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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 4, Cubs 1: Max Scherzer was on last night, striking out 11 and allowing one run on two hits over seven. With this start Kyle Hendricks‘ ERA jumped from 2.90 to 3.05, making him the only Cubs starter to have an ERA over 3.00. Should the Cubs DFA him now or give him a chance to rebuild value for a possible dump trade?

Reds 9, Braves 8: This was MLB.tv’s “Free Game of the Day” yesterday. It was overpriced. The two worst teams in the NL fought sloppily and inconclusively for eight innings until Tyler Holt of the Reds drew a bases-loaded walk off Braves reliever Arodys Vizcaino in the ninth to force in the go-ahead run. Vizcaino walked three guys that inning. Braves pitchers walked eight overall. On the bright side, the game only took three and a half hours. Pass me the bottle.

White Sox 10, Tigers 9: Pass Brad Ausmus the bottle next. His Tigers led 7-0 after three innings, let the Chisox get to within one run a couple of times but then took a 9-7 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth. Francisco Rodriguez blew that one and onto extras they rolled. Anibal Sanchez, making his third relief appearance but first in five days, pitched a clean 10th and 11th, but gave up a leadoff double to J.B. Shuck, a sacrifice and then a game-winning single from Adam Eaton in the 12th and that was all she wrote. He gets the loss here, but this loss truly had many fathers. The win obscures the fact that James Shields was lit the hell up in five innings of work for Chicago and now has a 16.71 ERA in two starts since coming over from the Padres.

Royals 2, Indians 1: Whit Merrifield, who until this game I assumed was a banker from a wealthy but cold New England family and perhaps had a distinguished rowing career at prep school before some nasty business at Cambridge put an end to all that, hit his first major league home run. Edinson Volquez pitched seven shutout innings. Then, after a series of adventures between this unlikely pair, Volquez introduced his lovely sister to Merrifield who, for the first time, knew what it meant to be alive and knew what it meant to feel love. His father would no doubt disapprove, but Whit had spent far too many years of his life trying to please Whit Merrifield Sr. Now it was time to live his own life.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 2: Zack Greinke beat his old buddies after allowing two runs on seven hits over seven. Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb each went deep. Greinke was aided by his defense here, with an excellent grab at the wall from left fielder Peter O’Brien, an over-the-shoulder, back-to-the-infield catch from Jean Segura and a diving grab from Michael Bourn with the bases loaded in the top of the eighth which saved at least two runs and might have cleared the bases if he didn’t make the catch.

Phillies 7, Blue Jays 0: The Phils snap a four-game losing streak — a six-game losing streak in road games — thanks to six scoreless innings from Jerad Eickhoff and homers from Ryan Howard and Odubel Herrera. Eickhoff was kinda shaky, walking four dudes, but the Jays weren’t capitalizing on anything.

Twins 9, Angels 4Trevor Plouffe hit a three-run homer, Byron Buxton and Robbie Grossman went deep as well, and the Twins enjoyed their biggest offensive output in what has otherwise been an offensive season. I hope they got permission from the local columnists to enjoy this one, but if not, I’m sure they flagellated themselves a tad softer than usual. They earned that.

Athletics 14, Rangers 5Khris Davis homered and drove in five runs. He has 15 bombs on the year. He’s on pace for 39 with 108 RBI despite his .283 OBP. Overall, he’s having merely an average season — maybe a tad above average — but which would’ve turned him into a superstar if he had done it in 1986. Born too late, Khris.

Marlins 13, Padres 4: Ichiro had three of the Marlins’ 19 hits. That puts him one hit away from Pete Rose’s total of 4,256 if you combine his 2,977 hits in the majors and his 1,278 NPB hits. Which I think we should do because (a) NPB is a pretty darn good league; (b) Ichiro was, obviously, not some creation of weak competition; and (c) Pete Rose is a jackass and it’d be way cooler to think of Ichiro as The Hit King as opposed to Rose.

Giants 11, Brewers 5: Lots of crooked numbers and double digits last night, this one no exception. Brandon Crawford drove in three and the San Francisco offense bailed out Matt Cain who couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning.

Maybe tonight teams will decide that pitching is important.

Yasiel Puig is still a free agent

Yasiel Puig
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Around this time last year, the ink was drying on Manny Machado‘s 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres and Bryce Harper was about to put the finishing touches on his 13-year, $330 million deal with the Phillies. We had gotten used to premier free agents hanging out in limbo until late February and even into March. This past offseason, however, was a return to normal. The top three free agents — Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg — all signed in December. Once the big names are off the board, the lesser free agents subsequently tend to find homes. There were a handful of noteworthy signings in January, but pretty much everyone was off the board when February began.

There are a handful of free agents remaining as I write this, with one name really sticking out: Yasiel Puig. Last season, between the Reds and Indians, Puig hit .267/.327/.458 with 24 home runs, 84 RBI, 76 runs scored, and 19 stolen bases in 611 plate appearances. He was one of only seven players in the league last year to hit at least 24 home runs and swipe at least 19 bases. While Puig has had some problems over the years, he still possesses a rare blend of power and speed that would seem useful.

The Marlins, White Sox, and Rockies have been linked to Puig this offseason. His market has been otherwise quiet since he became a free agent. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden suggests Puig will have to settle for a “pillow contract” — a one-year deal with which Puig reestablishes his market value, aiming to pursue a multi-year deal the following offseason. Along with the aforementioned three teams, Bowden suggests the Mariners, Indians, Pirates, Giants, Red Sox, and Cardinals as other teams that could potentially fit with Puig, which is not to be confused with teams having expressed interest in his services.