And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and recaps

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Royals 2, Astros 1:
The legend goes that Zack Greinke fell in love with an Earth woman.
Deciding that he wanted to be with her, he chose to undergo the
irreversible process of immersing himself in the red Kyptonian
sunlight, stripping him of his super powers. After three or four weeks
of being mortal, however, he realized that he needed to trek back to
the Fortress of Solitude to see if he couldn’t get his powers back. It
all worked out in the end, as Greinke returned to Planet Houston and
defeated his enemies in impressive style (8 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 5K). Only
hitch: Brian Bannister still knew his secret identity when it was all
over, so they had to engage in a very awkward kiss to set everything
back the way it was.

Braves 4, Yankees 0:
The book on the Yankees is that they are nearly powerless when facing
rookie or, at the very least, unfamiliar starters. I don’t know if
that’s actually true, but it certainly seems it, and getting shutout by
rookie Tommy Hanson and a gaggle of relievers doesn’t help the
perception any. Sad thing is that Wang actually pitched better than
Hanson in some respects, so at least that’s something for the Yankees
to build on. In other news, Braves’ catcher Brian McCann continues to
be astounding (3-4, 2B, HR 2 RBI) and has no business trailing Yadier
Molina in the All-Star voting right now.

Phillies 10, Rays 1:
Unlike the Yankees, the Phillies seem to have no such trouble against
rookie pitchers, and they roughed David Price the hell up (4.1 IP, 7 H,
10 R). Only five of those runs were earned due to three Rays’ errors,
but it’s not like Price wasn’t smacked around, because he clearly was.

Dodgers 5, White Sox 4:
Early Wynn was knocked out of the box, well, early, giving up four runs
on eight hits in two and two thirds. Roger Craig wasn’t any great
shakes himself (7 IP, 10 H, 4 R) but between that and a homer and an
RBI single from Hodges, it was enough. Next it’ll be the youngster
Koufax facing off against Bob Shaw two nights from now back in Chicago.
If he can pull it off, the Dodgers will have won their first title
since moving to Los Angeles. Turning to business news, General Motors
announced today that it foresees profits for the next century at the
very least, and anticipates that Flint, Michigan will soon rival New
York, London and Paris in wealth, prosperity and opulence.

Red Sox 11, Nationals 3:
Over 41,000 in attendance in Nationals Park on a Tuesday night? Yep,
Boston must be in town. Jason Bay (4-6, HR 3 RBI) made the interlopers
happy, and Brad Penny continued to show would be trade partners that
he’s basically a five inning pitcher, even if he’s becoming an
increasingly effective one. Give up value at your own risk.

Tigers 5, Cubs 4:
Magglio Ordonez got the start after riding the pine for four games,
goes 0-2 and is lifted for a pinch runner, and then later the guy who
has been starting in his place hits a two-run, come-from-behind walkoff
homer. I suspect that it’s back to the pine for Magglio.

Indians 5, Pirates 4: There was an article yesterday about how one could conceivably get pumped up
for what looks to be such a blah series between two blah teams. I don’t
know if I buy a lot of them, but I can definitely buy the
Cleveland-Pittsburgh rivalry thing. It’s slanted way east in football,
but baseball could maybe spice it up a bit, no? After all, Cleveland is
way closer to Pittsburgh than it is to its putative interleague rival,
the Reds, and Cleveland and Pittsburgh have more in common with one
another from a cultural and demographic standpoint than Cleveland and
Cincinnati do.

Marlins 7, Orioles 6:
Two counts of bullpen malpractice. Count I: against Danys Baez for
allowing five runs on four hits in the seventh. Count II: against a
quartet of Fish relievers that immediately turned around and blew that
lead in the eighth and ninth. Jorge Cantu singled in the winning run in
the twelfth, but that can be blamed on the pen too, as Brian Bass
walked Emilio Bonafacio for some strange reason, then uncorked a wild
pitch to allow him to get to second before Cantu did his thing. Pfun
Pfact: by the year 2017, use of the term “uncorked” in the wild pitch
context will exceed its use in the wine context for the first time in
recorded history. If you don’t believe me, you can look it up.

Cardinals 3, Mets 0:
Joel Pinero shuts the Mets down with a two hit shutout. He had two hits
on his own too, which really rubbed the Mets noses in it, no? And the
Mets didn’t even make him work a little it: he threw 100 pitches even
and this one was over in two hours and thirteen minutes.

Twins 7, Brewers 3:
It was a victory just getting this game played at home given the damage
last week’s flooding caused at Miller Park, so let’s call this a split
for the Brewers. Joe Mauer goes 0-5, knocking him down below .400 for
the first time this season. Apropos of nothing, I’ll note that
knuckleballer R.A. Dickey is sporting a 2.43 ERA on the season.

Blue Jays 7, Reds 5: Joey Votto returns. He only goes 1-4, but as Bob wrote earlier this morning,
he could have taken a golden sombrero and it wouldn’t have made a
difference, because the mere fact that he’s playing ball after what
he’s gone through is a triumph.

Padres 9, Mariners 7:
With the exception of one inning, Chad Gaudin pitched excellently (7
IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 11K) then had to bite his nails as reliever Greg Burke
did his best to throw it all away.

Diamondbacks 8, Rangers 2:
The season may already be lost for Arizona, but Max Scherzer (6 IP, 7
H, 2 ER) and Justin Upton (2-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) at least provide a
bright future.

Angels 4, Rockies 3:
This win, combined with the Rangers loss, puts the Angels into a first
place tie. There was a point in April where that seemed impossible, but
it seems that anything is possible in the AL West.

Giants 4, A’s 1: Lincecawesome! (CG, 7 H, 1 ER, 12K). OK, that was probably uncalled for.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.