And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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It’s gonna take me a few hours to get back up to speed after a week off, so bear with me.  Can’t wait to fire up my DVR and check out those couple of Stephen Strasburg starts I missed! That kid is fantastic!

Braves 7, Marlins 6: If you thought that after a week off I wasn’t going to come back leading with a Brian McCann walkoff jack to bring the Braves back from a 6-1 eighth inning deficit then you’re just not familiar with my work.

Phillies 5, Padres 0: Swept by the Astros at home, sweep the Padres at home. I dunno man, you figure the Phillies out.

Brewers 8, Pirates 4: The Brewers have so thoroughly owned the Pirates at Miller Park the past couple of years (28-2) that they’re considering taking out an equity loan on their asses and adding a deck. Or maybe a gazebo. Save number 599 for Trevor Hoffman. I hope he gets to an even 600 and shuts himself down for good so he can (a) have a nice round number next to his name in the books; and (b) end his career with a fist pump and a high five from his catcher after closing one out, because that’s the only way it should be.

Mariners 2, Twins 1: Nice outing for Carl Pavano, but as people have been saying for years, there’s just not a hell of a lot you can do when you’re facing Luke French (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). Well, I’m guessing someone said that once or twice. Like, his mom or his Legion coach or someone like that.

Nationals 4, Cardinals 2: The Cards are 2-5 in their last seven. Those seven were against Washington and Pittsburgh. Gettin’ your butt handed to you by last place teams is no way to win the NL Central, son.

Reds 7, Cubs 5: The Reds take advantage of the Cardinals’ loss, extending their division lead to five games. They’re now 11-4 since getting swept by the Cardinals at home. The lesson: trash talking and kicking dudes in the face = victory.

Rockies 10, Dodgers 5: For the first time in six starts since coming over to L.A. in the trade, Ted Lilly loses. In fact, he gets pummeled (4 IP, 9 H, 7 ER). Three of those seven runs came on a pair of Carlos Gonzalez bombs.

Orioles 1, Angels 0: The O’s took all six this year from the defending AL West champs. And this series was your basic flogging: the Angels scored one run on Friday night and were shut out both yesterday and Saturday night. The O’s will finish the month with a winning record and, in fact, will have the best August of any AL East team. Sadly, however, the Yankees’ and Ray’s victories yesterday eliminated them from playoff contention.

Athletics 8, Rangers 2: The A’s take two of three to pull within seven and a half of Texas. Doesn’t seem very doable for Oakland, especially with only one series left between these guys. Not impossible, I guess. In 2002 the A’s were down four and a half at the beginning of that 20-game win streak and found themselves up three and a half when they lost their next game. Now, if Oakland can find that extra run or so a game that 2002 team had over the 2010 team, they’ll be in business.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 7: San Francisco avoids the sweep at the hands of Arizona. They did their best to lose it, though. Adam LaRoche hit a two-run RBI double to right in the seventh inning. The time it took Jose Guillen to get to that ball is best measured in epochs. Guillen got the two runs back on his own RBI single, but really, no team that considers itself a contender should be playing that guy in right every day.

Yankees 2, White Sox 1: Frank Thomas Day, as The Big Hurt gets his number retired. The Sox could have used him in the lineup, though, as Ivan Nova allowed one run and five hits and struck out seven.

Tigers 10, Blue Jays 4: Dave Stieb Day, as the Blue Jays honor Sir David. The Jays could have used him the rotation, though, as Ryan Raburn hit two homers and the Tigers rattled off 12 hits. By the way, Dave Stieb was better than Jack Morris, and no one ever goes all crazy making his Hall of Fame case.

Royals 6, Indians 2: You can’t stop Bruce Chen and Kila Ka’aihue, you can only hope to contain them.

Mets 5, Astros 1: As of 7:30 P.M. last night, the little AP game story headline was “Dickey Handcuffs Astros.”  Heh heh, “Dickey handcuffs.”  Heh heh heh heh.

Rays 5, Red Sox 3: The season is growing short for Boston. Um, wait, that’s kind of an oxymoron. But you know what I mean. They’re 6.5 back. Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford hit dingers off John Lackey.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.

Video: Mookie Betts made a ridiculous throw last night

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 10.16.51 AM
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Mookie Betts was an infielder once upon a time and the knock on him both then and since his move to the outfield was that maybe his arm was not fantastic. As an infielder there was talk that he was better suited to the right side than the left. As an outfielder people were saying that, with work, his arm could be average and/or serviceable. Not bad, of course, but not anything to write home about.

Maybe we need to reassess that, because last night he uncorked one from right field that would make Dwight Evans says “dang, man.”

 

And the throw mattered, as Kiermaier represented the tying run in a game that, at the time, the Sox were leading 2-1.

Betts is a dangerous middle-of-the-order bat at age 23. And now he shows that he’ll nail a fast runner with a frozen rope if he has to. The guy is going to win an MVP award some day. And maybe not just one.