And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Cubs 1, Padres 0: It’s not the end, but it certainly is the beginning of the end for the Padres. They need to sweep the Giants to force a playoff for the NL West. They need to sweep the Giants and hope that the Braves lose 2 of 3 in order to get the Wild Card (or, I guess, take two of three from the Giants and hope the Braves get swept). Given that they can’t score a run to save their damn lives, however, neither scenario seems possible. Close — oh so close — but no cigar, it would seem, for the 2010 San Diego Padres.

Giants 4, Diamondbacks 1: San Francisco clinches no worse than a tie for the West, thanks to a Buster Posey blast. I still think Heyward would be my choice — and I say that objectively, not as a fan boy — but Posey may have won the Rookie of the Year Award for himself with that homer.

Royals 3, Rays 2: There’s a decent chance that this was Zack Greinke’s last start as a Royal. If so, it was a good one (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 9K).

Cardinals 6, Rockies 1: A four-hitter for Chris Carpenter busts him out of a terrible slump. The Rockies’ season-ending skid has been sad to watch. Maybe not as sad as, oh, Glenn Danzig wearing his own band’s shirt while carrying kitty litter, but pretty sad.

Marlins 11, Pirates 9: The Feesh had a 10-2 lead night to start the seventh inning, thanks in part to Mike Stanton’s five RBI night. The Pirates fought back, with Pedro Alvarez leading the charge with five RBIs of his own. It wasn’t enough, though, as Florida held on.

Rangers 3, Angels 2: Cliff Lee is ready for the playoffs (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K). His bullpen may not be — the save, she was blown, giving Lee a no-decision — but this all about tuning up right now for the Rangers. Josh Hamilton is supposed to be back tonight. Whether he can swing a bat is, by far, the most important question facing this team.

Brewers 9, Mets 2: Aw, darn. That loss ensures that the Mets will have a losing season. And here I had such hope.  I am sort of rooting for a Mets sweep of the Nats this weekend, though, because Ken Davidoff of Newsday predicted that they’d go 80-82 this season, and I love it when improbable, shot-in-the-dark predictions like that come true.

Reds 9, Astros 4: Bronson Arroyo wins his 17th as the Reds trounce the Astros. Jonny Gomes, Drew Stubbs and Brandon Phillips all homered. I don’t know if any NL team can beat Philly in the playoffs, but I like the Reds’ chances better than the Braves or the Giants. They have some bats there at least.

Blue Jays 13, Twins 2: A bloodbath for Minnesota, as they gave up two homers to Juan Jose Bautista [sue me, I was sleepy] — one an absolute monster shot — and two more to Edwin Encarnacion. Molina and Snider each had one as well.  Three of them came off Francisco Liriano. I’m not saying it’s time to panic yet, Twins fans, but if you do start panicking, no one is going to think you’re crazy.

White Sox 8, Red Sox 2: Paul Konerko hit a grand slam, spoiling Jon Lester’s shot at 20 wins. At one point, late in the game, the power went out, darkening U.S. Cellular Field. Everyone was calm, though, and eventually the lights came back on. If this had happened in the 70s, there would have been chaos and violence and all manner of mayhem. Man, I miss the 70s.

Athletics 8, Mariners 1: Gio Gonzalez beat the M’s to get his 15th win
of the season. Which, based on my reading of national baseball
commentary, makes him a better pitcher than Felix Hernandez.

Tigers vs. Orioles: Postponed: There is not even silence in the mountains, but a dry, sterile thunder without rain.  Wait, that’s not true. It rained a butt-ton yesterday. Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky, for a doubleheader. Till human voices wake us, and we drown. 

The Braves cave, a little anyway, on their outside food policy

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On Friday the Atlanta Braves announced a new policy for outside food, prohibiting ticket holders from bringing in their own. This was a reversal of their old policy — and the policies of the majority of teams around the league — which allowe fans to bring in soft-sided coolers with their own food and beverages, at least as long as the beverages were sealed.

The Braves claimed that the policy change was “a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league,” but this was clearly untrue as no other teams are cracking down on outside food like this. If there are new security procedures, everyone else is able to accommodate them without an opportunistic crackdown on fans bringing in PB&J for their toddlers. It seemed more likely that this was a simple cash grab.

Today the Braves have reversed the policy somewhat:

While they’re looking for kudos here, this is likewise an admission that the “security” stuff was bull because, last I checked, security procedures aren’t subject to popular referendum and aren’t changed when people complain. What really happened here, it seems, is the Braves, for the first time in living memory, were called out by the public for their greed and realized that even they have some responsibility to not be jackasses about this sort of thing.

Still, a gallon bag policy is not the same as it was before. You could bring coolers into Turner Field and still can bring them into most parks around the league. But I guess this is better than nothing.

Donald Trump may throw out the first pitch at the Nationals opener

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It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.