And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Brewers 4: Albert Pujols came up big — two homers including a grand slam — and the Cards swept the division-leading Brewers. Yes, that’s cool, but some perspective: Even if the Brewers go .500 in their remaining games the Cardinals would have to go 20-5 to tie them. Ten-game deficits are a lulu.

Dodgers 6, Pirates 4: Dana Eveland was impressive, allowing only one run on six hits in eight innings. Which is great for me because I have an excuse to trot out the observation I make any time I have occasion to talk about Dana Eveland: If you didn’t know he was a pitcher and you simply heard the name, you’d think that “Dana Eveland” was an actress from the 1940s who used to play second banana in musicals and light comedies. She was under contract with Warner Brothers but was loaned out to MGM on occasion.  Try it: list off a leading man and a leading woman of that era and then say “and also starring Dana Eveland!”  It totally works.

Athletics 7, Indians 0: Gio Gonzalez and Craig Breslow combined to shut out the Indians. Of course, as is usually the case, it wasn’t an equal combination, what with Gonzalez pitching seven innings and Breslow two.  Games like these are a lot like when Hunter and Dee Dee used to take down some crime boss. Hunter would shoot 16 dudes, take a bullet in the arm and still find time to crack wise. Meanwhile, Dee Dee would — especially if it was sweeps week — be posing as a stripper or a prostitute or something and would maybe — maybe — hit one of the bad guys over the head with a pitcher of beer or her purse or something.  At the end, Captain Devane would still say “great job, you two” as if it were somehow a matter of equal effort.  What? don’t look at me that way.  I never said that 1980s action/adventure shows were enlightened. But I grew up on ’em, OK? They’re part of my cultural DNA.

Royals 11, Tigers 8: The first line of the AP recap says it all about this ugly-ass game:

Danny Duffy overthrew his catcher on an intentional walk, and Alcides Escobar struck out on a pitch that hit him in the shoulder.

Jeff Francoeur was 3 for 5 with a homer, a double and three driven in. His assessment of the game: “You saw a lot of stuff.”

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Brett Lawrie broke a tie with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth.  Kid is a total boss.

Phillies 6, Reds 4: Vance Worley does nothin’ but win baseball games. Ryan Howard hit a home run — his 30th — giving him the 30 home run, 100 RBI combination that so many of you are impressed with.

Mets 7, Marlins 5: Miguel Batista makes his Mets debut and its a good one: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER.

Braves 5, Nationals 2: Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered to kick things off and Tim Hudson carried things through. The Nats actually scored a run off Jonny Venters. You don’t see that happen very often.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: A.J. Burnett didn’t win, but he kept his team in the game, and that’s something he hadn’t done for a long time. Things got scary in the ninth as the Sox loaded the bases and Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate. But dude, Mariano Rivera.  Also: 4:21. Four a nine-inning game with six total runs scored. My lord.

Rangers 7, Rays 2: Two solo homers for Ian Kinsler and a nice outing for C.J. Wilson, who was perfect through five innings but injured his index finger when he reached for a grounder with his pitching hand. He stayed in for a while, but it was buggin’ him too much.

Angels 4, Mariners 3: Ervin Santana walked seven, but you can get away with that against teams like the Mariners.

Ohtani keeping watch on Angels’ offseason moves from afar

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SAN DIEGO – Even though Shohei Ohtani is back in Japan for the offseason, he has been in frequent contact with Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian about the team’s offseason moves.

“We talk a lot. He’s asking me daily who we’re getting,” Minasian said during baseball’s winter meetings. “He’s into it. We have a lot of players like that. Mike (Trout) and Anthony (Rendon) are like that. I think it’s a very motivated group.

“They want to see activity. They want to see the organization making a commitment to making the team better. We’ll see how it shakes out when we get to spring training what exactly we have, but we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to improve,” he said.

Minasian also reiterated his support for Ohtani taking whatever role he deems best for Japan during the World Baseball Classic in March. Ohtani said he is open to being a reliever.

“I don’t have any issue with whatever he does. He’s not one I’m worried about,” Minasian said. “He knows what he needs to do to get ready for the season. I know when the bell rings, he’ll be ready to go. There’s a comfort and trust to that.”

The Angels’ offseason moves, their future owner and the team’s performance will all be under the microscope as the two-way Japanese superstar begins his final season before hitting free agency.

Ohtani agreed to a $30 million contract for next season in September. After winning the AL MVP award in 2021, Ohtani finished second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge after going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA on the mound and batting .273 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs.

Despite Arte Moreno putting the team up for sale, the Angels have been proactive since the season ended. They acquired outfielder Hunter Renfroe from the Milwaukee Brewers and infielder Gio Urshela from the Minnesota Twins. They upgraded the rotation by signing Tyler Anderson and added to the bullpen with Carlos Estevez.

Minasian said the message from ownership has been business as usual.

“I know we’ve spent more money, I guess. But I mean nothing’s been drastically different for me. I think there have been more things that have presented themselves that made sense, compared maybe in previous offseasons, where we were and what we were trying to do,” Minasian said.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that multiple groups have expressed interest in the Angels with a possibility that a sale could be completed by opening day.

Manager Phil Nevin also is on a one-year deal as the Angels try to end a string of seven consecutive losing seasons and eight consecutive years out of the postseason after going 73-89 this past season. Both are the longest active skids in the majors.