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.”

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.