thirds. The sweep. I know Dallas always basically stops paying attention to the Rangers in August and September in favor of the Cowboys — and, heck, probably does so to some extent even in the middle of the summer — but I have to imagine that is more pronounced this year than ever.

Diamondbacks 6, Padres 1: Daniel Hudson made his first big league appearance since June 26, 2012, tossing a shutout inning. Two Tommy John surgeries later and the guy who showed so much promise is back. Here’s hoping that elbow stays healthy. And how about this quote:

“Even if I go out tomorrow and it blows again, it was all worth it,” he said. “It was a long time coming. Thankfully today came.”

Man.

Twins 11, White Sox 4: Kennys Vargas homered for the second consecutive game and drove in three runs. It’s been a bleak year in Minnesota, but Vargas’ .319/.340/.511 line since being called up is promising.

Astros 4, Angels 1: Chris Carter socked two homers and drove in three. He has 35 on the year — one behind Nelson Cruz and Giancarlo Stanton for the major league lead — and has 22 homers and 52 RBIs since July 1. Not too shabby.

Pirates sign left-hander Cory Luebke

Cory Luebke Getty
Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
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Eric O'Flaherty wasn’t the only reclamation project added by the Pirates today, as the club also announced that they have signed left-hander Cory Luebke to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.

Luebke once looked like a solid rotation piece for the Padres, but he hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since April 27, 2012. He’s undergone a pair of Tommy John surgeries since. Now 30 years old, he logged seven innings in the minors last season before requiring a procedure to remove loose bodies around a nerve in his forearm. The Padres cut ties with him in November after declining a $7.5 million club option for 2016.

It’s hard to count on much from Luebke at this point, but he told Adam Berry of MLB.com that he feels healthy and hopes to compete for a bullpen job in the spring.

White Sox reportedly considering Ian Desmond

Ian Desmond
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
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Many have speculated on a potential match between the White Sox and Ian Desmond this winter, but we haven’t heard much in the way of legitimate interest. That could be changing with spring training right around the corner, as MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that Chicago is among the teams considering the free agent shortstop.

After turning the page on Alexei Ramirez this offseason, the White Sox currently have Tyler Saladino in line to serve as their starting shortstop in 2016. The 26-year-old is considered a strong defender, but he batted .225/.267/.335 with four homers over 254 plate appearances as a rookie in 2015. Desmond is coming off a nightmare of a walk year and has seen his strikeout rate climb by 8.5 percent since 2012, but he possesses more offensive upside and it’s not hard to imagine a bounceback campaign while calling U.S. Cellular Field home.

Similar to fellow free agents Yovani Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, Desmond is attached to draft pick compensation after turning down a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from the Nationals. It’s a big reason why a potential deal with the Rays is reported to be a “long shot.” Chicago’s No. 10 overall pick in this year’s draft is protected, so they would give up their No. 28 overall pick if they sign a qualifying offer free agent like Desmond.

Pirates sign reliever Eric O’Flaherty

Eric O'Flaherty
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Left-hander Eric O'Flaherty has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Pirates that includes an invitation to spring training.

O’Flaherty was one of the best relievers in the league for the Braves from 2009-2013, posting a combined 1.99 ERA in 249 innings, but Tommy John elbow surgery derailed his career and he struggled for the A’s and Mets in 2015 while dealing with shoulder problems.

It’s tough to know if O’Flaherty is healthy at this point, but the 31-year-old southpaw certainly has a chance to be a nice reclamation project for the Pirates on a no-risk contract.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

Mariano Rivera
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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.