And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 3, Braves 1: If, before last night, you said “on Monday the Braves are going to start a minor league swingman who has never thrown a pitch in the bigs against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park and Philly will only score three runs,” I would have been fairly shocked and ultimately pleased, as far as it goes. But it could have been Greg Maddux v.1995 and it wouldn’t have made a difference because the Braves bats were just terrible. Not to take anything away from Cole Hamels, who was excellent, but Atlanta had its chances, but just hit into double plays and stranded guys and made bad errors and that’s pretty much the story of the last month.

By the way, I was amused at all of the “LoL! Braves suck!” sentiment from Philly fans on Twitter last night. Yes, my friends; the two-time defending National League Champions hung three whole runs on something called “Brandon Beachy” and the second string of the Braves bullpen. Clearly, your rooting interest was fearsome in its triumph. But hey, at least you Philly people have your own version of The Gimp.

Yankees 8, Rays 6: Curtis Granderson hit two homers, but each time the ball was devoured by the giant, insatiable head of the horrible, mammoth Steinbrenner Monument, which — due to its sheer mass — violated multiple laws of thermodynamics, came to life and sought something on which to feed. Just looking at it I can hear that “Xanadu: the costliest monument a man has built to himself!” voice-over running though my head over and over.

Marlins 4, Cardinals 0: Chris Volstad with the five-hit shutout. All the scoring came on a Brad Davis grand slam in the second. This one only lasted one hour and fifty-two minutes, allowing those in attendance to catch the whole game and still make it to the early bird special to steal Sweet N Low packets or whatever it is people who like to eat dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon to save a couple of bucks do in Florida.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 2: When Daisuke Matsuzaka dies, they’ll reprint a box score like this one instead of writing an actual obituary, because it pretty much captures his entire essence as a pitcher (6.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 BB, 4K, 109 pitches). I got simultaneously bored and annoyed just reading that which, again, captures the essence of Dice-K.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Yuniesky Betancourt was 4 for 4 with a homer and three RBI in a losing cause, blah, blah, blah . . . I’m more interested in the game story notes: “Brandon Inge’s two strikeouts gave him 1,094 in his career, leaving him five short of Lou Whitaker’s franchise record.”  Lou Whitaker? Really? I know he had longevity on his side but I would have guessed Willie Horton first and then maybe Norm Cash. Seems that they’re fifth and third, respectively, with Al Kaline coming in fourth. Never would have guessed Inge to even be top ten. Then again, if you had asked me before I looked, I never would have said that he’s played for the Tigers since 2001. Someone, please: where in the hell did the last decade go?

Astros 8, Nationals 2: The smallest crowd in the Nats brief history paid to watch the hometown nine throw/drop the ball all over the field, allowing four unearned runs to score in the fifth.

Twins 9, Indians 3: Danny Valencia hit his third homer in the last four games, this one an upper deck shot. But by far the coolest thing going for the Twins last night was that people were sending around this link to this week’s Sports Illustrated cover. I’m not a Twins fan by damn sight and it got me goin’. I’m guessing Aaron will have to take the day off to recover.

Reds 5, Brewers 2: Back-to-back homers by Votto and Rolen break a 2-2 tie and put the Reds back up by seven games. Zee magic number, she is six.

Athletics 3, White Sox 0: That’s seven straight losses for Chicago who, if I let my imagination run wild, I envision all working together to get their manager that job down in Miami that he seems to want. And hey: Boof Bonser sighting: he pitched the seventh and picked up the win, his first in over two years.

Angels 7, Rangers 4: David Murphy went 5 for 5, but it wasn’t enough as the Angels finally gave Jered Weaver some run support. The Rangers can’t clinch in this series, but they can when they move on to Oakland next.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.