And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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White Sox 9, Red Sox 5: Who needs Billy Wagner when you have
Nick Green? The shortstop pitches two shutout innings. That’s a huge
increase in the number of innings he’s thrown over last year, but don’t
worry: Since he’s over 25, the Verducci Effect probably doesn’t come into play.  By the way, I just love that picture. In it he’s actually throwing over to first, but it kind of looks like those old photos of deadball-era pitchers just hurling it up there without really putting their whole body into it.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Vicente Padilla. Who knew? Nothing special
of course — two runs on six hits over five — but that’s a few fewer
hits and runs than you might have expected him to give up. This series
— and what came before and after it — represents everything fantastic
about baseball. The Rockies took three of four from the Giants and won
one in dramatic fashion against L.A. 48 hours ago. Then bam, bam,
they’re four games out and have to go to San Francisco and face Tim
Lincecum, a resurgent Barry Zito and Matt Cain. They could end the week
way worse off than they started it, and no one could have expected it
as late as Wednesday afternoon. It’s a relentless season that gives no
quarter. You can’t pump yourself up once a week or ride a hot hand.
Twenty-five guys have to go out there every single day and do it. It
actually makes exercises like these daily recaps rather silly, as the
true story of the season can only truly be seen from a distance. The
true mettle of a team revealed in its skills at long term survival.

Diamondbacks 11, Giants 0: Then again, maybe the Rockies don’t have much to worry about this weekend.

Pirates 3, Phillies 2: So your first closer blows one, and your
second closer blows one again the next night. Now what do you do? Well,
you can leave your starter out there the whole game, which is what
Charlie Manuel did with J.A. Happ last night. That didn’t work either
as Happ gives up two in the eighth, so now it looks like the Phils are
on to Plan D. Say, I wonder what would it take to pry Nick Green away
from Boston . . .

Braves 9, Padres 1: Atlanta salvages one behind seven shutout
innings by Javier Vazquez, who had an RBI to boot. Nine runs and
seventeen hits for the Braves, but the only extra-base hit was Adam
LaRoche’s homer in the sixth. Otherwise, it was single-fest.

Nationals 5, Cubs 4: Milton Bradley was 0 for 5, and is in a big
slump. I have no idea if Cubs fans actually hate him like he thinks
they do, but if they don’t already, he’s giving them ample reason. The
Cubs are now nine behind St. Louis. “Look, let’s just win some baseball
games. Forget the Cardinals and every other team,” said Lou Piniella
after the game. As long as that includes the Cubs, I think everyone is
on board.

Astros 4, Cardinals 3: Jeff Keppinger hit what would prove to be
the winning homer with two out in the ninth, averting a sweep by the
Cards. Nice rally, however small, the day after Oswalt said the team
was “dead.” Then again, maybe Oswalt didn’t really mean the team was
dead. I always have taken comments like that to be the way players
communicate their general unhappiness with the manager to the press and
team brass.

Indians 5, Royals 4: Andy Marte homered, tripled and drove in a
couple. He’s still no great shakes on the year, but he’s on a warmish
streak of late. If he keeps it up, he may actually be given one final
chance to be an all-season everyday starter in 2010. Because he’s a
former Braves prospect — and because I fear that the concept of being
a AAAA player extends to other walks of life beyond baseball and I thus
want to see it debunked out of fear and anxiety — I’m kind of rooting
for him to make it.



Rangers 7, Yankees 2: The team whose starter struck out 12 dudes
in six innings lost, and the team whose starter walked seven in 3.2 IP
won. That makes sense.

Reds 8, Brewers 5: Nothing I can say can beat the storylines as told by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. First, Tom Haudricourt’s game story
starts like this: “It was another discouraging day at Miller Park on
Thursday as the Brewers ended a discouraging series in what has become
a discouraging second half.” The headline to Michael Hunt’s column puts
it more succinctly: “Another dank day of despair for our ’09 Brewers.” I’m guessing they’ve all turned their attention to the Badgers and Pack by now.

Mets 10, Marlins 3: Day games in Miami in August make total
sense. The box score says that there over 12,000 paid to see this game,
but based on the crowd shots I saw, there couldn’t have been half that.
Which raises a philosophical question: if the Mets get 17 hits and no
one was there to see it, did it really happen?

Athletics 2, Angels 0: Trevor Cahill threw two-hit shutout ball
over seven innings and Mike Wuertz and Andrew Bailey shut out the
Angels for the remaining two innings. This is bizarre: “The Angels’
uniformed personnel and front office staff assembled in center field
before batting practice for the 2009 team photo, but RHP Jered Weaver
missed because he was home with the flu. So PR guy Eric Kay stood in
wearing Weaver’s No. 36 jersey, and the pitcher’s head will be
superimposed when it is printed.” What happens if, say, Juan Rivera
screws up something really bad in a playoff game that costs the team
the season. Do they airbrush him out like Stalin did with purged
political enemies? Because the possibilities here seem limitless.


Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez killed in a boating accident

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 03: Jose Fernandez #16 of the Miami Marlins looks on during a game against the New York Mets at Marlins Park on August 3, 2015 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Horrible news: Miami Marlins ace starting pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed in a boat crash off of Miami Beach late last night.

No details have been released yet, apart from the fact that Fernandez was one of three people killed. The Marlins have issued a statement confirming Fernandez’s death, stating that the organization is devastated and that their thoughts and prayers were with Fernandez’s family. Today’s Marlins game against the Braves has been canceled.

Fernandez was only 24 years old. Though only in his fourth season in the majors, he was easily one of the best and most exciting pitchers in the game. In his four seasons he won 38 games and posted a fantastic ERA of 2.58 while striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. He was an electric presence on the mound and was poised to become one of baseball’s most highly-paid and entertaining superstars.

His baseball exploits seem trivial now, however. His loss at such a young age, tragic. Our thoughts today are with Fernandez’s family, the Marlins organization and those who knew and loved him.

The Nationals are NL East champs once again

PITTSBURGH, PA - SEPTEMBER 24:  Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals celebrates after clinching the National League East Division Championship after defeating the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-1 at PNC Park on September 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Another day, another division title in the bag. The Nationals coasted to a 6-1 finish over the Pirates on Saturday evening; coupled with a Mets’ loss later that night, the NL East title was theirs for the third time since 2012.

The Nationals put up a three-spot in the first and fourth innings, scoring five of six runs on productive outs while Washington starter Joe Ross tossed 2  innings of one-run ball in his second start off the disabled list. Prior to the game, manager Dusty Baker seemed reluctant to delegate a set number of pitches to the right-hander, opting instead to base Ross’s workload on his performance.

Washington’s bullpen carried the team the rest of the way, combining for 6 ⅓ scoreless frames to preserve their five-run lead. When Anthony Rendon snared a liner from Andrew McCutchen to end the game, all eyes turned to the clubhouse TVs:

Murphy had sufficient cause for worry: After trailing 10-0 through four innings, the Mets returned with an eight-run drive that culminated with Jay Bruce‘s solo shot in the ninth inning. Had Bruce hit the home run after Philadelphia closer Michael Mariot issued a pair of walks, and not before, the Mets would have edged out the Phillies, 11-10. Instead, their late-game rally ended on a fastball down the middle, and the Phillies’ 70th victory confirmed the Nats’ place atop the NL East.

While Max Scherzer donned his two-toned goggles and Bryce Harper braved the champagne showers in U.S. Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s swim cap, Baker was already thinking about Sunday’s start. Against the Pirates’ Tyler Glasnow, Baker announced his plans to start 24-year-old A.J. Cole, whose seven starts have yielded a 4.68 ERA and 0.2 fWAR in 32 ⅔ innings this year.

Cole hasn’t displayed the sharpest stuff in his sophomore season, touting a high 3.03 BB/9 and 1.93 HR/9, but with the division locked down and the Cubs in sole possession of home field advantage through the NLCS, the Nationals have bigger concerns as the playoffs draw near.