And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Justin Upton with the walkoff homer, served up by Santiago Casilla in the 10th. It was Upton’s first game-ending homer ever. He also had a single and a double on the day, but remember, don’t you dare say that he was a triple short of the cycle, because that’s just dumb, man.

Nationals 7, Cardinals 4: Upton wasn’t the only one walking off in the 10th inning:  Danny Espinosa with the three-run walkoff jack. Anyone think St. Louis is gonna look back at this series in September and say “man, how did the Nats give us so much crap?”

Phillies 3, Marlins 0: A three-hitter for Cliff Lee. He also drove in the only run that the Phillies would end up needing. So yeah, I guess he’ll stick at this level.

Braves 9, Mets 8: Atlanta wins on a walkoff balk in the 10th. Sad: the Braves still have a celebration at the plate as if it were a bases loaded double. Sadder still: that, given how crappy their offense has been, the celebration was sorta justified.

Cubs 12, Brewers 7: Fukodome had a huge day and Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena also went deep. Which is sort of like what most Cubs games would have been like if all of the huge money gambles on veterans Jim Hendry has made over the years had always paid off on the upside. A train wreck of a day for Zack Greinke (5.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 10K).

Athletics 8, Royals 4: This has nothing to do with this game, but APBA Guy will be along in the comments soon to recap it better than me anyway:  a shallow entertainment gossip website I like to go to sometimes summed up the “Moneyball” trailer that has been floating around thusly: “So this movie tells the story of how the worlds most boring sport added math to create a system that doesn’t work. Holy sh*t, can I go stand in line now?”  I ain’t gonna lie: I lol’d.

Pirates 5, Astros 4: Everyone gets well in Houston. That’s four straight wins for Pittsburgh. A three-run homer for Garrett Jones. Andrew McCutchen’s hitting streak ended in this one despite the fact that he had a single. Weird, I know.

Twins 1, White Sox 0: Combine Mark Buehrle on his game with the White Sox not hitting themselves, and you’re going to get a short game. This one: 2:09, and the Twins on top thanks to eight shutout innings by Nick Blackburn. A Michael Cuddyer homer was the only offensive noise here.

Yankees 3, Rangers 2: The Rangers get swept for the first time all year. The hero of the day for New York: Brian Gordon, a 32-year-old who, until a couple of days ago, was in the Phillies organization and who was making just his fourth ever major league appearance. The previous three were for Texas back in 2008, but in this one he gave the Yankees a solid spot start, allowing two runs in five and a third. Nice story. Too bad it will be beat into the ground today by the overzealous New York press like it’s their very own Jim Morris thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a nice story.

Tigers 6, Indians 2: Detroit takes two of three from the Indians, have won 13 of 18 total, and now have first place to themselves. Jim Leyland: “We’ve got a little something going, but it’s such a long grind. I don’t get carried away.”  Actually, he gets carried away a lot, but he’s just deciding not to in this instance, which is kind of cute.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Guthrie pitched well but strained his back, left early and got a no-decision, so that’s kind of a bummer.

Red Sox 4, Rays 2: Eleven wins in twelve games. A road trip on which they go 8-1.  The Red Sox are in juggernaut territory.

And now a brief programming note: Beyond the recaps I won’t be blogging today (my HBT companions will be, of course).  Why am I out?  Because the missus and I are taking a three-day romantic getaway. Where? Bourbon country. And yes, the bourbon is the object of the romance and the entire point of the trip. Take that, wine country fancy pantses.

Do what you love in life, people. It’s the key to happiness.

See you Monday.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

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The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.