And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Tigers 3: Watched most of this one as I painted a couple of rooms in my house. Two highlights of the game for me were (1) overhearing my girlfriend use some really bad language the second or third time the Tigers left the bases loaded; and (2) Tigers color commentator Rod Allen, when describing Prince Fielder’s swing on his homer, say “he lifts, and separates.” So I guess Prince Fielder is now a bra. As for that first part, it happened so often that when Mark Trumbo finally hit the walkoff homer in the 13th it had been three hours since she had written the game off.

Rays 8, Athletics 1: Roberto Hernandez — who, if he had any style, should call himself “Fauxsto Carmona” — got his first win since coming out as Roberto Hernandez. The A’s, like the Braves, were once hot and now are not. From the AP Gamer:

One day after having a DJ play music in the clubhouse to help relax his team, Maddon had a magician doing card tricks Sunday.

“It’s about just keeping the guys ready, keeping the guys loose,” Maddon said. “I want them to be prepared mentally, and not be exhausted mentally whenever they go out on the field. Things like that, I do things to break it up.”

Maddon is like the CEO at a 1999 dotcom startup. “Look, guys! We have a foosball table! And a free soda! It’s not work if it’s fun!

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 4: Colorado’s eight game winning streak comes to an end.  Didi Gregorius hit a home run and singled to start a two-run rally in the ninth inning. And he still has a name that sounds more like a character from “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” than a ballplayer, but that’s OK.

Rangers 11, Mariners 3: Leonys Martin, Mitch Moreland and Adrian Beltre each hit homes. Nelson Cruz did too, but his was a grand slam. The sweep.

Indians 5, Astros 4: Drew Stubbs made a slick over-the-shoulder catch in the first inning which turned into a double play, halting any further damage in a rocky start for Ubaldo Jimenez. He later homered. Thinking about creating a marco that writes” ____ take two of three from Houston” with one keystroke.

Twins 5, White Sox 3: Everyone had the Twins at 8-7 through 15 games, right? The White Sox are losers of 9 of 12.

Giants 5, Padres 0: Seven shutout innings for Barry Zito who has apparently chosen to alternate good and bad starts as opposed to go on extended hot and cold streaks. Always keeping us guessing. He won’t be pigeonholed. Buster Posey hit his first homer of the year. And he was still out at second in the 2010 NLDS.

Brewers 4, Cubs 2: Seven wins in a row for the Brewers, who started so poorly. Ryan Braun hit a home run. He was later ejected for tossing his bat. And because Major League Baseball has it in for him, man.

Pirates 4, Braves 2: The Buccos take three of four from the previously-hot Braves, powered by two RBI from the previously-ice cold Clint Barmes because baseball. And because of those yellow caps and pullover jerseys, but I went over that last week.

Royals 4, Red Sox 2; Royals 5, Red Sox 4: The Royals sweep the doubleheader, winning the second game on a bases loaded walk in the 10th. Have a day Greg Holland: saves in both games with five total strikeouts.

Mets 2, Nationals 0: Dillion Gee gets his first win with a nice start and the Mets take two of three from the Nats. They were aided by Jayson Werth not really thinking.

Dodgers 7, Orioles 4: L.A. snaps a six-game skid. Mark Ellis drove in three. Jake Arrieta walked the ballpark and hit a batter.

Reds 10, Marlins 6: Joey Votto started the year slow but he had three hits and a homer on Saturday and did it again on Sunday. Don’t hate the Marlins. They’re performing a fantasy team assistance service here.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 4: J.P. Arencibia hit his seventh homer of the year, helping the Jays avoid the sweep. Brett Lawrie and Melky Cabrera had good games too. All three of those have been mentioned in HardballTalk posts for either being in trouble or angering people for some reason over the past few years than for baseball stuff. Viva Evil.

Phillies 7, Cardinals 3:  Erik Kratz scored the tying run in the seventh and hit a three-run homer to break things open in the eighth. Michael Young has a 12 game hitting streak. He was also called “a professional hitter” by Dan Shulman once. Now that he’s actually hitting well he’ll probably lose that moniker soon.

Six of seven players decline $17.9 million qualifying offers

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Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu was the only one of seven eligible players to accept his $17.9 million qualifying offer. Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock, Craig Kimbrel, Patrick Corbin, Yasmani Grandal, and Dallas Keuchel each rejected his, officially making them free agents. Teams that had their QO’s rejected will recoup a draft pick once the player signs elsewhere.

That Harper rejected his QO comes as no surprise, as he is expected to strike perhaps the largest free agent contract in baseball history. Though the free agent market has been less lucrative lately than in previous years, the combination of Harper’s elite talent and his age — he’s only 26 years old — makes him a primary target for more than a handful of teams. Harper reportedly turned down a 10-year, $300 million contract extension offer from the Nationals, so that would seem to be a baseline.

It is also not surprising that Kimbrel, 30, turned down his QO from the Red Sox. Despite a so-so showing during a championship run, Kimbrel is still young and talented enough to land another lucrative contract on the free agent market.

Keuchel bet on himself in turning down the Astros’ QO. He’s been solid since winning the AL Cy Young Award in 2015, owning a 3.77 ERA across 83 starts over the last three seasons. However, he turns 31 years old at the beginning of 2019, and his already mediocre strikeout rate declined even further this past season, so there may be some skepticism about his ability to perform over the course of a multi-year deal. Keuchel will still get one eventually, but his market may be slower to develop.

Pollock, soon 31 as well, will be the outfielder most coveted once Harper is off the market. When he’s healthy, he’s a dynamic five-tool player. However, Pollock hasn’t played in more than 113 games in a season since 2015, so that may be a red flag. Pollock ended 2018 batting .257/.316/.484 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI, 61 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 460 plate appearances while playing above-average defense according to various defensive metrics.

Grandal, 30, could’ve gone either way with his QO, but ultimately chose to decline. He had a disappointing postseason, both offensively and defensively. Given how humans are prone to recency bias, it stood to reason that his October performance could have hurt his market. The catching position, however, is rather weak and Grandal stands out in a market that is otherwise focused on Marlins catcher J.T. Realmuto. Grandal did swat 24 home runs with an .815 OPS in 140 games for the Dodgers this past season.

Corbin, 29, was the most obvious QO decline after Harper. The lefty is coming off of a career year, finishing with a 3.15 ERA and a 246/48 K/BB ratio in exactly 200 innings. Corbin is the best free agent pitcher on the market this offseason. The Yankees have been seriously linked with Corbin even before the season ended.

Ryu likely chose to accept his QO because of his age and injury history. It would have been a gamble to pursue a multi-year deal. He did, however, make 15 starts during the regular season to the tune of a 1.97 ERA with 89 strikeouts and 15 walks in 82 1/3 innings. Those are great numbers. And most clubs would have been smart enough to look beyond his 5.21 ERA in the postseason, which has more to do with a leaky bullpen than his own personal failings. Still, it’s hard to fault Ryu for playing it safe and taking the guaranteed $17.9 million for one year.