And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 6, Cardinals 3: Erik Bedard struck out 11 men in five innings. At one point he fanned seven in a row. Overall, Pirates pitchers struck out 17 Cardinals. Pedro Alvarez went 2 for 4 with a homer. Two weeks ago he was hitting .074. Now he’s at .257 and he’s slugging over .600 on the year.

Marlins 3, Giants 2: The sweep for Miami. Pretty disastrous series for the Giants too, what with losing Sandoval and all. Not that this is anything new: As my friend Wendy Thurm put it yesterday: “2 years in a row, Marlins come to SF in May, Giants roll over dead and their best hitter gets really hurt.”

Rays 4, Mariners 3: The Rays sweep, win their 11th of 12 and now sit at 18-8, the top of the baseball world. The Mariners: a six game losing streak.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: Hit this one up yesterday. Note: Closers who implode but don’t, by virtue of a just-in-time-hook,  give up that one last hit that allows the tying run to score aren’t officially given a blown save.  They need one, so let’s call such outings “Marmols,” shall we?

Phillies 4, Braves 0: I hit this one up yesterday too. Really, I don’t mean to belittle Joe Blanton’s three-hit shutout, but the fact is that you can’t throw an 88-pitch shutout unless you’re (a) Greg Maddux; or (b) you have some help from some mailed-in at bats from the opposition. I’ve been watching the Braves for 27 years. They are NOTORIOUS getaway day sandbaggers. I don’t think they really mean to. It’s just in the team’s friggin’ DNA.

Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1: Ross Detwiler keeps up his good work, allowing one run over six and a third and sending his ERA down even farther below 2.00. Bryce Harper hit another double, driving in the game-winning run.  The Nats are slowly but surely pulling out of their brief funk and now get a chance to face the Phillies over the weekend and see if they can truly lay a claim on the NL East.

Indians 7, White Sox 5:  Jason Kipnis hit a triple, a homer and drove in four. Justin Masterson gets his first win of the year.

Royals 4, Yankees 3: Danny Duffy pitches well, Mike Moustakas drives in three. Jeter, by the way, went 4 for 5 and is hitting .404 on the year. But really, it’s not like anything in this game matters as much as the Rivera news. Damn.

Blue Jays 5, Angels 0: Like Joe Blanton, Brandon Morrow threw a three-hit shutout. Took him 102 pitches, not 88. I think that means something. Maybe I’m wrong.

Yankees acquire James Paxton from Mariners

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The Yankees announced that the club has acquired starter James Paxton from the Mariners in exchange for three prospects: pitcher Justus Sheffield, outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams, and pitcher Erik Swanson.

Paxton, 30, has been among the game’s better starters over the past few years. In 2018, he went 11-6 with a 3.76 ERA and a 208/42 K/BB ratio in 160 1/3 innings. The lefty has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining after earning $4.9 million this past season.

Sheffield, 22, is the headliner in the Mariners’ return. He made his major league debut in September for the Yankees, pitching 2 2/3 innings across three appearances. Two of those appearances were scoreless; in the third, he gave up a three-run home run to J.D. Martinez, certainly not an uncommon result among pitchers. MLB Pipeline rates Sheffield as the Yankees’ No. 1 prospect and No. 31 overall in baseball.

Thompson-Williams, 23, was selected by the Yankees in the fifth round of the 2016 draft. This past season, between Single-A Charleston and High-A Tampa, he hit .299/.363/.546 with 22 home runs, 74 RBI, 63 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases in 415 plate appearances. He was not among the Yankees’ top-30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

Swanson, 25, was selected by the Yankees in the eighth round of the 2014 draft. He spent most of his 2018 campaign between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Overall, he posted a 2.66 ERA with a 139/29 K/BB ratio in 121 2/3 innings. MLB Pipeline rated him No. 22 in the Yankees’ system.

This trade comes as no surprise as the Yankees clearly wanted to upgrade the starting rotation and the Mariners seemed motivated to trade Paxton this offseason. To the Mariners’ credit, they got a solid return for Paxton, as Sheffield likely becomes the organization’s No. 1 prospect. The only worries about this trade for the Yankees is how Paxton will fare in the more hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium compared to the spacious Safeco Field, and Paxton’s durability. Paxton has made more than 20 starts in a season just twice in his career — the last two years (24 and 28). The Yankees are likely not done adding, however. Expect even more new faces before the start of spring training.