And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Huff sliding into home.jpgGiants 6, Pirates 0: Inside the park home run for Aubrey Huff. See it here. To say that Garrett Jones played that one off the wall poorly would be like saying that King George made some fiscal miscalculations when he increased the tax burden on the colonies to help pay for the Seven Years War. Still, nice moment for Huff, complete with the wholly unnecessary slide into home which on deck hitter Mark DeRosa signaled him to do because he correctly figured it would be hilarious.  Not as hilarious as the Pirates’ attempts to hit Jonathan Sanchez, who struck out 11 while allowing three hits in eight innings. One Pirate reached third base in the whole game. He must have been lost.

Cubs 7, Brewers 6: A pretty impressive comeback for the Cubbies, who trailed 6-3 with two down in the eighth. Then both Ryan Theriot and Kosuke Fukudome hit two-run singles.  It wasn’t all chips and gravy for the Cubs, though, as that earlier deficit was enabled by Alfonso Soriano’s continued difficulties in left field, where he bobbled a ball and let another bounce off the wall and on past him.  He was yanked from the game by Piniella in the fifth inning and left to a chorus of boos. Geovany Soto and Prince Fielder collided at home plate in the second inning. I betcha Soto wished he still had that extra weight on him when that happened. He shook it off and hit a homer later, however.

White Sox 11, Blue Jays 1: 10,610 paid to see the game, making  it the smallest crowd in Sky Dome/Rogers Centre history. They didn’t miss much. Carlos Quentin had a grand slam and six RBI. John Danks allowed only two hits in seven innings, and no one on the Jays’ staff had the stones to put one in A.J. Pierzynski’s ribs in an effort to help him feel what a HBP really feels like.  I hope Toronto enjoyed their nice first week, because it’s a thing of the past. 2010 is going to feel a lot more like last night felt.

Marlins 5, Reds 3: Jorge Cantu went 1-4 with a homer, making him the first player in major league
history to have at least one hit and one RBI in each of his team’s first
nine games. This had some media build up before the game last night, being described as a “milestone” or a “record” in various places. Deep thought: absolutely no one in the world beyond Mr. Cantu’s immediate family cares about this, and I’m guessing even they are mostly just smiling politely. There are records and then there are events that that are strange and mildly interesting. This one is the latter.

Rays 9, Orioles 1: That, my friends, is B.J. Upton: 2-5, 2 HR, 4 RBI. The Orioles are now 1-8. Ed Price of FanHouse tweeted a Pfun Pfact last night. Since 1988, 15 teams have started 1-8 or 0-9. They averaged 95
losses. So the O’s have that goin’ for them. Which is nice.

Red Sox 6, Twins 3: There was some rain in this game. All the coverage I’ve seen makes a big deal out of this. Even the AP story has a ball: “Some fans scurried for the concourses and others hastily put up their
umbrellas,” the nameless writer says. As if a team that plays 81 road games a year and a city that, once in a while anyway, left the Metrodome over the past 30 years finds precipitation frightening and confusing. We get it: they play outdoors now. Let’s move on to another storyline.  As for the baseball, the
Sox aren’t missing Ellsbury, as Jeremy Hermida hit a three run double
in the eighth. Orlando Hudson on John Lackey, who gave up two runs in six and two-thirds:
“He’s no pushover. You don’t give ($82.5) million to a pushover.”  You give it to a WHITE MAN, because baseball lives to keep the BLACK free agents down, Hudson did not add.

Eagles 14, Redskins 7: Craig Stammen and Kyle Kendrick gave up seven and six runs, respectively, in their 1.1 and 1.2 innings of work. After that the Philly bullpen restored order, allowing only one more run, while the Nats merely slowed, rather than stopped the bleeding. Some Phillies fans I know worried that Shane Victorino wouldn’t take to the leadoff spot after Rollins went down. Last night he went 4-5, 3B, HR and 5 RBI from there. I think he’ll be just fine, thank you. No one ever worries about Chase Utley. And why should they? He hit two homers. Charlie Manuel thought it was all really swell.

Rangers 6, Indians 2: Nelson Cruz hit his sixth homer. In the sixth inning Michael Brantley hit a double that would have easily scored three runs, but everyone was limited to two bases when a fan interfered with it — grabbing the ball with his glove — and keeping Luis Valbuena at third base. Line of the night goes to MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince: “Ironic that on a night with so few fans, fan
interference has played a role.” And it was a small crowd. Smallest since the team moved into the Jake back in 1994.

Angels 5, Yankees 3: I covered the Vazquez start yesterday. Good? No. Worthy of scorn? No. The Yankees aren’t going to go 162-0, and at some point their fans are going to have to come to grips with that. Especially when you face a sinkerballer who is as on as Joel Piniero was yesterday afternoon. Five hits, one run, seven strikeouts, zero walks and a grounder-to-fly ball ratio of 11-3. All you can do is shake your head, go to sleep and come back the next day and try again.

Royals 7, Tigers 3: I’m not sure what’s more surprising: that Jose Guillen has homered in four straight games or that he has 200 home runs for his career. As for Detroit, they had the bases loaded and no one out with Miguel Cabrera at
the plate in the fifth and the inning ends with the Tigers scoring one run.
I got a lot of heat for ranking Detroit above the Twins in this week’s power rankings. Rest assured, this miscalculation on my part will be remedied this coming Monday.

Cardinals 2, Astros 1: Try as he did, Brett Myers (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7K) couldn’t deliver the Astros their first win of the season, because Brad Penny had a little more (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 4K). All of the run scoring came in the first inning. We’re apparently entering the “God hates us” portion of the Astros early season catastrophe. Next up will likely be 17-16 game loss by Houston on a suicide squeeze play in the bottom of the ninth followed by a forfeit due to a laundry snafu.

Rockies 6, Mets 5: The Mets came back late, scoring one in the eighth and ninth to tie it, but didn’t capitalize when they had runners on second and third in the tenth. Jenrry Mejia only got a chance to throw four pitches in the tenth, the fourth of which resulted in a long Chris Ianetta homer.  The Mets could use this as a teaching experience for him: relief pitchers need to be able to forget what just happened and bounce back the next day and take the ball again. Sadly, Mejia should be learning how to be a starting pitcher right now, not a reliever.

Braves 6, Padres 1: Hey look! A young starting pitcher who isn’t being mishandled. Tommy Hanson gave up one run and struck out seven over six innings. It took the Braves six innings to get to Chris Clayton Richard, but they got to him. The big shot, not off Richard, was a Troy Glaus three-run homer, his first of the year.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: Jason Vargas was solid and, for the first time all year, that whole Ichiro-Figgins small-ball plan that seemed so spiffy in the offseason bore some fruit: Bunt single for Ichiro in the fifth, followed by a Figgins walk, followed by Gutierrez walk, followed by a Milton Bradley RBI single. M’s fans say “more please.”

Diamondbacks 9, Dodgers 7: Just your average five-lead-changes, 16-run, 4:57 affair. The Dbacks had a chance to win this one in regulation, but Chad Qualls gave up a double to Manny in the ninth, which was followed up by a Casey Blake RBI double. Chris Young was the hero, though. Matt Kemp misplayed a ball in center, allowing Mark Reynolds to reach in the 11th, loading up the bases. Young singled, driving in one and then Augie Ojeda had a sacrifice fly. Last year the Dodgers had one of the best bullpens around. Last night they had Russ Ortiz pitching in the 11th. That’s a bit of a step down.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 3, Athletics 2: Dellin Betances is fast. Very fast, in fact. Take this pitch, for example, which registered an approximate 100.2 m.p.h. on the radar gun before it ripped through Gary Sanchez‘s mitt — literally:

Josh Phegley flied out to left field on the next pitch, and you have to think he was relieved not to be behind the dish during that at-bat. The win marked the Yankees’ fourth of the week, just enough to keep their heads above water in the AL East.

Blue Jays 3, Rangers 1: It just wasn’t Rougned Odor‘s day. While none of the Rangers looked particularly sharp against Toronto’s defense on Saturday, Odor had the worst of it. He struck out swinging against Marco Estrada in the first inning, then was stranded in the fourth after lassoing a single to left field. In the sixth inning, he tried and failed — in spectacular fashion — to beat out an infield single:

Odor took a final at-bat in the ninth inning as the Rangers attempted a last-minute rally, but it went about as well as the others had, falling in the Rangers’ favor as they executed a smooth play to catch him at first base.

White Sox 3, Tigers 0: There was something for everyone during Saturday’s doubleheader. Game 1 went to the White Sox, where rookie right-hander Tyler Danish made his first major league start to the tune of five scoreless innings, distributing three hits, six walks and six strikeouts for his first career win. Opposing starter Michael Fulmer took the first complete game loss of his career, firing nine hits, three runs and four strikeouts in eight frames.

Most exciting, however, was watching the player tasked with throwing the ceremonial first pitch: none other than Cuban prospect Luis Robert, whom the White Sox officially inked with a $26 million signing bonus earlier that day.

Tigers 4, White Sox 3: The Tigers took the edge in Game 2 of the doubleheader, finally getting on the board with home runs from John Hicks and Victor Martinez and a pair of productive outs (including a run-scoring wild pitch on a swinging strikeout) from J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton. The win effected little change for either team, however, keeping them neck-and-neck in third and fourth place in the AL Central.

Twins 5, Rays 3: Brian Dozier extended his hitting streak to eight games on Saturday, fueling the Twins’ 26th win of the season after he clobbered a two-run, tie-breaking home run in the eighth inning. Byron Buxton rounded out the rally with an RBI single of his own, giving the club just enough cushion to finish off the Rays in the ninth. With the win, the Twins are now a full three games ahead of the second-place Indians.

Phillies 4, Reds 3: If you’re in the market for a walk-off hit, Tommy Joseph is your guy. The Phillies’ first baseman came through in the clutch again on Saturday, polishing off his two-hit performance with a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Joseph provided the Phillies with his first career walk-off hit on Thursday, lashing a single against the Rockies’ Scott Oberg to finalize the Phillies’ 2-1 win. According to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, no Phillies player has produced as many walk-off hits in a three-day span since Juan Samuel did so in 1985.

Red Sox 6, Mariners 0: Spot starter Brian Johnson took the mound in place of David Price on Saturday, and what a spot start it was. The 26-year-old returned to Fenway Park for the first time since 2015, executing nine flawless frames in his third major league start and first career complete game shutout. The outing was a redemptive one for the southpaw, who took a line drive to the face when he last pitched in Fenway several years ago.

Johnson’s picture-perfect outing brought the Red Sox within two games of the division lead, but his contributions capped a short-lived stay in the majors. With David Price set to make his season debut on Monday, the rookie left-hander was optioned to Triple-A Pawtucket to clear a roster spot for the returning ace.

Nationals 3, Padres 0: Next to the Astros, the Nationals have the largest margin between a first and second place team in any MLB division, sitting a comfortable 8.5 games above the next-place Braves. It’s easy to see why after Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg ripped through the Padres’ lineup this weekend, combining for 28 strikeouts in back-to-back wins. Strasburg’s 15 strikeouts were the most of any start in his career to date, stifling the Padres’ offense through seven innings of the Nats’ 3-0 shutout.

While Strasburg has been pitching with an average run support cushion of 4.31 in all other starts this season, he only needed a three-run backing to put up his sixth win on Saturday. Bryce Harper and Michael Taylor did the honors, scoring on a fielder’s choice and a two-RBI home run, respectively.

Brewers 6, Diamondbacks 1: There hasn’t been a no-hitter in the majors since Jake Arrieta‘s gem last April, but Brewers’ starter Chase Anderson gave it his best shot on Saturday. Anderson crafted seven pristine innings against the Diamondbacks, surrendering three walks and striking out 11 of 25 batters before Nick Ahmed came through with a leadoff single in the eighth.

Anderson was pulled after Ahmed’s single, but even if he had managed to keep the no-no going, it seems unlikely that club manager Craig Counsell would have pushed his starter much further. The righty had already tossed 114 pitches, a career-high mark and the most he’d thrown in a single outing since last May.

Royals 5, Indians 2: Ned Yost was handed his 40th career ejection during the Royals’ win on Saturday — or, as his three-year-old grandson would put it, a “timeout.” Yost was booted in the first inning after arguing against a strikeout call on Eric Hosmer‘s check-swing attempt. While Yost mulled over the ejection in the clubhouse, his grandson took him to task:

Angels 5, Marlins 2: No one can shatter a Mike Trout record like Mike Trout. The Angels’ slugger went yard for the 16th time this season, drilling a 2-2 pitch from Vance Worley 443 feet into the left field concourse during Saturday’s win. According to Statcast, the ball traveled at approximately 113.8 m.p.h. — Trout’s hardest-hit home run in 13 months.

“I hit it good,” Trout told reporters after the game. Truer words were never spoken.

Astros 5, Orioles 2: The Astros prevailed for their third consecutive win on Saturday, helped in part by a Cirque du Soleil-esque catch by shortstop Carlos Correa in the eighth inning. Down 5-2 after seven innings, the Orioles’ Joey Rickard skied a pop up to shallow center field. Correa and Jose Altuve ran in on the play, narrowly avoiding a collision as the shortstop made an impressive over-the-shoulder grab for the first out.

Altuve attempted to dust off his teammate following the play, but Correa wasn’t having it:

Dodgers 5, Cubs 0: The Cubs have yet to score on their road trip this weekend after Brandon McCarthy initiated the Dodgers’ second consecutive shutout of the series on Saturday. In fact, the Cubs have only won two of eight games on the road — and their last road trip win dates all the way back to May 12.

There was no beating McCarthy, however. The right-hander contributed six innings of two-hit ball, striking out six batters before he exited in the seventh with right knee tendinitis. Ross Stripling finished off the shutout, allowing one hit and striking out two of 11 batters to preserve the lead.

Pirates 5, Mets 4 (10 innings): John Jaso played the unlikely hero during the Pirates’ walk-off win on Saturday. He’s batting just .194/.295/.357 through his first 44 games of the year, but had a breakthrough moment in the ninth inning, lacing a pinch-hit single to left field to send the game to extras.

The Pirates chased Tyler Pill out of the 10th inning, loading the bases to bring Jaso back to the plate. He battled through nine pitches against Josh Edgin, finally selecting a 3-2 slider for his second RBI single — and walk-off run — of the night.

Cardinals 3, Rockies 0: Adam Wainwright is on a roll. He turned in his third win in a row after holding the Rockies scoreless through seven innings, giving up three hits and six strikeouts to bring the Cardinals within half a game of the division lead.

The Rockies, meanwhile, took the loss in stride. Gerardo Parra kept fans distracted from the team’s losing effort, even handing out sticks of gum in the ninth inning:

Giants 6, Braves 3: After four straight losses and a cumulative six runs scored, the Giants finally broke through against the Braves on Saturday. Nick Hundley got things started in the second inning, putting the Giants on the board with his first home run of the season:

In the fourth, Brandon Belt drove a four-run spread with his tenth home run of the year, while Ty Blach engineered his own run support with an RBI single. Blach was even better on the mound, pitching through 7 2/3 innings with two runs and five strikeouts and setting Mark Melancon up for his 10th save.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.