And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Reds 7, Nationals 0: Johnny Gomes (Johnny Gomes?) hits three homers and Bronson “Flintstones kids, ten million strong and growing
Arroyo throws a two-hit shutout. Obviously his best game of the season,
so maybe he decided to use his one DUI last night. Hey man, he earned
it.

Tigers 2, Red Sox 0: Justin Verlander (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K)
helps the Tigers salvage one. He also hit Chris Woodward twice, but no
benches cleared and no punches were thrown because, hey, it’s just
Chris Woodward.

Rockies 10, Pirates 1: Yesterday I complained about Josh
Beckett’s possible Cy Young. No such worries about Jason Marquis,
though. Sure, he has the wins, but there are a lot of guys pitching
much better than him overall who are close enough in the oh-so-critical
win column and who pitch for contenders (e.g. Lincecum, Carpenter,
Cain, Wainwright). I don’t think that even baseball writers are dumb
enough to overlook all of them and give Jason Marquis an award. But
hey, he did pitch well yesterday (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).

Royals 5, Twins 4: Joe Mauer was 2-4 with a homer and four RBI,
but it wasn’t enough as (a) no one else on his team knocked anyone in;
and (b) Carl Pavano allowed 5. The Royals take the series 2-1, which is
their first win since the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty of 1819. At
least it seems like it.

Phillies 6, Cubs 1: And the sweep. Cliff Lee, he’s pretty good (8 IP, 6 H. 1 ER, 8K). Easily the best pickup for Philadelphia this year. In any sport.

Rangers 4, Indians 1: A day game, but they replayed it on STO
last night. AMC was showing “Major League” at the same time. I don’t
think I need to tell you which one I watched. Kind of wished I had
watched the seventh and eighth of this one, though, as Neftali Feliz
struck out five guys in those two innings of relief work. Gotta love
that Mark Teixeira trade!

Brewers 12, Padres 9: Prince Fielder and Mike Rivera each had
two dingers, and Ryan Braun launched one too. They needed it all,
though, as despite jumping out to a 9-0 lead, they never really put the
Padres away until the very end. According to the game story, Fielder
and Braun wouldn’t talk to the media after the game, choosing instead
to defy the requests of the Brewers’ P.R. department and hide in the
meal area that is off limits to reporters. What gives with those guys?
As the season goes on, they seem to get gotten pissier and pissier.

Yankees 11, Mariners 1: CC Sabathia (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER. 10K) and
Hideki Matsui (4-5, 2 HR, 5 RBI) beat the tar out of the Mariners. Ian
Snell: “That lineup is just stupid. They shouldn’t be allowed to have a
lineup like that, but that is why their payroll is what it is. That is
a lineup nobody in the National League has.”

Marlins 9, Astros 2: Every couple of weeks I come across a game
about which I find nothing interesting. Nine out of ten times it’s an
Astros game, though I have no idea why. In light of coming across yet
another one, I’m going to note that I am currently re-reading Leo
Durocher’s Nice Guys Finish Last (which is being re-released very soon).
I’ll further note that, on the first page of the book, Leo talks about
all of the various ways he, his teammates and his opponents cheated
throughout their careers. He sums it up by saying “If you get away with
it, fine. If you don’t, what have you lost? . . . Win any way you can
as long as you can get away with it.” I sit here this morning wondering
why, then, we’re all so shocked and sanctimonious about everything that
has transpired in the past few years.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.