And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and recaps

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Pirates 3, Braves 2:
Right after I graduated law school I traded in my 1990 Chevy Cavalier
for a new Honda. The Cavy still looked good — clean, no rust, no dings
— but it ran like hacking death. It would just stall the hell out for
no reason, but not before convulsing in a violent, noisy rattle. It was
so unpredictable, though. It would run fine for days and then — whammo
— it just died. If you let it sit for ten minutes it would start right
back up and run fine again. Totally bizarre. Anyway, as I turned over
the keys to the thing at the Honda dealer, I was worried that someone
from the used car department would start the thing up and and have it
seize on them before I could sign on the dotted line for my new car,
but no one bothered to try. I can’t tell you how happy I was that, if
the Cavy did eventually die on them, I would be nowhere near
the place when it did. The Braves were unable to avoid this kind of
embarrassment when their trade-in — Charlie Morton — had to leave the
game in the second inning with a bum hamstring. Caveat emptor, Pirate dudes.

Royals 9, Indians 0:
Just when Carlo Pavano was starting to get the kudos for a career
revival, the Royals of all teams lay an eleven-hit, nine-run smackdown
on him. Alberto Callaspo was the offensive hero for Kansas City, going
4 for 4, including a grand slam. Worth noting that Kyle Farnsworth — a
man who made the first couple weeks of the season so awful for Royals
fans — hasn’t allowed a run over seventeen appearances since April
19th, and he’s only walked two dudes in that same span. Greinke will
fill the bill this season, but the Royals have had way worse players
than Farnsworth represent them at the All-Star game in recent years.

Mariners 4, Orioles 1: Two home runs from Jose Lopez and the eighth straight game in which the Mariners have allowed three runs or fewer = win.

Astros 2, Cubs 1: Nice pitchers duel between Wandy Rodriguez and Carlos Zambrano, even if neither of them figured into the decision.

Tigers 2, White Sox 1:
Another spiffy pitchers duel, this one Verlander vs. Danks, with the
former (CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 9K) dueling just a bit more skillfully than the
latter. From the game story, it’s noted that the Tigers selected NCAA
killer Andy Oliver in the draft. Given his mastery of Ohio courts, he
should consider making his home in Toledo even after he makes the big
club despite the long commute to Tiger Stadium. Dude could be
bulletproof here.

Cardinals 13, Marlins 4: I’m less
interested in the fact that Marlins’ pitchers gave up 13 runs than I am
that they didn’t strike out a single Cardinal in the game.

Phillies 5, Mets 4: Yesterday I noted
that the Phillies’ bullpen is doubling as the cast of a reality show.
Given that six members of that pen were pressed into actual pitching
duty to get last night’s win, there probably wasn’t a lot of
opportunity for confession cams and the kind of manufactured drama you
usually see in these shows. The producers must have been furious.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 5:
Chien-Ming Wang still can’t find it so Phil Hughes had to come in. If
I’m Joe Girardi, I just switch places with these two next Tuesday and
see what happens. And while I didn’t watch most of this game, I did
hear the bit where Sutcliffe was talking about some deal Terry Francona
has with J.D. Drew where Francona pays Drew a couple hundred bucks each
time he hits a ball off the Monster. At least I think that’s how it
went. If so, is that even allowed?

Rays 8, Angels 5: John
Lackey gets shelled. Jeff Niemann was no great shakes himself, but his
bullpen bailed him out with one-hit, shutout relief over the final five
and a third innings.

Rockies 4, Brewers 2: Brad Hawpe (2-4, 2B, HR 2 RBI) did the damage, as he has all year.

Reds 4, Nationals 2:
Worst-timed rainstorm ever. The Reds get to the bottom of the ninth
with a 2-0 lead, only then to have to sit for a two hour and ten minute
rain delay, after which the Nats scored two sending it to extras.
According to the game story there were only about 100 fans left after
the delay. I’m shocked that there were that many.

Padres 3, Dodgers 1:
Kevin Correia (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) pitched well on three days’ rest.
Clayton Kershaw threw 83 pitches in less than three innings, which made
it a long night for the bullpen.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 4
: Feels like San Francisco has
been on the road forever, but at least they’re ending it well. Barry
Zito struggled, but his offense (and the Dbacks’ poor defense) picked
him up.

Twins 6, Athletics 3: Bullpen failure. Someone
should write a book someday compiling all of the subtly sarcastic or
passive-aggressive things starting pitchers say when betrayed by their
pen. This, from starter Dallas Braden, who was sick before the game, is
one of the better ones: “I think I probably could have put the upset
stomach and tired arm aside for one more inning, so I’ll wear this one
for sure.” Translation: dudes, I’m sick, and I just gutted out seven
strong innings. You gotta do better than that. Man.”

Blue Jays vs. Rangers:
Postponed: Mt. Waialeale in Kauai, Hawaii, has up to 350 rainy days
every year. This why they do not play baseball on Mt. Waialeale.

It’s May 4 and Daniel Murphy is still out-hitting Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals' Daniel Murphy hits an RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, April 30, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy flirted with the cycle in Wednesday afternoon’s 13-2 drubbing of the Royals, as he went 4-for-5 with a pair of singles, a two-run double, and a solo home run. That brings his triple-slash line on the season up to .398/.449/.663. Comparatively, teammate Bryce Harper — the defending NL MVP and arguably the best player in baseball — is currently hitting .266/.372/.649.

Murphy has always been an above-average hitter, but this level of hitting is something else. Of course, he flashed it in the post-season last year when he homered in six consecutive games, helping the Mets advance past the Dodgers in the NLDS and sweep the Cubs in the NLCS.

The Nats signed Murphy to a three-year, $37.5 million contract in January. If Neil Walker, acquired from the Pirates to replace Murphy, wasn’t hitting so well, the Mets would probably be jealous. Walker is hitting .296/.330/.582 with nine home runs and 19 RBI.

Video: Jon Lester tosses his glove to get the out

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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It’s always fun when this happens. Cubs starter Jon Lester snagged a grounder hit back up the middle by Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli in the bottom of the second inning. The only problem was that the ball got stuck in the webbing of his glove. Rather than fight to pry the ball out, Lester just lobbed his glove over to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to get the first out of the inning.

Lester has had issues throwing baseballs to first base, so maybe it was a good thing the ball got stuck in his glove.

Lester did this last year, too, by the way.

Alex Rodriguez lands on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez follows through on a single to right off a pitch from Texas Rangers' Shawn Tolleson in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. The Yankees lost 3-2. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez strained his right hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles. The club announced it has placed him on the 15-day disabled list and recalled pitcher James Pazos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rodriguez lands on DL hitting .194/.275/.444 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 80 plate appearances.

Dustin Ackley replaced Rodriguez in Tuesday’s game, but the Yankees will likely cycle a handful of players in and out of the DH spot while Rodriguez heals.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday evening’s action

Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn
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We were treated to a handful of games this afternoon but we still have eight night games left. Let’s talk about the Phillies.

I wrote this preview of the Phillies just before the season started, predicting them to win only 65 games, which would mark only a marginal improvement over their 63-win season last year. In my defense, I wasn’t alone, as almost every expert as well as the projections had them finishing under 70 wins. And yet, here they are 27 games into the season with 16 wins. That’s on pace for a 96-win season. What the heck.

Aaron Nola pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday, marking the Phillies’ sixth shutout of the year, the best mark in the majors. Even as the Phillies prepared to draft him, Nola was described as “major league ready” but no one expected him to be quite this dominant. In his first 19 major league starts, Nola has a 3.37 ERA with a 112/26 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings. This year, not only has Nola been extremely stingy with the walks, but he’s been missing bats at an elite level. He’s only 22 years old.

Nola is joined in the rotation by Vincent Velasquez, the pitcher who highlighted the return from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade. The right-hander made headlines in April with a 16-strikeout performance against the Padres and currently stands with a 1.44 ERA with a 39/10 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. Unlike Nola, Velasquez was billed as a future ace or a dominant eighth- or ninth-inning guy.

Then there’s Jerad Eickhoff, who came over in the Cole Hamels trade last year. Though he has a ho-hum 4.15 ERA, Eickhoff is occasionally dominant as evidenced by his 32/5 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings. He has a pretty curve. Look at it. Eickhoff probably won’t be an ace, but he wasn’t considered to be a future mainstay in the rotation when the Hamels trade went through. All he’s done so far is exceed expectations. Nola-Velasquez-Eickhoff makes for an outstanding start to a long-term starting rotation.

The offensive tools aren’t quite where the pitching is yet for the Phillies, as third baseman Maikel Franco has wavered between looking like Mike Schmidt and looking completely lost at the plate. He has only five hits (zero home runs) in his last 37 plate appearances. Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford isn’t there yet, nor is outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Cornelius Randolph. There’s certainly a lot of hope on the horizon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Phillies fan, but wearing rose-colored glasses isn’t a crime of which I’ve been often accused over the years. It has been one headache after another being a Phillies fan between 2012-15. The front office under former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was stubborn and out of touch. Now, under new president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak, the team has a goal and is seeing it through. No, the Phillies won’t win 96 games this year — they probably won’t even win 80 — but they’re certainly further along than a lot of us gave them credit for being.

The Phillies play game three of a four-game set in St. Louis tonight at 8:15 PM EDT. Lefty Adam Morgan will oppose the Cardinals’ Mike Leake.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 6:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Alex Wood) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly), 7:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT