And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Heyward shaving cream.jpgBraves 4, Rockies 3: Heymaker. The Braves trailed 3-2 with two-down in the bottom of the ninth. Heyward comes to the plate with the bases juiced and hits a two-run single to left field and that’s the ballgame. He had earlier walked with the bases loaded, giving him three RBI on the day. Martin Prado drove in the other Braves run, as he, Heyward and Brian McCann continue to be the entirety of the Atlanta offense. The Braves should have had much more, however. They walked 11 times, had eight hits yet only the four runs, suggesting a team that is fairly allergic to hitting with runners in scoring position. But hey, Heyward’s legend grows.

Dodgers 2, Giants 1: The Platonic ideal of a Giants-Dodgers game. A sunny 75 degree afternoon in L.A., a fabulous pitchers’ duel and a big bomb from the big-name slugger. Zito and Kershaw both gave up one run in seven innings, more or less, but the run charged to Zito came when Sergio Romo gave up a pinch hit homer to Manny Ramirez allowing both Ramirez and an inherited runner to score. Manny’s homer tied him with Mike Schmidt for 14th place on the all-time list.

Rays 7, Red Sox 1: Four straight losses for the Sox and five of their last six. This one was a textbook wood-shedding. Matt Garza stifled the Sox’ bats, shutting them out on four hits over eight innings. Two run homers for Carlos Pena and B.J. Upton provided more than enough offense. The heart of the Red Sox’ lineup — Pedroia, Martinez, Youkilis and Drew — combined to go 0-12 with one measly walk, though Dustin Pedroia did have a sacrifice fly in the ninth. I suppose there will be much written tomorrow in the “what’s wrong with the Red Sox” vein, but the fact is that they just played the Rays and the Twin, and it’s not unreasonable to think that the Rays and the Twins are simply better than the Red Sox this year.

Brewers 11, Nationals 7: Jason Marquis surges past Mike Gonzalez in the race for worst signing of 2010! The man who styled himself a mentor to Stephen Strasburg over the winter didn’t get any of the seven men he faced in game out. Four of them got hits, one of them walked, the other two were hit by pitches and all seven of them scored. They went on to score three more on Miguel Batista’s dime. Doug Davis’ day was pretty ignominious too. Staked to a 10-run lead, he couldn’t even lodge the five he needed to qualify for the win.

Cardinals 5, Mets 3: La Russa and Manuel probably started drinking straight from the bottle when they realized that it was 3-3 in the eighth and extra innings loomed again, but Ryan Ludwick wanted no part of it and hit a two-run jack to end it in regulation. Adam Wainwright went the distance for St. Louis, which may be a sign that La Russa is losing confidence in Joe Mather’s ability to close a game.

Pirates 5, Reds 3: The two homers from Jay Bruce were not enough to break the Reds’ losing streak, which is now up to five games. Lots of people — myself included — figured the Reds could be a bit frisky this season. Not frisky enough to make the playoffs or anything like that, but frisky enough to turn some heads and make them the trendy pick for next year. If they’re going to make that kind of noise they’d better get hoppin’. They’re 5-8. The Pirates, in contrast, picked by many to challenge for the worst record in baseball, are 7-5.

Marlins 2, Phillies 0: The Phillies have suddenly lost three of four, the last two due to lack of offense. It was Nate Robertson — Nate Robertson?! — yes, Nate Robertson who silenced the Philly bats yesterday, shutting them out for six and a third. Not that he was infallible or anything — he walked four — but he dodged bullets. Cole Hamels was excellent (8 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 8K) but if you don’t score, you can’t win. Dan Uggla was the entire Florida offense, homering once and doubling in the second run.

Angels 3, Blue Jays 1: And now the Angels have won four of five, this time behind Evin Santana’s almost shuotout. How almost? He was 3-2 on Adam Lind with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning when he gave up a solo shot. Next batter was Vernon Wells who lined out, ending the game.  Ricky Romero — who came close to a no-no his last time out — was excellent too (8 IP, 1 ER), but just like Cole Hamles in the Phillies’ game, he couldn’t do better than a shutout. Or even a near-shutout.

Yankees 5, Rangers 2: Mark Teixeira hit his first homer of the year helping the Yankees sweep the Rangers. Ramiro Pena, playing short for the Yankees because Derek Jeter had a cold, was quite an admirable substitution, hitting a two-run single. Andy Pettitte was Andy Pettitte, pitching four-hit ball. Rich Harden was awful, walking six guys and hitting two more in three and two-thirds.

Indians 7, White Sox 4: Shin-Soo Choo hit a grand slam and drove in another run on an RBI single. He has now hit in seven straight, raising his average a couple hundred points over that time, which is the sort of thing that makes April awesome. To say that Gavin Floyd didn’t have it today would be an insult to the concept of having it (1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 BB). He faced five guys in the second inning and all of them reached. It was the first time the Tribe has swept the Chisox at home in seven years.

Astros 3, Cubs 2: After giving up a two-run single to Marlon Byrd in the third, Wandy Rodriguez and the Astros’ pen shut the Cubbies down. Ryan Dempster gave up only one run himself, but Carlos Marmol couldn’t close the deal. Pedro Feliz’ sacrifice in the 10th provided the winning margin.

Royals 10, Twins 5: Alberto Callaspo hit two three-run homers and Carl Pavano added to the fairly lengthy list of disastrous starting pitching performances on Sunday (3.1 IP, 11 H, 7 ER).

Orioles 8, Athletics 3: A homer and 4 RBI for Ty Wigginton helps the O’s end their skid at nine. Brett Anderson, the Athletics’ new $12.5 million man, got beat up (5 IP, 8 H, 6 R). He’s a professional so I’m sure it wasn’t because he went on a two-day bender to celebrate his new contract, but it’s the sort of thing I like to imagine happens once in a while. Like, he woke up in Tijuana yesterday morning with a woman named Sharlene on one side of him and a donkey on the other, couldn’t find his ID so he paid a man with an eye patch to smuggle him back over t
he border and then stowed aw
ay in a crop duster to get back up to Oakland in time for the game. What with all of that — which I’m almost certain didn’t happen — only giving up six runs is something of an accomplishment. But shhhh!  No one tell Brett than he and Sharlene are married!

Padres 5, Diamondbacks 3: On Friday night Chase Headley hit a three-run homer with two outs in the
ninth to seal a come-from-behind victory. Yesterday’s two-run double in the seventh was not quite so dramatic, but it served San Diego’s interests just fine. That’s four straight losses for the Dbacks. Indeed, there are a lot of streaky teams in baseball right now: the Yankees and Indians have won four in a row and the Rays have won six in a row. Meanwhile, the Red Sox, White Sox and Rangers join Arizona with four straight in the tank, and the Reds have their five-game skid.

Tigers 4, Mariners 2: Eric Byrnes subbed-in for the sore-calfed Milton Bradley yesterday and really got his money’s worth. He was in a collision at the plate (out), he slammed into the wall trying to catch an Austin Jackson fly ball (triple) and laid out to catch a hit off the bat of Carlos Guillen (popped out of his glove). Open question as to whether 110% of nothin’ is still worthwhile, but it’s kinda fun to watch.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most:

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 30:  Matt Harvey #33 of the New York Mets celebrates after retiring the side in the seventh inning against the Chicago White Sox  during their game at Citi Field on May 30, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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There were a lot of complete games and a lot of non-complete games that nonetheless saved tired bullpens yesterday. It’s not like it was 1973 all over again or anything, but it was pretty notable all the same. Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 1, White Sox 0: Matt Harvey is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 6/1 since deciding to not talk to the media. Clearly avoiding the press is a good move for him and he should continue to do so.

Braves 5, Giants 3: Mike Foltynewicz gave up an early homer to Brandon Belt but then buckled down and allowed only one run over six innings. Mallex Smith hit a three-run triple. If you squint a little you can imagine those two starring in games that actually matter for Atlanta one day.

Red Sox 7, Orioles 2: Steven Wright allowed two runs on four hits in tossing a complete game. It was his third of those on the year. In 2015 the league leaders in complete games in both the NL and the AL notched four each. Will White had 75 of them in 1879. People always talk about Joe DiMaggio’s hitting streak as being baseball’s ultimate unbreakable record. I got my money on Will White’s CG mark. If you insist on going post-deadball era I’ll take Bob Feller’s 36 in 1946, which I’m pretty sure is equally unbreakable.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 0: Carlos Martinez struck out eight in eight shutout innings — he needed that — and Matt Carpenter had four hits. Martinez has owned the Brewers so far in his career. He should be getting quarterly reports and have his own parking space at Miller Park.

Athletics 3, Twins 2: Kendall Graveman had an uncharacteristically solid start. Coco Crisp led off the game with a homer. He also added to the difficulty of a nice Chris Coghlan catch on a sac fly in the fifth, providing a body block of sorts. We’ve still never seen a heel-turn in a major league baseball game, but this is how one would start. They’re more creative now, but back in the 80s all the good heel turns started with some minor accident or miscommunication during a tag team match or something, causing the newly formed heel to believe his friend had turned on him when he really just made a mistake. If Coghlan was getting a push as a new heel, this is how it’d go. I doubt it will happen because MLB’s bookers really aren’t on top of things, but I’m gonna watch the next A’s game anyway to see if he hits Crisp with a metal chair during a standup interview with whoever the A’s version of Gordon Solie is.

Mariners 9, Padres 3Kyle Seager and Dae-Ho Lee homered. It wasn’t too long ago that the two teams combined in a Mariners-Padres game might not score nine runs in a whole three-game series. Or at least it felt like that. Seattle has come a long way.

Reds 11, Rockies 8: An 11-8 game with 28 hits and seven home runs that featured a big lead blown and a big rally that had its momentum maintained by a walk to a pitcher? Let me guess: Coors Field? *checks* Yes, I guessed correctly. Two homers from Adam Duvall who has 11 13 on the year somehow.

Astros 8, Diamondbacks 3: The offense was nice for Houston but a big game from Collin McHugh, going the distance the day after the Astros bullpen got sapped, was huge for them too. Jason Castro drove in three. Houston has won six of seven. I told y’all they’d come around eventually.

Cubs 2, Dodgers 0: Jason Hammel had to leave the game after two shutout innings with hamstring cramps. All the Cubs bullpen did was toss seven perfect innings. Not seven shutout innings. Seven perfect innings. Dang. One hit and one walk in the game for the Dodgers, each off of Hammel.

Rangers 9, Indians 2: Nomar Mazara’s hit a homer — a long homer —  in the fourth innins. He now has five home runs and 12 RBI in his last 11 games. The Astros may be turning it around, but the first place Rangers have won eight of 10 so it’s not like they’re gaining much ground.

Nationals 4, Phillies 3: Daniel Murphy hit a solo homer, singled, doubled and drove in three. He’s at .395/.426/.621 on the year. That’ll play. Bryce Harper had to leave after getting hit on the knee with a pitch, but he shouldn’t miss much time.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2: The Jays have taken five of six. Marco Estrada allowed three hits and struck out six in eight shutout innings. Just a ton of strong pitching performances yesterday. Not crazy Kershaw-style things, but a lot of “the bullpen was tired after the weekend and we need you to eat innings” kind of gutsy performances, this one being no exception.

Pirates 10, Marlins 0: OK, I take that back. Jeff Locke had a dominant performance with a three-hit shutout. Although he only struck out one dude, so that may or may not qualify depending on your definition of dominance. 105 pitches and no walks is pretty dang spiffy either way, though. Gregory Polanco hit a grand slam. Guy is hitting .315/.393/.565 from the 7-hole.

Royals 6, Rays 2: Eric Hosmer hit a three-run bomb in the Royals’ four-run eighth inning. Four wins in a row for the champs.

Angels 5, Tigers 1: Justin Verlander and Jhoulys Chacin traded zeroes until the eighth inning when Verlander ran out of zeros. The Angels rallied four five runs that inning, four charged to JV, and Chacin kept cruising, finishing the game with 10 strikeouts and allowing only one run in a complete game.