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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 9, White Sox 4: The Indians finally trailed in a game — down 4-3 in the first inning, for their first time behind in 68 frames — but they continued their winning ways, taking their 13th game in a row.  Jose Ramirez, who just won Player of the Week honors, started on a second straight week of dominance by hitting two more homers. Here Cleveland’s starter, Danny Salazar, couldn’t make it out of the first inning, allowing those four runs, but seven Indians relievers combined for eight and a third scoreless innings. If the Indians take their 14th straight game today, they’ll tie the franchise record winning streak.

Red Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: This one went 19 innings and ended after 1AM. Ending it: a Mookie Betts double to lead off the inning followed by a walkoff bloop single from Hanley Ramirez. It would’ve ended hours earlier in the Blue Jays favor if not for Ramirez and Mitch Moreland each grounding out to plate a run in the bottom of the ninth to tie it up at two. That wasted a fantastic performance from Marco Estrada, who tossed seven shutout innings. A long game is hard on everyone, but I guess the bright side of this is that, given that they couldn’t do anything against Estrada, it’s probably evidence that the Red Sox have stopped cheating.

Pirates 4, Cubs 3: Down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Max Moroff and David Freese hit RBI singles to bring the Pirates back from behind. Jordan Luplow homered. The Pirates starter, Steven Brault, didn’t get the decision, but he was the first lefty to start for Pittsburgh all year, which is weird.

Tigers 13, Royals 2: Big day for Tigers first baseman John Hicks, who homered twice and drove in four.  JaCoby Jones homered twice as well, and the Tigers won easily despite losing starter Anibal Sanchez after only five pitches into the game when he was hit on the leg with a come backer.

Reds 9, Brewers 3: It was close until the bottom of the seventh when the Reds plated five runs. Three of those came on a Scooter Gennett homer. Robert Stephenson allowed one run over six for the win. Milwaukee has dropped two straight to the lowly Reds on days when the Cubs have lost, blowing a chance to make up ground.

Phillies 9, Mets 1: Ben Lively was a one man gang, allowing one run over seven innings and drove in four runs via a two-run homer and a two-run single. He and the Phillies rocked Jacob deGrom, who allowed nine runs — six earned — on ten hits in three and a third, including that homer to Lively. Lively homered in his last start too, and is now 6-for-21 (.286) with two home runs and eight RBI on the year.

Nationals 2, Marlins 1: Stephen Strasburg tosses six shutout innings, running his total to 26 consecutive scoreless innings, and struck out eight. He might’ve gone longer but suffered from some cramps that caused him to leave early. Daniel Murphy‘s eighth inning homer was the difference offensively. He almost had another one earlier but Giancarlo Stanton robbed it from him by reaching over the wall to snag it:

Rays 2, Twins 1: Jake Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the seventh and ended up with six and two-thirds shutout innings to get the win. Probably good that it was broken up, of course, as he needed 90 pitches to get that far and thus never would’ve been able to go the distance. Lucas Duda supplied all of the Rays offense, with an RBI double and a solo homer.

Rockies 9, Giants 6Trevor Story homered and Nolan Arenado hit an RBI double as the Rockies rode a four-run sixth inning to their eighth straight win over the Giants at Coors Field. Colorado used nine pitchers. Pablo Sandoval went 0-for-4. He walked, but he’s now hitless in 37 straight at-bats. Woof.

Orioles 7, Yankees 6: Manny Machado hit a walkoff two-run homer with two outs to give the O’s the win. This came after Baltimore was down five. It also came when Dellin Betances threw a bunch of breaking balls instead of fastballs. Betances said after the game that he should’ve thrown more fastballs. Ya think?

Angels 8, Athletics 7:  Ben Revere lined a go-ahead single in the top of the 10th inning and the Angels took over the second Wild Card spot with this win combined with the Twins loss. Mike Trout was thrown out at the plate twice: once in the third inning when he tried to score from third on a grounder, then again in the fifth when he tried to get home from second on a single. You win when that happens and you’re living a charmed life.

Astros 3, Mariners 1: Welcome to the Astros, Justin Verlander. Houston’s newest pitcher tossed six innings, allowing one run and striking out seven. His only blemish: a solo homer to Kyle Seager in the fourth. His run support came via an Alex Bregman sac fly and a homer from former Tigers teammate Cameron Maybin.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 1: Arizona wins its 12th straight and the Dodgers drop their fifth straight and tenth in their last 11. Here Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu each allowed a run but didn’t figure in the decision. In the tenth Pedro Baez walked the first two batters he faced and then both of them scored on a fielder’s choice + error combo when Justin Turner threw home and Yasmani Grandal couldn’t handle it. Things suck hard for the Dodgers right now, but every good team goes through a bad stretch. The key is, you know, getting out of it.

Cardinals 8, Padres 4: Jose Martinez hit two home runs and Harrison Bader homered and drove in three. Travis Wood didn’t pitch all that well for San Diego, but he did hit a two-run homer.

Rangers vs. Braves — POSTPONED:

You shatter me your grip on me a hold on me
So dull it kills
You stifle me
Infectious sense of
Hopelessness and prayers for rain
I suffocate
I breathe in dirt
And nowhere shines but desolate
And drab the hours all spent on killing time
Again all waiting for the rain

Ahoy, San Diego: 2019 Winter Meetings Preview

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Over the weekend the baseball world will descended on San Diego, California for the 2019 Winter Meetings. Let’s talk about what’ll go down there in the next week.

 

Free Agents

So far this has been a much brisker offseason than the past two, during which it seemed like no one signed between November and February. This year, however, we have already seen top-30 free agents Zack Wheeler, Yasmani Grandal, Cole Hamels, José Abreu, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Moustakas, and Michael Pineda sign, and a handful of others have inked pacts as well.

Still, there’s a lot of work to be done. Top free agent Gerrit Cole has had some heat around him lately, with the Yankees reportedly hot on his trail, and New York has at least had a conversation with San Diego native and resident Stephen Strasburg as well. Beyond them, Anthony Rendon, Madison Bumgarner, Nicholas Castellanos, and Josh Donaldson are all looking for new employers as well.

At the end of October Rotoworld’s Matthew Pouliot ran down the top 111 free agents, from highest-ranked to lowest, to help you get a jump on who is available.

 

Trades

Free agent signings notwithstanding, we are in an age in which a lot of teams are in cost-savings mode. For that reason some big, MVP-caliber names are reportedly on the trading block, including Mookie Betts of the Red Sox, Francisco Lindor of the Indians and, perhaps, Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Nolan Arenado of the Rockies. Beyond them, there has been chatter about the Dodgers dealing Joc Pederson, the Tigers dealing Matthew Boyd and the Pirates and Rockies shopping anyone worth a bag of balls.

Whether any of those big names switch teams, it’s already been a pretty active trading season so far, and it would not be at all surprising of the transaction wire is humming in the next week. We, of course, will have near-instant breakdowns of every deal that goes down, so make sure you keep a window open with this site on it and hit refresh early and often.

 

Managers on Parade

 

Trade deals and free agent negotiations take place behind closed doors, so we can only talk about those once they happen. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press.

We have a boatload of new managers this year, all of whom have had their happy little press conferences back in their home cities so far. The press availabilities at the Winter Meetings are a bit more in depth and, quite often, feature managers giving more detailed answers to their philosophies and their plans as they prepare for the 2020 season.

New at the little tables and under the bright lights this year: Jayce Tingler with the Padres, Mike Matheny with the Royals, Gabe Kapler with the Giants, David Ross with the Cubs, Derek Shelton with the Pirates, Joe Maddon with the Angels, Carlos Beltrán with the Mets, and Joe Girardi with the Phillies.

And, yes, the tradition like no other continues this year, as I will be ranking all 30 of the current managers on the basis of handsomeness. Here’s last year’s rankings. The new rankings will go up first thing Monday morning. It’s the silliest thing I do all year and, for better or for worse, it’s the thing I’m best known for. What a life I have.

 

Hall of Fame Vote

The Modern Baseball Era Committee — formerly known as the Veterans Committee — will meet on Sunday to vote in, or not vote in, new inductees for the Hall of Fame. For the past two weeks I’ve been profiling the candidates. Here are those profiles:

Committee members get four votes each. If I had four I’d give them to Whitaker, Evans, Simmons, and Miller, but you never know what the real voters will do. We’ll have the results up on Sunday evening once the vote is made public.

 

Major League Baseball vs. Minor League Baseball

One thing a lot of people don’t know about the Winter Meetings is that it’s put on, primarily, by Minor League Baseball as an organization and the vast majority of the people on the ground at the Winter Meetings either run or work for or are trying to sell stuff to minor league teams. Almost every team’s owner comes and brings along some staffers. Coaches, trainers, scouts, and other team employees who spend most of their year out in the bushes as opposed to back at the big club’s home base attend meetings and hobnob with one another.

Normally that’s all pretty routine. This year, however, it probably won’t be thanks to Rob Manfred’s plan to contract 42 minor league clubs and rearrange a great many more of them across levels and leagues.

As we noted earlier today, that scheme has set off a political firestorm and is no doubt the top agenda item and point of concern for every single minor league official and employee at the Winter Meetings. There are, reportedly, already meetings going on in San Diego about all of this. Expect some news about it at any point in the next week. At this point I’d expect anything from Manfred totally scrapping the plan, to him doubling down on it, to reports of general acrimony and possible legal action and everything in between.

 

The Boring Business of Baseball 

Outside of the transactions, the Hall of Fame stuff, the managers and the minor league contraction intrigue, we’ll likely have more mundane Winter Meetings business. Most people at the Winter Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings. There is no single rule change that everyone is talking about at the moment, but something will likely pop up. Sometimes we’re completely surprised with that kind of stuff.

 

The Rule 5 Draft

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am Pacific time on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected, but by next summer you may very well know some of them who are either picked or who were made available this week. Max Muncy could’ve been had by anyone a couple of years ago, went un-picked and all he’s done is rake like crazy for the team with the most wins in the National League. Given that even the combined minds of 29 front offices didn’t think he was worth a roster spot last year, you’ll be forgiven for not having any idea about the guys in this year’s Rule 5. But, if you want to at least attempt to be prepared for it, here’s a good place to start.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at the Hyatt Manchester in San Diego — and maybe a few other places around town — bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event.