And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Braves blue jerseys.jpgBraves 6, Padres 2: Throwback uniform day at Petco. San Diego’s throwbacks were fairly hideous. Many people lump all of their yellow and brown uniforms together, but there were many variates working off that color scheme. Some were pretty sweet, actually. Yesterday’s, not so much. As for Atlanta, I like their current classic home duds the best, but these powder blues were a nice jolt of nostalgia for me, as that’s what they were wearing when I first encountered them back in the day. As for the game itself, there was some swift defense at second base as both Jerry Hairston and Martin Prado made awesome grabs. Tim Hudson labored for Atlanta, but the bullpen held firm and Jason Heyward’s two RBI doubles padded the lead.

Astros 5, Cardinals 1: Somewhere in Maryland the 1988 Baltimore Orioles are gathering together to open up special bottles of champagne with which they will celebrate their historic season-opening losing streak record lasting yet another year.  Wait, that’s not 100% accurate. They don’t gather; they drink alone. And it’s not champagne, it’s Cold Duck. Warm Cold Duck.

Mets 5, Rockies 0: Seven innings of five-hit shutout ball from Mike Pelfrey, and then two scoreless innings from the pen give the Mets a much needed win. The runs scored on a wild pitch, two fielder’s choices and a couple of singles, but that hardly matters when the other guys can’t score to save their lives.

Twins 8, Red Sox 0: Francisco Liriano is back, my friends. Eight strikeouts, four hits, two walks and a big goose egg for the Sox while throwing an utter economy of pitches. David Ortiz sat for Boston and with the way Liriano was dealing, that was probably a good idea.

Indians 3, Rangers 2: Like I said yesterday, this one was done in a minute and a Huff. Or at least it seemed like it. Tough luck loss for Matt Harrison, who had a shutout going into the eighth before his defense betrayed him, with errors by Michael Young and Elvis Andrus allowing the baserunners who scored when Choo hit his three-run bomb.

Nationals 7, Phillies 5: A day after the Phillies pen saved the day with nearly a full game’s worth of work, it should be expected that they would run out of gas (though maybe we don’t get to the pen so early if J.A. Happ doesn’t walk six batters). The Phillies led 4-1 after six, but the Nats chipped away with homers from Adam Dunn and a pinch-hitting Ryan Zimmerman and RBI singles from Ian Desmond and Ivan Rodriguez.

Marlins 10, Reds 2: The story on Aaron Harang this year is that after a couple of years of injuries, he was supposed to be all healthy again and ready to be the workhorse again. Right now he looks ready for the glue factory (4 IP, 10 H, 8 ER). Jorge Cantu had both a hit and an RBI for the tenth straight game. I’m sure I’ll one day tell my grandkids about where I was and what I was doing when it happened.  Ten strikeouts for Josh Johnson.

Blue Jays 7, White Sox 3: Dana Eveland allowed two runs and three hits in six innings.  He also truly entered my consciousness for, I think, the first time. I mean, on some level I knew he was an A’s starter last year, but if you had asked me really quickly who “Dana Eveland” was this morning, I would have been just as likely to guess that it was an actress from back in the 40s who used to play second banana in musicals and light comedies. Maybe she was with Warner Brothers but was loaned out to MGM on occasion. That sort of thing.  This is what happens when you rarely watch west coast games.

Brewers 8, Cubs 6: Ryan Braun went 4-5 with a homer and three RBI on a day when the Wrigley wind was blowing out at 18 m.p.h.

Yankees 6, Angels 2: Phil Hughes gave up two runs over five innings and picked up the win in his 2010 debut. Two homers for Cano, two triples for Granderson and a more or less unnecessary save for Mariano Rivera. Oh, and the Yankees fans did the wave during this game, which pretty much undercuts all of their protestations about how savvy and knowledgeable they were in the wake of the Vazquez booing criticism. The wave. In Yankee Stadium. Inexcusable.

Athletics
6, Orioles 2
: Ben Sheets has been ailing, but the Orioles are the
sort of team that can cure what ails you. Six shutout innings for
Sheets, who gets his first win since 2008. The Orioles kick of a ten
game road trip with this loss. The way they’re playing it’s going to
feel even longer than that.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 5: Chad Qualls with his second straight blown save, though this time his defense let him down, with Stephen Drew throwing away what would have been out number three (and I mean really throwing it away). Don Newcombe threw out the first pitch. Yesterday I linked to what I thought was the worst baseball song of all time. It’s worth noting that one of the better ones is called  “Strike One.” It’s a jump blues number by Teddy Reynolds. Another one is “Newk’s Fadeaway” by Sonny Rollins. Both can be found on the most excellent baseball episode of Bob Dylan’s “Theme Time Radio Hour,” which you can get on CD if you’re so inclined. Tons of non-Creed baseball songs there.

Report: Blue Jays weighing extension for Marco Estrada

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The Blue Jays aren’t ready to say goodbye to Marco Estrada just yet, according to a report by FanRag’s Robert Murray. Murray hears that the club is interested in re-signing the right-hander, whose two-year, $26 million contract is set to expire with the end of the 2017 season. According to unnamed sources within the organization, the team has yet to discuss the specifics of an extension, but both sides have stated interest in working out a deal. While the veteran righty appeared to be on his way out after getting claimed on revocable waivers earlier this month, the Blue Jays were either unable or unwilling to arrange a trade in the 48-hour window following the claim.

Estrada, 33, has been a mainstay of the Blue Jays’ rotation since 2015. He hasn’t looked quite himself this season, however, going 5-8 in 25 starts with the club and toting a 5.09 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 9.2 SO/9 through 139 2/3 innings. His slump can be partially attributed to a string of rough starts in June and July; more recently, he snapped a streak of three consecutive quality starts with a 10-hit, six-run affair against the Rays. He’ll look to rebound on Sunday when he takes the hill against the Cubs for the team’s series finale.

Command issues aside, there’s no question that Estrada has been productive during his three-year run with the club, earning his first career All-Star nomination in 2016 and posting a cumulative 6.7 fWAR from 2015 through 2017. He still has a bit of work to do to return to the 3.48-ERA, 165-strikeout totals of yesteryear, but barring another slump, seems likely to don a Blue Jays uniform again in 2018.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Cubs 4, Blue Jays 3: The Blue Jays didn’t look any more comfortable at Wrigley Field on Saturday than they had during Friday’s series opener, dropping their second straight game after Anthony Rizzo sealed the go-ahead run on an RBI single in the seventh inning. The Cubs, meanwhile, reveled in Jose Quintana’s second quality start of the month and delighted the crowd with a two-RBI effort from Ian Happ and footage of David Ross jumping out of a plane — a stunt that would have doubled in entertainment value had Ross successfully convinced manager Joe Maddon to join in the fun.

Pirates 6, Cardinals 4: Neither the Pirates nor the Cardinals had relievers to spare when a one-hour, 56-minute rain delay disrupted their contest in the second inning. Chad Kuhl and Michael Wacha were forced to return to the mound after the downpour subsided, both to very different results. Wacha struggled to regain command of the strike zone, slipping on two home runs and a productive double play as the Pirates built a five-run lead in the second. Kuhl, on the other hand, limited the Cardinals to one run over five innings, setting down six strikeouts and clubbing a second-inning double en route to his sixth win of the season.

Dodgers 3, Tigers 0: Curtis Granderson made his Dodgers debut on Saturday, scoring on Adrian Gonzalez’s RBI single in the seventh inning to put the club on the board. The win, capped by a smart Yasmani Grandal home run in the ninth, marked the Dodgers’ sixth straight victory and placed them in the history books alongside the 2004 Rays and 2006 Red Sox with 13 consecutive Interleague wins in a single season.

Mariners 7, Rays 6: Mitch Haniger is back from the disabled list, a point he emphasized in the third inning of Seattle’s win with his first career grand slam:

The Rays returned with three solo shots in the last third of the game, but fell just short of the tying run after Edwin Diaz shut down the top of the order in the ninth. With the win, the Mariners positioned themselves half a game back of a wild card spot, though they’ll need to edge the Angels and Twins to avoid any potential tie-breakers.

Angels 5, Orioles 1: Albert Pujols didn’t get any closer to tying Jim Thome’s home run record on Saturday, but that didn’t stop teammate Mike Trout from entering the history books. Trout clubbed two home runs in the Angels’ first win of the weekend, becoming the third Major League player with six consecutive 25+ homer campaigns before his age-26 season. Luis Valbuena, while a good 511 home runs shy of Pujols’ career record and 94 home runs and six years too late to match Trout’s milestone, also collected two home runs to back a solid effort from JC Ramirez.

Twins 5, Diamondbacks 0: The Diamondbacks were toppled in a rare shutout on Saturday, taking their second consecutive loss after an even rarer implosion from ace right-hander Zack Greinke. Greinke expended 96 pitches and a season-high four walks in four innings, while Minnesota trounced the D-backs with a five-run spread in the fourth. The righty’s early exit will put a strain on Arizona’s bullpen during their series finale as the club tries to stop their skid and retake their one-game lead over the Rockies in the NL wild card race.

Reds 11, Braves 8: It looked like Robert Stephenson‘s luck may have finally taken a turn for the better. The rookie right-hander grabbed hold of his first win of the year on Saturday, backing the team’s 11-run outburst with five innings of two-run, three-strikeout ball. Cincinnati’s bullpen was far from flawless, especially after Blake Wood surrendered four runs in the ninth, but Scooter Gennett‘s go-ahead grand slam in the top of the inning gave the Reds enough of a cushion to pull off the series win.

Mets 8, Marlins 1: Marcell Ozuna wore several hats during Saturday’s loss to the Mets, from sole run producer to professional outfield field balloon patrol.

Despite his best efforts, the Marlins couldn’t rally against Rafael Montero, who helped snap a five-game losing streak after scattering one run and five strikeouts over six innings.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 3: Newly-returned from the disabled list, CC Sabathia stifled the rival Red Sox through six innings while Todd Frazier belted the winning run with a 363-footer in the sixth. The Sox still sit four games up in the NL East, however, and commemorated the loss with a solo shot by 20-year-old Rafael Devers, who bounced a home run off the Green Monster for the third homer he’s collected in as many games against the Yankees. For the record, no Major League player under the age of 21 has managed the feat since Babe Ruth in 1915.

Astros 3, Athletics 0: Astros’ third baseman Alex Bregman learned an invaluable lesson during the club’s 3-0 shutout on Saturday: If you’re thinking of running on Boog Powell, don’t.

Indians 5, Royals 0: Trevor Bauer may not understand why he dominated during the Indians’ shutout on Saturday, but that didn’t make him any less grateful for the win. “It’s backward,” Bauer was quoted by MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “I wasn’t sharp. I didn’t punch people out. I had a lot of balls hit hard. And no runs. So I don’t know. I’ll take it.” Bauer flummoxed the Royals through 6 1/3 innings, granting seven hits and two free passes while the Indians put up a modest five-run backing against Jason Vargas.

Rangers 17, White Sox 7: The Rangers hit season highs in almost every category on Saturday, dismantling Derek Holland and the rest of the White Sox with a whopping 17 runs, 20 hits and 36 bases. Home runs from Rougned Odor, Mike Napoli and Shin-Soo Choo crowned their efforts as the White Sox took their sixth loss in seven games and dropped to a disappointing 21.5 games back of the division lead.

Brewers 6, Rockies 3: Jesus Aguilar hasn’t been pencilled into the starting lineup since August 16, but that didn’t stop the rookie pinch-hitter from making his presence felt. He cranked a two-RBI home run off of Greg Holland in the ninth, giving the Brewers an edge as they tried to stay ahead of the Diamondbacks for the first wild card spot in the National League. Key defensive moves also played a role in the win, not the least of which was a rare 2-6-2 double play to nab Neil Walker at the plate and close out the first inning:

Padres 3, Nationals 1: Yangervis Solarte played spoiler to Stephen Strasburg on Saturday, taking the right-hander deep on a 1-2 pitch in the first inning for his 13th home run of the season. It was the fatal flaw in an otherwise pristine outing, during which Strasburg distributed four hits, two runs and eight strikeouts in six innings. That’s not too shabby for a pitcher coming off the disabled list with elbow issues, and certainly enough to put the Nats’ minds at ease as they push into the postseason. The Padres still have a 12-game gap to close if they want to contend this October, which will require them to scoot past the Pirates, Marlins, Cardinals, Brewers and Diamondbacks for a wild card spot.

Phillies 12, Giants 9: Denard Span didn’t come to mess around. The Giants’ centerfielder squared up the first pitch he saw from the Phillies’ Jared Eickhoff, postmarking it to the right field corner in the first inning. He needed just 15.79 seconds to touch home plate again, logging his first inside-the-park home run since he legged one out in Little League.

The Giants’ offense mustered up an additional eight runs behind Span’s initial effort, but had no way of preventing Ty Blach and Josh Osich from returning all nine runs and then some. The Phillies’ win, powered by a seven-run explosion in the sixth inning and Ty Kelly‘s go-ahead grand slam, was their second in 10 games and snapped a six-game skid.