And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Jon Niese.jpgMets 3, Padres 0: Jon Niese gave up a double to lead off the third. Otherwise: perfect.  Niese said after the game that he didn’t even realize it.  In related news, somewhere Oliver Perez told someone that his knee was feeling better, after which he was beaten with a pillowcase full of soda pop cans to ensure that there is no hope of his return.  Oh, there was a first game of the doubleheader too: Padres 4, Mets 2: Mat Latos outdueled Johan Santana to snap the Mets’ home win streak at nine. Twenty-two Mets went down in order to end the game after Henry Blanco’s home run in the second inning.

Marlins 2, Phillies 0:  Josh Johnson has been incredible lately. Last night he shut out the Phillies on three hits over eight.  He has gone six straight starts giving up either zero or one earned run.  Tough luck loss for Roy Halladay, who was almost as good (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8K).  After the game Charlie Manuel was asked if he thought it was possible that the Phillies would be shut out seven times this early in the season. His response: “In this game there’s a whole lot of crap possible.”  God, I love Charlie.

Brewers 5, Cubs 4: Wow, that last play was something. Craig Counsell laid down a bunt with Carlos Gomez at first. Gomez goes with the pitch and doesn’t stop at second base, mostly because there is no one covering third. The Cubs try to get Counsell, and fail to. By then the catcher had made it down to third base for a play on Gomez. The throw to third is off the mark and Gomez comes in to score.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Jake Arrieta made his major league debut and gave up three runs on four hits over six, collecting his first win. Amazingly, when you adjust that pitching line for the strength of the Pirates’ lineup instead of the Yankees, it translates to 7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 14K.

Indians 8, Red Sox 7: Wild, baby; wild.  The Sox jump out to a 5-0 lead, the Tribe battles back to go ahead 6-5 in the sixth, Adrian Beltre hits a two-run homer in the ninth to put Boston back on top 7-6, and then Cleveland rallies in the bottom of the ninth to win it. Awful loss for the Sox. Their only saving grace is that the whole city was likely watching the Celtics  beat the Lakers.

Braves 11, Diamondbacks 7: On the one hand I feel bad that Tommy Hanson didn’t get the win despite striking out ten guys in 5.1 innings and having left with a 7-2 lead. On the other hand, if he would figure out how to go 5.1 innings without throwing 121 pitches, maybe his record would be less dependent on the ups and downs of his bullpen. Dontrelle Willis only gave up two earned runs, but it was by dumb blind luck that he wasn’t beaten out of the building. He was pretty terrible, with poor control. The only reason he escaped with as little damage as he did was because the Braves stranded runners to beat the band in this series. 47 runners, to be precise. How they did that and split the four games is a testament to how bad the Dbacks’ pen is.

Rangers 12, Mariners 3: Not sure what the question is, but Ryan Rowland-Smith sure as hell ain’t the answer (5.2 IP, 11 H, 8 R, 4 ER). The Rangers put up 33 runs on the M’s in the series.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: Joe Maddon on why he kept Carl Crawford out of the game: “There’s nothing wrong. We just want to get him off his
feet, especially on the turf. He’s always had trouble with
this particular field.” Strange comment given that this was a home game. He plays half his games on that particular field, doesn’t he?

Nationals 4, Pirates 2: There’s no shame in getting dominated by Stephen Strasburg, but getting swept by the Nats is not exactly the Pirates’ finest hour.  Three straight games with a homer for Adam Dunn.

Reds 7, Giants 6: The Giants jumped out to a four-run lead, but the Reds clawed back, capping it with a eighth-inning rally featuring a two-run triple by Brandon Phillips and a Joey Votto single which plated Phillips for what would be the winning run. Dusty Baker after the game: “I don’t know if you expect it, but I know everybody believes, from the
players to the administrative assistants to the grounds crew.”  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard a major league manager give a shoutout to Helen in accounting.

Astros 5, Rockies 4: Roy Oswalt gets back on track after a couple of bumpy starts (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 9K). Puts him squarely back in the “Strasburg trade bait” category, I’m assuming.

Athletics 6, Angels 1: Trevor Cahill allowed one run in eight innings to win his fourth in a row. The A’s did something really rare, too: beat up on Ervin Santana a little bit, who has absolutely owned them.

White Sox 3, Tigers 0: Omar Vizquel hit his annual home run (and bunted in a run on the old suicide squeeze). John Danks gave up a single hit in seven innings.

Royals 9, Twins 8: Hey look! Some of Dayton Moore’s former Braves projects are paying off. Bruce Chen gets the win and is now 3-0 (he’s the mini-Silva) and Wilson Betemit hit two home runs. Not that it was easy. The Royals frittered away much of their 8-1 lead and had to hold on for dear life in the ninth. Let’s let Ron Gardenhire assess the Twins’ performance: “Probably as sloppy as we’ve played in a long time. I don’t remember the last time we had a defensive
ballgame as bad as that one. Baserunning, pretty bad, too.”

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.