And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 1, Reds 0: There were five shutouts in Major League Baseball yesterday. Three of those games and four of the teams involved were in the National League East. It’s as if a rift was created in the space-time continuum allowing for 1968 to become localized over certain portions of the eastern seaboard. I’m assuming red matter was involved somehow, but I need to consult Memory Alpha to get the details down accurately. Here it was all zeroes until Freddie Freeman singled home the game’s only run in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the 10th.

Phillies 2, Diamondbacks 0: A.J. Burnett tossed eight shutout innings to outduel Brandon McCarthy, who struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings. The Diamondbacks are now 8-20 and have a staggering -59 run differential.

Mets 4, Marlins 0: Quote of the day goes to David Wright, talking about Dillon Gee: “I’m not sure if Dillon is all that sexy of a pitcher. He just goes out there and gets the job done.” (1) I’d say three hits over eight shutout innings is sexy; and (2) even if it isn’t, someone who just goes out and gets the job done is often way better to have than someone who is sexy. The more superficial aspects of sexy go away after a while. Having someone who simply has their crap together is highly underrated.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 0: The starting pitcher was fantastic, shutting out the opposition until the bullpen carried the shutout the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the shortstop had two homers.

Cubs 4, Brewers 0: The starting pitcher was fantastic, shutting out the opposition until the bullpen carried the shutout the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the shortstop had two homers. No, this is not a copy-and-paste error. It was basically the same game as the Cards-Pirates thing. Only difference: Jason Hammel pitched seven shutout innings to Adam Wainwright’s eight and Starlin Castro’s two homers were solo shots while Jhonny Peralta drove in four. In other news, Hammel has four wins for a team that only has eight overall.

Astros 5, Athletics 1: Collin McHugh is Lou Gehrig to Scott Feldman’s Wally Pipp. Well, maybe not exactly — the Astros will find a place for Feldman when he comes back while someone like Lucas Harrell gets bumped — but there’s no question McHugh is parlaying his injury-necessitated callup into a full time gig. Here he allowed one run on two hits over eight and two-thirds while striking out seven. In his first start he shut out the Mariners into the seventh inning while striking out 12. Strong stuff.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Padres 4, Nationals 2: Ian Kennedy gave up three hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone over seven, retiring 16 straight batters at one point. Cameron Maybin made his first big league start of the season and had a couple of hits. The Nats couldn’t have had a worse couple of days. They put Bryce Harper on the DL and then their starter for this one, Taylor Jordan, showed up with the flu. He attempted to pitch but had nothing.

White Sox 9, Rays 2: Jose Abreu keeps doing it. He homered and drove in four, bringing his totals to ten bombs and 31 RBI, both of which are records for he first month of the season for a rookie. And true, Abreu is a much more seasoned rookie than most, but the guy whose records he broke in both of those categories is Albert Pujols, who was no typical rookie himself.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 1: The Rockies are quietly putting together a nice season so far. They’ve won four series in a row and are tied with the Dodgers for second place in the division at 14-12. Jorge De La Rosa allowed one run over seven and Josh Rutledge had a three-run homer.

Giants 4, Indians 1: Brandon Hicks hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth with the score tied 1-1. That gave the Giants a series sweep. Not bad for a dude who signed a minor league deal and wouldn’t even be here if Marco Scutaro wasn’t hurt.

Mariners 6, Rangers 5: Kyle Seager had two homers including a three-run shot in the eighth to complete the M’s come-from-behind victory. Seager is on fire: he has five home runs in four games, and he’s had at least two hits in all of those games as well.

Royals 9, Orioles 3:  Have yourself a day Omar Infante. The Royals second baseman drove in six, with an RBI groundout in the first, a sac fly in the third, a two-run double in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh. James Shields tossed seven innings of three-hit ball.

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 1: The Blue Jays salvage one and end a four-game losing streak. The Jays’ lineup featured six players from the Dominican Republic, which is believed to be a record. I would like to think that this was John Gibbons’ direct rebuke to the unnamed Jays scout who was reported to have said “this team has too many Latinos on it to win” at some point last year.

Yankees 3, Angels 2: Tanaka struck out 11, Teixeira hit a homer from the left side of the plate and the Yankees scored what proved to be the winning run via a passed ball and a wild pitch.

Tigers vs. Twins: POSTPONED:

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.” 

 

Astros owner Crane expects to hire new manager by Feb. 3

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HOUSTON (AP) — Houston Astros owner Jim Crane expects to hire a new manager by Feb. 3.

The Astros need a new manager and general manager after AJ Hinch and Jeff Luhnow were fired Monday, hours after both were suspended by Major League Baseball for a year for the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Crane said Friday that he’s interviewed a number of candidates this week and has some more to talk to in the coming days.

Crane refused to answer directly when asked if former Astros player and Hall of Famer Craig Biggio was a possibility for the job. But he did say that he had spoken to Biggio, fellow Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell and former Astros star Lance Berkman in the days since the firings.

“We’ve talked to all of our Killer B’s,” Crane said referring to the nickname the three shared while playing for the Astros. “They’ve contacted me and they’ve all expressed that they would like to help. Berkman, Bagwell, Biggio have all called and said: ‘hey, if there’s anything I can do, I’m here for you.’”

“So we’ll continue to visit with those guys and see if there’s something there.”

Crane says his list is still rather extensive and that he hopes to have it narrowed down by the end of next week. He added that he expects most of Hinch’s staff to stay in place regardless of who is hired.

Crane has enlisted the help of three or four employees to help him with the interview process, including some in Houston’s baseball operations department.

“We compare notes,” he said. “I’ve learned a long time ago that you learn a lot if four or five people talk to a key candidate and you get a lot more information. So that’s what we’re doing.”

Crane’ top priority is finding a manager with spring training less than a month away, but he said he would start focusing on the search for a general manager after he hires a manager. He expects to hire a GM before the end of spring training.

“We should have another good season with the team pretty much intact … so I don’t know why a manager wouldn’t want to come in and manage these guys,” he said. “They’re set to win again.”

The penalties announced by MLB commissioner Rob Manfred on Monday came after he found illicit use of electronics to steal signs in Houston’s run to the 2017 World Series championship and again in the 2018 season. The Astros were also fined $5 million, which is the maximum allowed under the Major League Constitution, and must forfeit their next two first- and second-round amateur draft picks.

The investigation found that the Astros used the video feed from a center field camera to see and decode the opposing catcher’s signs. Players banged on a trash can to signal to batters what was coming, believing it would improve the batter’s odds of getting a hit.

With much still in flux, Crane was asked what qualities are most important to him in his next manager.

“Someone mature that can handle the group,” he said. “Someone that’s had a little bit of experience in some areas. We’ve just got to find a leader that can handle some pressure and there’s going to be a little bit of pressure from where this team has been in the last few months.”

Despite his comment about experience, Crane said having been a major league manager before is not mandatory to him.

“We made some mistakes,” he said. “We made a decision to let that get behind us. We think the future is bright. We’ll make the adjustments … people think we’re in crisis. I certainly don’t believe that.”