And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Andre Ethier Slam.jpgDodgers 7, Brewers 3:  Walkoff slam for Andre Ethier! Jonathan Broxton had blown a two-run lead in the top of the ninth, but Either untied it with authority to end it. It was Ethier’s second game-ending hit of the season and 11th since the
start of 2008. Video here.

Rangers 13, Royals 12: Texas jumped out to an eight run lead, blew it, and then hit back-to-back homers off Joakim Soria to come from behind. Note to the Rangers: there are no adjustments given for degree-of-difficulty. Just win the friggin’ ballgame the easy way next time, OK? In other news, make sure you have emergency provisions, your bible, your gun and head into your panic room, because the end is nigh: Yuniesky Betancourt walked twice.

Nationals 3, Braves 2: Scott Olson takes a no-hitter into the eighth, only to have it broken up by singles from David Ross and Nate McLouth. Then, 17 personnel changes of questionable wisdom later, Tyler Clippard gave up a two-run, pinch hit single to Jason Heyward — Jason Heyward? — yes, Jason Heyward.  All seemed lost for the Nats as the Braves loaded up the bases with one out in the ninth but this time Ross grounded into a double play. The Nats scored the winning run on a walk, a double, a walk and a single.  On some level it’s just easier to lose 5-1.

Phillies 7, Cardinals 2: I talked about Halladay’s day here, so I’ll leave that alone.  Here’s something to chew on: the Cardinals have looked absolutely lost in series against the Phillies and the Giants who — nothin’ personal San Diego Padres — look like a couple of teams St. Louis might face in the playoffs.

Pirates 11, Cubs 1:  The Cubs had a bit of momentum and the Pirates dead ahead, so you figured things would keep looking up. Then Pittsburgh sweeps ’em. And what’s this? The Pirates actually win a blowout?  Must be the result of the Pirates’ “two-hour pregame meeting with a communications coach designed to build
their social skills and boost their image” reported in the game story. Word on the street is that they learned during the meeting that losing is a disease. As contagious as polio.

Giants 6, Marlins 3: Matt Cain had a no-hitter through six and pitched into the eighth. After him it took four relievers to get the final six outs, but really this one wasn’t close. San Francisco is in first place all by its lonesome now.

Diamondbacks 6, Astros 3: There goes Houston’s 1-game winning streak. Kelly Johnson hit his 10th home run which is further proof that the universe is random and lawless and that anything can happen.

Orioles 2, Twins 0: I’d like to think that the Orioles pitchers are getting a secret kick out of Andy MacPhail publicly criticize all the hitters, what with all of that “the hitting should be fine but the pitching will be a question mark” jazz from the spring.

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 0: The Jays’ fifth straight victory. If you weight the wins to account for the fact that three of them came against Cleveland, however, it comes out to 2.2 victories. Dana Eveland — who I continue to maintain is really the name of a second-tier actress from the old studio system days — three seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits.

Red Sox 11, Angels 6: Dear God, the Angels are playing some craptacular baseball lately. Scott Kazmir was terrible and his relief was not much better. Daisuke Matsuzaka walked three and allowed four runs in the
first inning, but after that he settled down. Victor Martinez homered and drove in four.  That’s, like, a gabillion straight losses for the Angels.

Rays 8, Mariners 0: I don’t outsource my recaps very often, but in this case I’ll make an exception. Here’s Dave Cameron of U.S.S. Mariner on last night’s game (“Hyphen” is M’s starter Ryan Rowland-Smith]: “You don’t need a recap of that. Hyphen sucked, the offense sucked, the
defense sucked, Snell sucked, and the weather sucked. So, why should
the recap be any different? They get the recap they deserve. When they
play like a major league team, they’ll get written up like one. Until
then, they get this.”  But seriously, Dave: don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel.

Video: Jared Hoying gets shaken up after making a catch at the wall

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Rangers’ center fielder Jared Hoying put everything on the line to make a spectacular catch at the wall on Saturday, saving a run during the team’s eventual 3-1 loss to the Blue Jays. In the fifth inning, Kevin Pillar crushed a ball off of Yu Darvish, sending it 393 feet to the warning track in center field. It took Hoying 5.4 seconds to reach the ball, gloving it just before he crashed into the wall at full speed.

The center fielder was down on the field for several seconds and looked to be in considerable pain, drawing the attention of the Rangers’ training staff while he caught his breath. Postgame reports revealed that Hoying had not sustained any major or minor injuries during the crash, but simply needed time to recover after having the wind knocked out of him. He stayed in the game through the seventh inning and was able to field another two fly balls with little trouble, neither of them quite as dramatic as Pillar’s attempted hit off the wall.

With the loss, the Rangers now sit 9.5 games back of the division lead.

Former U.S. Senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning dies at age 85

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Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher and former U.S. Senator, died on Friday at age 85. He suffered a stroke in October 2016 and was in hospice care when he died, according to former Senate chief of staff Jon Deuser.

Bunning rose to prominence in Major League Baseball during his first full season with the Tigers in 1957, recording 14 complete games and a league-leading 20 wins. The following year, Bunning pitched his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox, just the fourth no-hitter in franchise history. During his first season with the Phillies in 1964, Bunning followed up his no-hitter with a perfect game against the Mets, marking the first National League perfecto in the 20th century. By the time he retired in 1971, he boasted seven All-Star nominations, 2,855 strikeouts (maintaining his second-place ranking on the all-time strikeout list from 1967-1971) and a 224-184 record over 17 seasons.

Following a storied major league career, Bunning entered politics at age 46, serving 12 years in the House and eventually getting elected to the Senate at age 67, where he served two terms. The Republican senator was famously outspoken for his opposition to steroids in baseball, illegal immigration and an extension of unemployment benefits, among other issues, and drew criticism within his party for his ornery nature and controversial statements. He declined to run for a third term in 2010, citing a lack of financial support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and choosing instead to throw his weight behind fellow candidate Rand Paul.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement following news of Bunning’s death on Saturday:

Jim Bunning led an extraordinary life in the National Pastime and in public service.  He was a consistent winner and workhorse pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Jim threw no-hitters in both leagues, pitched a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964 and, at his retirement, had more strikeouts than any pitcher in history except Walter Johnson.

“In his baseball career, Jim was proud of always taking the ball.  The work ethic that made him a Hall of Famer led him to the House of Representatives and the United Stated Senate.  He served the state of Kentucky for more than two decades and became the only Hall of Famer ever to serve in Congress.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Senator Bunning’s family, friends, constituents and the many fans who admired his career in our game.