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.

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.