And That Happened: Sunday's scores and recaps

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Reds 8, Indians 1:
It was Brandon Phillips’ birthday and he beat up his old team to
celebrate (3-5, 3 RBI). But he overplayed it: “It’s good to have a game
like I did today, especially on my birthday and against the guys you
used to play for. Today, I was like, ‘I’m going to show the Indians
what they missed out on.'” Please, Brandon. They gave you 462 major
league plate appearances and you gave them .206/.246/.310. They also
gave you parts of four seasons in Buffalo, and you gave them
269/.329/.411. It’s nice of you to show them what they missed out on,
but maybe if you had showed some of it, oh, 5, 6, 7 years ago, you’d be
the starting second baseman for the Indians today. But happy birthday
anyway.

Braves 2, Red Sox 1:
Look, you can spin it any way you want to, Boston fans, but you got
beat by a kid with a mullet yesterday. But he’s a good kid. Hanson’s
last three starts: 17.1 IP, 9 hits, 0 ER. And that ain’t against no
tomato cans, neither: that’s against the Red Sox, the Yankees, and the
Reds in that playpen they call a ballpark.

Yankees 4, Mets 2:
Mariano Rivera got his 500th save. More impressive: he drew a
bases-loaded walk, giving him his first career RBI in 15 seasons.
Francisco Rodriguez gave it up, which in some cosmic way illustrates
the vast gulf between those two pitchers in my mind. How do you walk
Mariano Rivera? Nerves is all I can think, and you can bet your ass
that if the situation was reversed, Rivera would never have walked
Rodriguez, because Rivera’s body temperature runs at a constant 57
degrees.

White Sox 6, Cubs 0:
Jon Danks shut out the Cubbies over seven innings, and the bullpen
handled the last two. One of the few reasons I’m sad that the
interleague season is over is that it will provide fewer opportunities
for Ozzie Guillen to talk smack to Cubs’ fans. Here he was over the weekend:
“White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was asked why attendance was so low at
the Sox-Dodgers series, and said: “Because our fans are not stupid like
Cubs fans. They know we’re (expletive).” Guillen said Cubs fans will go
watch any game at Wrigley Field because “Wrigley Field is just a bar.”

Phillies 5, Blue Jays 4:
You hate to throw this out there on a day he won, but to me it’s the
most interesting thing that came out of this game: Jamie Moyer, who
allowed three home runs, has now allowed 483 in his career, passing
Phil Niekro for third all-time. He’s a lock to pass Fergie Jenkins, who
is in second place at 484, but he’s almost certainly going to need to
go into next season to beat out Robin Roberts for that all time lead at
505. He’s under contract for 2010, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t
want to see him hold on and take the record.

Royals 3, Pirates 2:
Greinke wins his 10th and, thanks to a rain delay, gets a bit of a rest
too, coming out in the seventh after throwing only 80 pitches. The
Pirates’ highlight of the day didn’t come in Pittsburgh: “Ian Snell,
the former Pirates’ No. 2 starter who was demoted Thursday after
deciding he needed a change of scenery, struck out 13 in a row after
walking the leadoff batter Sunday for Triple-A Indianapolis against
Toledo. He finished with 17 Ks and two hits allowed in seven innings,
throwing 70 of 108 pitches for strikes. Indianapolis won 2-1 in 10
innings.” I think that (a) he probably needs to come back to
Pittsburgh; and (b) if I struck out 17 guys in a game and got a
no-decision I’d be pretty damn pissed.

Nationals 5, Orioles 3:
Adam Dunn hit a home run that reached the B&O warehouse on the
bounce, traveling an estimated 442 feet. The Nats got another run when
Josh Willingham scored on a single. He was dead to rights at home
plate, but Matt Wieters dropped the ball, missing the tag. Which leads
to a theological question: Can Matt Weiters allow himself to make an
error? If so, then it seems that he could cease to be omnipotent. But
if not — if he is somehow precluded from allowing himself error —
perhaps he is not omnipotent to begin with. Think about that one for a
minute and get back to me. Either way, though, the answer to this
question is less important than the act of asking it. You see, Matt
Weiters is sitting at .234/.289/.390, which means that I have to use up
all of these Wieters = God jokes quickly, because they’re rapidly
approaching their expiration date.

Tigers 4, Astros 3:
I made fun of Russ Ortiz quite a bit early in the season, but he just
finished with a 1.90 ERA for June. I even added the dude to my
Scoresheet team, though that probably tells you more about the quality
of my Scoresheet team than it does Russ Ortiz. He got a no-decision
here, but for that he can blame Edwin Jackson and the Astros’ bats.
Brandon Inge hit a two-run homer off Jose Valverde with two outs in the
ninth inning to win it.

Rays 5, Marlins 2:
David Price bounces back after a hellish outing against the Phillies,
this time holding the Marlins to one run on two hits in six and a
third. That makes five straight wins for the Rays, who after seventy
some-odd games of fooling around now look ready to make a serious run
in the second half.

Twins 6, Cardinals 2:
The extent to which the Cardinals have been a one man gang this year
was illustrated by the fact that their new edition — super ute Mark
DeRosa — hit cleanup in his first game with the team. Mark DeRosa has
been a lot of things in his career, but a cleanup hitter has never
really been one of them. In fact, before yesterday, he had only started
four games as a cleanup hitter in his entire career. Of course, three
of those came this year with the Indians, which tells you the dire
offensive straits they’ve been in as well.

Mariners 4, Dodgers 2:
L.A. has lost four of five, but they can get away with it with their
lead. More interesting “the Dodgers hadn’t decided whether they’ll
discipline reliever Ronald Belisario after the 26-year-old rookie was
arrested early Saturday morning on suspicion of DUI in Pasadena.” I
anxiously await the Bill Plaschke column in which he decries the
horrible example set by Belisario and declares that whatever punishment
the Dodgers mete out to him is insufficient. Because clearly Plaschke
thinks that drunk driving is worse than steroid use, doesn’t he?

Rockies 3, Athletics 1:
The A’s have dropped five in a row. As for the Rockies, Aaron Cook has
been somethin’ special recently, giving up a single run in four of his
last five starts.

Angels 12, Diamondbacks 8:
A straight steal of home by Gary Matthews, Jr. was pretty spiffy. Four
Arizona errors were not. The Angels finish interleague play 14-4,
including an 8-1 mark in NL parks.

Padres 2, Rangers 0:
Chad Gaudin allowed one hit over eight innings for the Padres. The box
score says it was 99 degrees at game time. Seems like it’s always hot
down there, no matter when you come. It’s the kind of heat that holds
you like a mama holds her son. Tight when he tries to walk, even
tighter if he runs.

Giants 7, Brewers 0:
Ryan Sadowski (who?) stymies the Brewers in his major league debut (6
IP, 4 H, 0 ER). He’s bumped Jonathan Sanchez to the pen. Sanchez must
have been mad: he plunked Prince Fielder and then struck out the side
in his one inning of work.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.