And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 3, Red Sox 2: There are certain games in which teams of destiny define themselves. I’m not saying the Indians are that kind of team — hell, I’m just as confused as the rest of you and thus will make no claim to being on the bandwagon earlier than anyone — but if they do turn out to be that kind of team, this game will be featured prominently in the highlight DVD at the end of the year. As lightning flashed and thunder crashed just west of the ballpark, the Indians came from behind in the eighth inning thanks to a Michael Brantley RBI single and then an RBI double by that man, Asdrubal Cabrera, scoring Brantley. Chris Perez allowed two base runners in the 9th but induced a Carl Crawford GIDP to end it.

Astros 4, Dodgers 3: Some comebacks may be season-of-destiny-defining, but just because your season isn’t destined for anything special doesn’t mean that a comeback can’t simply be fun. Bill Hall was 4 for 4 with two doubles, but it was his single in the bottom of the ninth that helped key the Astros’ comeback from a 3-1 deficit when they were down to their last out. That and a little double steal action that put Hall at third and pinch hitter Angel Sanchez at second to score on Michael Bourn’s game-tying double.  Two batters later Hunter Pence singled Bourn in for the game-winner.

Brewers 11, Nationals 3: Corey Hart blasts three homers and drives in seven. Coming in to this game he was batting .237/.275/.329 with no homers and a single RBI.

Phillies 10, Reds 3: Chase Utley returns and with him comes the offense. Of course correlation is not the same thing as causation so don’t read too deeply into his 0 for 5 night. Placido Polanco, Raul Ibanez and John Mayberry Jr. each had a couple of RBI, however, and that made for Philly’s biggest offensive night since, like, ever.

Tigers 6, Rays 3: Close until the eighth when the Tigers strung together two two-run hits off Juan Cruz. Tigers starter Phil Coke left the game in the top of the fourth after injuring his ankle whilst chasing a bunt. He was replaced by rookie lefty Charlie Furbush, who picked up the win in his major league debut. In other news, there is a pitcher named Charlie Furbush.

Mariners 8, Twins 7: Good thing the Twins traded top prospect Wilson Ramos for Proven Closer Matt Capps last year, because there is no way that Jon Rauch or someone else who has not gone on the Proven Closer Vision Quest and had the secrets of the Proven Closer Elders handed down to them could have blown that save in the ninth last night.

Rangers 4, White Sox 0: Josh Hamilton returns with a bang, homering in the first inning of his first game since April 12th. Meanwhile, Alexi Ogando’s post-blister problem run continues nicely, as he takes his third straight decision in what was his best start of the year so far (CG, SHO 5 H).

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 3: Bartolo Colon follows his best start of the year up with his worst. Well, his second worst, but it looks bad compared to that gem against Baltimore last week.  Carlos Villanueva filled in for Jesse Litsch nicely, allowing one run on two hits over five innings. J.P. Arencibia had four RBI and Jose Bautista hit a homer.

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter was the hero in the field and at the plate, nailing Andy LaRoche as he tried to score in the seventh and driving in the go-ahead run with a double in the eighth. On a night when some teams who had not been scoring runs lately broke out with some nice offense, the Athletics remain in the offensive desert.

Cardinals 3, Padres 1: At least the A’s have some company in the offensive desert, as San Diego continues to treat run scoring as if it were radioactive or something. And hey, Albert Pujols hit a homer!

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.