And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Diamondbacks 14, Mets 1: I was tempted to say that Adam LaRoche’s two three-run home runs yesterday are just the latest example of second-half greatness from a great second-half player, but check out his month-by-month OPSeseses: April: .953; May: .787; June: .698; July: .669. Contrary to his reputation, he’s gotten worse as the season has gone on. I wonder if those bombs are the opening salvo to a furious August and September to salvage that reputation.  Jerry Manuel on the Mets’ performance: “We didn’t pitch, we didn’t hit, we didn’t play defense.”

Rays 3, Yankees 0:
That’s eight of nine for the Rays, who pull to within one of the
Bombers. Joe Girardi felt obligated to use all of his shiny new toys —
Kearns! Berkman! Wood! — while giving A-Rod and Brett Gardner the day
off.  Made the box score look all Central Divisiony to me.

Reds 2, Braves 1: Some shaky defense and tons and tons of stranded runners by the Braves wastes an excellent performance by Tommy Hanson. Both Reds runs were the result of Braves’ defensive miscues: if Jason Heyward didn’t try to make a diving catch on Brandon Phillips’ triple it would have at best been a double with no run scoring, and of course, Alex Gonzalez’ error gave the Reds their second run. I’d rather they just get beat 14-1. When that happens I just let the game fall out of my head. These coulda-shoulda-woulda games stick with me all damn afternoon.

Phillies 6, Nationals 4: Philly had to come from behind and then get two RBI singles in the 11th to avoid a sweep by the Nats. Charlie Manuel had no problem giving Brad Lidge the ball to close this one despite him giving up the walkoff homer on Saturday night. Ryan Howard sprained his ankle in the first inning and was hobbling around the clubhouse in crutches after the game. For as bad as the Braves have been playing lately, if Lidge keeps closing and key players keep getting hurt for Philly, you have to like Atlanta’s chances.

Angels 4, Rangers 1: Jered Weaver and Cliff Lee are probably the two best starters in the AL this year. The former outpitched the latter yesterday. The Angels are still way back, but taking two of three from Texas may be the start of something, right?

Padres 5, Marlins 4: Josh Johnson has his worst start of the year, giving up five earned runs. Indeed, it was the first time he had given up more than three since his first start back on April 5th.  Ryan Ludwick gets a pinch hit and comes around to score in his Padre debut.

Rockies 8, Cubs 7: The Rockies are a streaky bunch. They take their fourth in a row after that big losing skid coming out of the break. Dexter Fowler saved the game with this awesome catch in the ninth, but he probably bought himself some time on the DL too. Way to take one for the team, Dex. Bad day medically all around, as Cubs’ starter Carlos Silva left the game in the first with an irregular heartbeat.

Cardinals 9, Pirates 1: I know it’s statistically impossible, but it at least seems like every single time Adam Wainwright pitches his line looks like this: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 5K.

Twins 4, Mariners 0: Francisco Liriano struck out 11 and gave up only two hits. The M’s have lost seven in a row, three of which have been shutouts. Just terrible, terrible baseball. Who gets fired first: Wakamatsu or Manuel?

Astros 5, Brewers 2: See, all the Astros needed to do in order to go on a tear was trade away their best pitcher and best hitter. Seems obvious in hindsight. A pinch hit grand slam in the seventh by Jason Michaels was the big blast here.

Royals 5, Orioles 4: Bruce Chen was in a hell of a jam in the sixth — bases loaded, no one out — but reliever Kanekoa Texeira bailed him out. Texeira after the game: “I told Bruce today, ‘Big guy, I got your back. Bruce, don’t worry.” Amazing. No, not Texeira’s foresight, but rather that was the first time in his 33 years on Earth that anyone has ever called Bruce Chen “big guy.” By the way: anyone know what ever happened to Jung Bong?

White Sox 4, Athletics 1: A complete game with 11 strikeouts for Gio Gonzalez, but it was not enough on a day when Gavin Floyd had a perfect game into the sixth inning. Dude’s been on fire for basically two months and the Chisox simply don’t lose at home anymore.  Speaking of New Comiskey: I was chatting with my HBT Daily/Extra cohort Tiffany the other day, who just got back from a trip to Chicago. She contends that a day at Comiskey is way better than a day at Wrigley. I’ve not been there, but based on her and others’ descriptions — and based on my own experiences at Wrigley — I think I can see that. I bet that, rooting interests notwithstanding, serious Chicago baseball fans would make a strong case for the South Side simply because you don’t have all of that party atmosphere baloney going on down there. Thoughts?

Red Sox 4, Tigers 3: Nice vulture job by Papelbon, as he blows the save in the ninth yet was the pitcher of record when the Tigers threw the ball away to allow the winning run score on a bunt single in the bottom of the ninth. I wonder if some day Clay Buchholz will have 288 wins or something and some baseball writer will keep him off his Hall of Fame ballot because he “just didn’t know how to win.”

Indians 5, Blue Jays 4: If Cleveland could play Toronto 162 games a year they’d be, like, the best team ever. They’ve taken six of seven from the Jays, this one on the strength of a two-run homer from Asdrubal Cabrera.

Giants 2, Dodgers 0:
Matt Cain threw shutout ball into the eighth, and both Giants runs came
in on an Edgar Renteria triple in the sixth. I usually watch a good bit
of the Sunday night game if not all of it, but I randomly picked up
“Ball Four” last night and started thumbing through it. By the time I
looked up I realized that the damn game was most of the way over.
I certainly consider it time well spent, however.

Astros’ bullpen throws combined one-hitter for MLB-best 30th win

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The Astros’ bullpen did yeoman’s work in place of the injured Dallas Keuchel on Monday against the Tigers. Keuchel is temporarily sidelined with a pinched nerve in his neck.

Brad Peacock made the spot start, limiting the Tigers to one hit and two walks with eight strikeouts over 4 1/3 innings. Chris Devenski took over with one out in the fifth, finishing out that inning as well as the sixth and seventh, facing the minimum. Will Harris pitched a perfect eighth and Ken Giles closed out the 1-0 victory in the ninth. Devenski, Harris, and Giles each had two strikeouts.

The Astros scored their only run in the bottom of the first inning as George Springer drew a leadoff walk, then scored on Jose Altuve‘s one-out double. Tigers starter Brad Fulmer pitched well enough to win on most days, giving up the lone run in seven frames.

After Monday’s win, the Astros became the first team to reach 30 wins, sitting on a 30-15 record. With a +55 run differential, even their expected record matches up with their actual record.

Brandon Phillips hit his 200th career home run

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Braves second baseman Brandon Phillips became the 337th player in baseball history to hit 200 career home runs, driving a solo home run to left-center field during Monday night’s home game against the Pirates. Phillips is the 14th second baseman (who played a min. of 75 percent of his career games at the position) to rack up at least 200 career home runs.

Phillips, 35, entered Monday’s action batting .290/.345/.405 with two home runs and 12 RBI in 142 plate appearances. If he’s anything, he’s consistent, as he finished with an adjusted OPS between 90-99 (100 is average) every year between 2012-16 and it was sitting at 97 coming into Monday.