Danny Espinosa, Michael Morse

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 10, Phillies 2: Danny Espinsosa had two homers as the Nats teed off on Cliff Lee. The Cliff Lee with the losing record and and ERA creeping up near 4.00.  Hmmm. Oh, and there was a brief injury delay involving Carlos Ruiz in the bottom of the 8th. After the game Charlie Manuel described it: “He got hit in the crystals. Better him than me.”  God, I love Charlie Manuel.

White Sox 10, Red Sox 7: Chicago had a 10-1 lead heading into the eighth inning when Phil Humber started to unravel. But at some point a lead is too big to fritter away, and this one was unfritterable. Alexi Ramirez was 4 for 5 with 3 RBI. Chicago has won six straight at Fenway.

Pirates 5, Mets 1: Also at some point: you just can’t win games when you don’t have any of your real major leaguers on your active roster. That said, R.A. Dickey pitched pretty well for a guy with a torn plantar fascia. Which, while I’m not entirely sure what it is, it doesn’t sound like something you want to tear.

Brewers 7, Reds 2: In Zack Greinke’s last four starts he has allowed five, four, three and now two earned runs.  His next two opponents had best look out!

Indians 6, Blue Jays 3: Every time I see a Mitch Talbot line score (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) I think of Mitch Hedberg. And yes, I think Bigfoot is blurry. That’s the problem. And that’s extra-scary to me, because there’s a large, out-of-focus monster.

Rays 5, Rangers 4:Arthur Rhodes really has no business facing righties who, coming into this game, were slugging .570 off him. Yet Ron Washington let him face Evan Longoria with a runner on base in the eighth inning. Longoria hit a two-run homer. Imagine.

Cardinals 4, Giants 3: Skip Schumaker’s go-ahead RBI single was the cherry on top of the Cardinals’ three-run eighth inning. In other news, Schumaker’s walk-up music is “The Stroke” by Billy Squier. Stick your right hand out and give that man a firm handshake.

Padres 5, Braves 4: Mike Minor probably deserved a better fate. He left with the game tied and a runner on first in the seventh. Cory Gearrin prompty let him in to score and then allowed the Padres to score two more after that. Ryan Ludwick had four hits.

Tigers 8, Twins 7: The Tigers scored the go-ahead run on a sac fly that wouldn’t have happened if Twins’ reliever Phil Dumatrait hadn’t thrown a bunted ball away. But hey, if there’s a team that is going to shoot themselves in the foot this year, it’s Minnesota. Two homers for Justin Morneau in a losing cause.

Astros 7, Cubs 3: Carlos Marmol got rocked for six runs in the ninth. Needless to say, the save was blown. Marmol faced seven hitters. He only got one out, and that was because the batter willingly surrendered himself with a sacrifice bunt. There are teams that lose more games than the Cubs, but there are not many who lose more ugly than they do.

Royals 7, Angels 3: Eric Hosmer drove in two and scored two and Jeff Francoeur drove in two more. Alex Gordon and Chris Getz both had three hits.

Mariners 3, Orioles 2: Jeremy Guthrie cruised for seven innings and then got two quick outs in the eighth before allowing Ichiro to reach on an error, giving up a single to Brendan Ryan and a three-run homer to Justin Smoak. All of the runs unearned, of course, but all of them are on Guthrie in reality.

Dodgers 8, Rockies 2: Los Angeles continues its recent run-scoring binge. Matt Kemp drove in four and Casey Blake three more.

Marlins 5, Diamondbacks 2: Anibal Sanchez cools off the hot Dbacks, adding a couple of RBI to HHOC.

Yankees 10, Athletics 3: The A’s aren’t exactly giving the Yankees much of a hassle in this series. Mr. Anderson was lit up for ten runs on 11 hits. Curtis Granderson went 3 for 5 with a homer and 4 RBI. A-Rod had three RBI of his own.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.