And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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A very grand-slammy day around the Majors . . .

Nationals 14, Brewers 6: Josh Willingham with two grand slams
and eight RBI. I think that’s more production than his trade
counterpart Emilio Bonifacio has had all season.

Mets 7, Rockies 3: An eighth inning pinch hit grand slam by Fernando Tatis puts a happy ending on what was an otherwise horrible day in Metsville.
After the game, Omar Minaya raged at a press conference about how he
can no longer sit back and allow reporter infiltration, reporter
indoctrination, reporter subversion and the international reporter
conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

Cubs 5, Astros 1: Tie game, bases loaded in the bottom of the
ninth! Lou Piniella calls for the suicide squeeze! Mike Fontenot know
what to do: Contact, baby! Do anything, put it anywhere, but JUST DON’T
MISS THE BALL! Oops, he missed the ball and the runner was tagged out.
On to extra innings, where, thankfully for Fontenot’s sake, the Cubbies
broke out in the 13th inning, via — you guessed it — a game-winning
grand slam, this one off the bat of Alfonso Soriano.

Indians 9, Angels 8: A rare bifurcated grand slam won this one,
with Victor Martinez hitting a three run home run followed immediately
by Jhonny Peralta hitting a solo-shot in the ninth inning. Shut up, it
does too count. I’m trying to keep a theme going here.

Yankees 11, Rays 4: It was A-Rod’s birthday yesterday, and if he wanted to, he and his lady friend Kate Hudson could have joined the party and gotten a free grand slam.
Since it’s Rodriguez, though, they probably just tried to go to Chi
Chi’s to get free nachos and a Polaroid picture wearing that birthday
sombrero they give out. Then they probably were crestfallen when they
found out that (a) Chi Chi’s went out of business five years ago; and
(b) that there aren’t any Polaroids around anymore either. So instead
they just went out to some fabulous restaurant and took turns telling
one another how rich and beautiful they are. Wait, where was I going
with this?

Reds 6, Padres 4: Given how totally each of these teams have
fallen apart recently, this was more like rummage sale than a ballgame.
Scouts sat behind home plate like Luke and Uncle Owen pickin’ out
droids. Based on reports, someone’s got their eyes set on this Red one, but they should be warned: he probably has a bad motivator.

Red Sox 8, A’s 3: Every Red Sox batter got a hit which, if
you’re a connoisseur of box scores, is kind of satisfying to see on an
aesthetic level. 10Ks for Beckett.

Royals 5, Orioles 3: Billy Butler went 5 for 5 and Bruce Chen
wasn’t an unmitigated disaster for once. Interesting — and deceiving
— to see that the Royals are only three games worse than the Orioles
are this year. I bet Dayton Moore walks around the office complaining
about how unfair it is for those in the know to talk about Baltimore’s
future and promise while all they do is criticize the Royals.

Twins 4, White Sox 3: Errors were the difference here, as Jayson Nix and Paul Konerko each committed an error in the second which led to Twins runs.

Rangers 5, Tigers 2: Yet another solid start from Tommy Hunter
(7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). I don’t know anything about him and I haven’t seen
him pitch yet. Royce — anyone — is he any good, or is this a fluke?

Cardinals 6, Dodgers 1: Chris Carpenter finishes July 4-0 by
beating L.A. in a manner that compels me to use the term “scattered” (7
IP, 9 H, 1 ER). Not to be confused with scattered, smothered, and covered
(sorry, that breakfast reference in the Yankees recap has me hungry).
Anyway, in his first four games with St. Louis, Matt Holliday is
8-for-14 with four RBIs. In his last seven games, Mark DeRosa has five
homers. I’d say at this point that the midseason deals are paying off
for St. Louis.

Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 2: Jamie Moyer, who I am contractually
obligated to refer to as “crafty” (though “wily” will also be
accepted), baffled the Dbacks with his stunning array of dusty junk,
allowing bubkis over six innings. The Phillies now have a seven game
lead in the East.

Blue Jays 11, Mariners 4: All hits are not created equal.
Toronto only has three more of them than the Ms, but they scored seven
more runs, knocking King Felix around in what amounts to his worst
start in a couple of years, and preventing him from getting what would
have been his 12th win.

Giants 4, Pirates 2: Lincecumazing! OK, I’ll cut that out now.
But he really was, tossing a complete game, giving up no earned runs,
and striking out 15 Pirates. His game score of 87 is the ninth best of
any starter’s performance this season. Though it’s worth noting that I
don’t believe in game scores. I just believe in me. Yoko and me. And
that’s reality.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.