And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 9, Giants 6: The Braves should have had this one won in regulation, but Fredi Gonzalez apparently fell asleep while reliever Jairo Ascencio poured kerosene all over the place and lit a match in the seventh inning. Maybe the warmth made Gonzalez’s nap more cozy. I don’t know. All I know is that by the time he woke up and yanked Ascencio, a 5-2 Braves lead had turned into a 6-5 Giants lead. A Dan Uggla homer in the eighth tied it up and then the Braves broke through against Brian Wilson in the 10th, loading the bases with no one out and subsequently plating three. Jason Heyward had a three-run homer. He went 7 for 12 with that homer and four RBI against the Giants over the weekend.

Red Sox 7, Angels 0: A butt whuppin’. Both this game and the whole series. And really the whole west coast swing. I don’t think we need to worry too much about the Red Sox anymore. This was the Red Sox’ first four-game sweep in Anaheim since 1980.

Phillies 3, Padres 1: You’ll see a bad Roy Halladay start on occasion, like the one we saw against Milwaukee last week. Then he’ll mow down the next team he faces. Fourteen strikeouts for Doc. The Padres scored three runs in four games against the Phillies.

Dodgers 7, Cubs 3: I watched most of this one. For all practical purposes it was over in the first inning when the Dodgers pulled the old blitzkrieg on Carlos Zambrano, scoring five runs before I even had the cap off my beer. Lots of sloppy defense too, so it actually worked out well for me inasmuch as I didn’t mind turning it off to go over to my parents’ house for Easter dinner. If it was a good game I had to turn off I would have been all surly over there. Er, surlier.

Mets 8, Diamondbacks 4: Four straight wins for the Mets. This one was occasioned by two David Wright homers. So I guess two things we thought we were sure of the other day — that the Mets suck and that David Wright is getting killed by his home park — aren’t quite as clear as we thought.

Tigers 3, White Sox 0: Before the game Ozzie Guillen tweeted “Let’s be ready to turn this crapp.”  I suppose that’s open for multiple interpretations, but I’m guessing that being shut out for the second day in a row was not what he was aiming for.

Brewers 4, Astros 1: I, for one, welcome our new hawk overlords. The Wolf ones (Randy) are pretty impressive too (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER).

Yankees 6, Orioles 3: Mariano Rivera blew his second save in a week — and Joba Chamberlain had given up a couple of runs before that — but the Yankees broke through in the eleventh on the power of a boatload of infield singles and throwing errors. And you thought that they could only score via the long ball. Well, they got a long ball from Curtis Granderson, but all of the other runs came via ground rather than air forces.

Rangers 8, Royals 7: The Rangers are unimpressed with the precocious Royals, sweeping them the heck out of Arlington. Michael Young and Jeff Francoeur stretch their respective hitting streaks to 14. Alex Gordon stretches his to 18.

Athletics 5, Mariners 2: Oakland salvages one in Seattle behind a strong Brett Anderson outing. Coco Crisp reached base three times and scored on each occasion.

Nationals 6, Pirates 3: Mike Morse had three hits, including a three-run homer. It was his first homer on the year which, given how many he hit last year (15) in so few at bats (266) is a surprise.

Twins 4, Indians 3: Three wins in a row for the Twins, who are starting to show some signs of life.

Marlins 6, Rockies 3: Ubaldo Jimenez gave up only one hit, but unfortunately for him he walked four guys and that one hit was a bases-loaded triple. Colorado came back to tie it late, but Mike Stanton’s three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth sealed it. Oh, and Marlins fans were booing Hanley Ramirez in this one which seems pretty nutso to me.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 0: Wow, what has gotten into James Shields? Back-to-back complete games in which he allowed only four hits. Unlike the last one, though, this was a shutout. All of the game’s scoring was over in the first inning with Ben Zobrist’s two-run homer. The game took two hours and five minutes.

Cardinals 3, Reds 0: When Yadier Molina hit that three-run home run just as the rain was picking up, I was sure it was time for Tony La Russa to activate the microchip he had implanted in the umpiring crew’s brains, causing them to call the game before the Cardinals’ bullpen was summoned to lock it down.  There must have been a malfunction, however, because they played on and the shutout of the Reds was completed. Jake Westbrook had his best start of the year. Edinson Volquez somehow avoided his usual first inning meltdown and looked good himself until the Molina homer. Which came after it looked like Volquez hyper-extended his left knee, by the way, even though Dusty Baker didn’t seem to care about it too much.  Pujols left the game gimpy too.

Joey Votto thinks he can win the Home Run Derby, but hasn’t been invited yet

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Despite having hit at least 20 home runs in eight of his 11 seasons in the majors, Reds first baseman Joey Votto has never participated in a Home Run Derby. Currently, he’s tied for the National League lead in home runs with 20, and he hasn’t been invited to this year’s festivities at Marlins Park.

In the event he is invited, Votto said he thinks he can win it, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto likened himself to Ichiro Suzuki, a player known more for his contact abilities and mastery of the strike zone than power. “Just think of me as the Canadian Ichiro — Japan has theirs and Canada has theirs,” Votto said. “I could pull homers into the seats at will.”

Along with the 20 homers, Votto is currently hitting .306/.419/.601 with 53 RBI, and 52 runs scored in 313 plate appearances.

Teammate Scott Schebler also has 20 home runs at the moment and Adam Duvall, who made it to the semifinals of the Derby last year, has 16. Neither of them have been approached about participating in the Derby, either. Per Rosecrans, in the event each was invited, Duvall said he would consider participating if he wasn’t an All-Star and Schebler would participate regardless. Votto said he would only participate if he made the All-Star team.

There was apparently some miscommunication between Pete Mackanin and Pat Neshek

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The Phillies won their first game since last Thursday, beating the Cardinals 5-1 on Thursday afternoon. Starter Aaron Nola pitched into the eighth inning, but left with one out. Pat Neshek took the mound with a runner on first base and induced an inning-ending double play on a 3-1 count to Tommy Pham.

Given that Neshek only threw five pitches and the Phillies were staked to a four-run lead, it wouldn’t have seemed unreasonable if the sidewinding right-hander came back out to finish the ninth inning as well. But Luis Garcia had that honor, tossing a scoreless final frame to nail down the win in a non-save situation.

After the game, manager Pete Mackanin said he asked Neshek to go back out for the ninth, but Neshek didn’t want to, per Stephen Gross of the Morning Call. Neshek told the media that Mackanin never asked him. There was also a miscommunication on Wednesday. The combination of Joaquin Benoit, Hector Neris, and Edubray Ramos combined to allow four runs in 2 1/3 innings, helping the Phillies lose 7-6. Neshek never appeared. According to Mackanin, Neshek told him that he wasn’t available to pitch. Neshek said he was told he’d have the day off.

The disconnect between Mackanin and Neshek could speak to a larger divide between the manager and his failing team. The Phillies have underwhelmed across the board due to players like Odubel Herrera (whose head was down and did not see Juan Samuel’s stop sign last night in what became a base running blunder), Maikel Franco, Jerad Eickhoff, Vince Velasquez, Aaron Nola (today’s start notwithstanding), and Hector Neris not living up to expectations. The Phillies signed Mackanin to a contract extension last month, but the team has completely fallen apart since then and the latest communications issues certainly don’t reflect well on him. Neither does last night’s travesty of a game.

As for Neshek, he said that going to the Phillies was “the best thing that happened to me in a few years” but also realized, given the state of the team, that it remains very likely he winds up in a new uniform by the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. After Thursday’s performance, Neshek is carrying a 0.63 ERA with a 25/4 K/BB ratio in 28 2/3 innings. He very well could be the Phillies’ lone representative at the All-Star Game in Miami next month. That is, if he’s still wearing their uniform. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Nationals have shown interest in Neshek.