And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 4, Pirates 2: All Brooks Conrad does is hit pinch-hit game-winning homers. Well, that and play soul-killing defense and occupy a roster spot that gives his team minimal flexibility despite having a number of injuries which scream out for a super utility player who can handle both outfield and the infield corners. But hey, I’ll accept that latter stuff if it means a couple of pinch-hit game-winning homers every year!

Phillies 5, Reds 4:  So wild, crazy and long that a little blurb doesn’t do it justice, so check out our longer writeup here.  At this point, the biggest takeaway from all of this is “Hey! Someone finally found a use for Wilson Valdez!” Dude just knows how to win (1-0, 0.00 ERA).  And the best part: after a six-hour game that ended at 1:19 AM, these two teams get together today at 1:05!  Cliff Lee and Homer Bailey: be prepared to go long today.

Marlins 7, Giants 6: The loss of the game is bad but it pales compared to the loss of Buster Posey to a leg injury in the 12th inning. The play looked clean as far as those sorts of plays go, but it was awful all the same. Posey being gone for an extended period is absolutely the last thing the Giants need.

Red Sox 14, Indians 2: No team that has eveh started 2-10 has evah won teh Wurld Seriez!!!11one11!  Know why? Because most teams that start off poorly are actually bad teams. The Red Sox are a good team that just so happened to start poorly, and now they’re not playing poorly anymore.  The past, it seems, does not control the future. There is something besides destiny determining how events unfold. How liberating.

Padres 3, Cardinals 1: Mat Latos, who looked deader than vaudeville earlier this spring, turns in his best start of the year thus far, giving up one run on six hits over eight innings while striking out seven. This one just screamed getaway day: it lasted two hours and four minutes, with both Cardinals and Padres pitchers throwing a total of 105 pitches.

Brewers 6, Nationals 4: I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. Short version: Zack Greinke hit this one up yesterday afternoon.

Astros 2, Dodgers 1: J.R. Towles wins it with an RBI single in the ninth. The back of that Dodgers bullpen? Needs more Rubby.

Rangers 2, White Sox 1: C.J. Wilson was effective and Neftali Feliz bent but did not break in the ninth, giving the Rangers their third win in four games. There were no evacuations.

Mariners 3, Twins 0: And with that, the Twins’ offense becomes more firmly entrenched as the worst in the American League. They still need to be wary of a challenge from Oakland and even these Mariners, but seeing them step up strong like this yesterday gives me full confidence in their ability to be the worst. But just so we’re clear: Thome: that “reaching base twice in four plate appearances” stuff is you not being a team player, get me?

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3: Two homers for Andruw Jones in Yankee Stadium. John Smoltz gets the win. Greg McMichael, Denny Neagle, Terrell Wade and Brad Clontz combine to close it out. Tomorrow: Greg Maddux vs. Jimmy Key.

Orioles 9, Royals 2: One gets the sense that the wheels have done come off the Kansas City bandwagon. That’s nine of the last 11 in the loss column thanks to this fourth inning implosion in which Luke Hochevar gave up eight runs yet still survived it to pitch on because, you know, you go with what you know and who else is more used to giving up eight runs than Luke Hochevar?  Adam Jones had two hits and two RBI that inning.

Mets 7, Cubs 4: The Cubs had a 4-1 lead in the second when things started skidding sideways. RBI from Josh Thole and Carlos Beltran tied it up against Casey Coleman, so Mike Quade went to Jason Berg, who threw twelve consecutive balls, walking in two runs.  New York tacked on one more with a sac fly in the fifth before the rains came — well, got worse — and they called this one early. Which Mike Quade wasn’t happy about, but hey, the game was official and no one had to refund anyone any money so whose to complain? I mean, other than Quade, the Cubs players and everyone else. Dreadful weather, though.

Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 1: Ian Kennedy was once again strong, allowing one run on seven hits over eight innings. I saw some people tweeting last night about how the Dbacks stole four bases, but none of those steals led to runs so who cares?

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back homers in the fourth, and that’s about all the offense you need against this A’s team right now.

Rays vs. Tigers: POSTPONED:  It was a dark and stormy night. Oh, wait. That was daytime. Wow. Scary. I can see why they decided to scuttle this one.

Former U.S. Senator and Hall of Fame pitcher Jim Bunning dies at age 85

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Jim Bunning, Hall of Fame right-handed pitcher and former U.S. Senator, died on Friday at age 85. He suffered a stroke in October 2016 and was in hospice care when he died, according to former Senate chief of staff Jon Deuser.

Bunning rose to prominence in Major League Baseball during his first full season with the Tigers in 1957, recording 14 complete games and a league-leading 20 wins. The following year, Bunning pitched his first career no-hitter against the Red Sox, just the fourth no-hitter in franchise history. During his first season with the Phillies in 1964, Bunning followed up his no-hitter with a perfect game against the Mets, marking the first National League perfecto in the 20th century. By the time he retired in 1971, he boasted seven All-Star nominations, 2,855 strikeouts (maintaining his second-place ranking on the all-time strikeout list from 1967-1971) and a 224-184 record over 17 seasons.

Following a storied major league career, Bunning entered politics at age 46, serving 12 years in the House and eventually getting elected to the Senate at age 67, where he served two terms. The Republican senator was famously outspoken for his opposition to steroids in baseball, illegal immigration and an extension of unemployment benefits, among other issues, and drew criticism within his party for his ornery nature and controversial statements. He declined to run for a third term in 2010, citing a lack of financial support from the National Republican Senatorial Committee and choosing instead to throw his weight behind fellow candidate Rand Paul.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement following news of Bunning’s death on Saturday:

Jim Bunning led an extraordinary life in the National Pastime and in public service.  He was a consistent winner and workhorse pitcher for the Detroit Tigers and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Jim threw no-hitters in both leagues, pitched a perfect game on Father’s Day in 1964 and, at his retirement, had more strikeouts than any pitcher in history except Walter Johnson.

“In his baseball career, Jim was proud of always taking the ball.  The work ethic that made him a Hall of Famer led him to the House of Representatives and the United Stated Senate.  He served the state of Kentucky for more than two decades and became the only Hall of Famer ever to serve in Congress.

“On behalf of Major League Baseball, I send my deepest condolences to Senator Bunning’s family, friends, constituents and the many fans who admired his career in our game.

Homer Simpson was inducted in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Twenty-five years ago, “Homer at the Bat” became one of the most iconic Simpsons episodes of all time. Legendary talents like Roger Clemens, Wade Boggs, Ozzie Smith, Jose Canseco, Mike Scioscia, Steve Sax, Don Mattingly and Ken Griffey, Jr. lent their talents to the episode while their cartoon doppelgängers were put through the ringer, leaving only Homer Simpson and Darryl Strawberry to clinch the city softball championship for the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant squad. On Saturday, the show’s creators were recognized when Homer Simpson was awarded a long-overdue membership in the Hall of Fame.

The full text from Homer’s honorary plaque is below:

Inept safety inspector turned city-wide softball hero. Right fielder led Springfield nuclear plant to city championship game, then sacrificed his body to win it all. Nearly supplanted by lineup of all-world superstar ringers, came through in a pinch — and came to in time for the next episode. Girthy right-handed hitter powered many a mighty wallop during celebrated 1992 season with “Wonderbat” — his secret weapon. Lack of mobility in the field was no match for moves atop the dugout. Found fame as bush league mascot phenom, parlaying his “elephant walk” into a taste of the majors. Unacquainted with scientific concepts, only isotopes of which he was aware played at Duff Stadium, where uncanny knowledge of southwestern palate exposed team’s impending move to Albuquerque.

“Homer at the Bat” will be enshrined in Cooperstown with a special display, featuring the plaque alongside some of the more memorable moments of the episode.