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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Look, I ain’t gonna lie to you. I lost track of baseball for a couple of days. You’ll have that when you visit five distilleries and take in all manner of food, music, and odd, assorted — and a few sordid — people, all in places where the drink menus are longer than most metropolitan telephone directories.

So yes, I still have the recaps from yesterday’s games for you, but since the games didn’t involve charred white oak barrels and nice vanilla/caramel balance at first followed by a nice spicy finish, my mind wandered a bit (a lot) while writing these, so let’s just consider today’s installment a bourbon primer with a baseball chaser, OK?  Thanks for indulging me.

Red Sox 12, Brewers 3: A six run inning — with a Kevin Youkilis three-run bomb — iced this one for Boston before it even got going. Speaking of ice, don’t listen to that whiskey snob you know who says that you should never add ice to your pour. Indeed, most experts will tell you that ice — or a few splashes of water — will bring out some other flavors and aromas in the bourbon that you may not be able to appreciate neat. Just don’t drown it, you know?

Rays 2, Marlins 1: James Shields threw a four-hit complete game with 10Ks. Florida loses its tenth straight, with added disorientation given Edwin Rodriguez’s resignation right before the game. Speaking of disorientation, I found that despite all of the great bourbon I sampled over the weekend, I wasn’t really ever inebriated. There’s always something, be it a well-timed meal or a fairly lengthy drive between destinations — plus the fact that you’re savoring good stuff rather than just glugging down grog — that sort of encourages moderation on this kind of trip. Didn’t really lose a step all weekend, which was not something I expected.

Twins 5, Padres 4: Drew Butera singled in Delmon Young in the bottom of the ninth as the Twins won their seventh straight. Speaking of Old No. 7, Did you know what keeps Jack Daniels from being a bourbon?  It’s dripped through ten feet of packed maple charcoal after the distilling process is over and before it’s put in barrels. And Jack Daniels uses red oak, not white oak.  Subtle differences, but enough to give it a totally different taste profile. I’ve never really cared much for Jack Daniels, and I’m guessing it’s that maple charcoal thing going on.

Reds 2, Blue Jays 1: The Reds had gone 16 innings without scoring, but Miguel Cairo’s two-run homer in the sixth broke that streak and gave the Reds enough offense to win it. The Blue Jays had owned Bronson Arroyo before yesterday, but he made people forget that. Speaking of owning, the world of Kentucky bourbon is a lot more consolidated than you may think, with any given distillery producing both high end stuff and rotgut. It’s so easy with beers and wines to get prejudiced against various producers who make stuff you don’t like, even when they dress it up with fancy labels, but you gotta let that go with bourbon. Don’t like Jim Beam? Hey, don’t drink it, but don’t let your feelings toward it sour you on their high end Bookers. Don’t like Buffalo Trace? Well, get used to the fact that the best stuff I ever buy — Blanton’s — is made by the same people. It doesn’t take a fundamentally different corporate mindset to make a premium product in the world of whiskey. It only takes the will and some time, because it only takes a few tweaks and some extra space in the rick house to make a super fine product, not some massive change in a company’s priorities.

Mariners 2, Phillies 0: Jason Vargas shuts out the Phillies on three hits.  Speaking of three hits, Woodford Reserve prides itself on triple distilling its hooch, which it does in these three awesome and massive copper pot stills. No one else distills three times. They claim that’s what makes their stuff so special. I don’t know enough about all of that to know if it truly makes a big difference. Why wouldn’t anyone else distill three times if that was a game-changer?  It’s great stuff, though, I can’t deny it. Maybe it’s because they easily have the best employee of any distillery. He’s so dedicated he takes all of his meals on site!

White Sox 8, Diamondbacks 2: Paul Konerko homers for the third straight day as the Snakes drop two of three to the White Sox. Speaking of white, did you know that, when they put it in the barrels after distilling, the whisky is totally clear like water? This is known as “white dog,” or as it’s more commonly known, “white lightning.” Or more commonly know than that, “moonshine.” Yes, the only real difference between illegal, redneck moonshine and smooth, refined sippin’ whiskey is the fact that it’s aged in those charred oak barrels, transforming that color and, of course, adding some mellow woody flavors. Some distilleries — notably Heaven Hill — are starting to bottle the white dog and sell it, presumably cutting it just enough to make it legal. I’m not sure who on Earth would want that. I have in-laws in West Virginia who have procured me real moonshine before. It’s horrifyingly bad, no matter what you do with it.  I’m assuming 90% of the bottled white dog will be sold either (a) to dumb kids who want to pretend to be badasses; or (b) ironically.

Dodgers 1, Astros 0: A Dioner Navarro homer was the only scoring of the game. Speaking of thin lines, when they empty a barrel for bottling following the aging process, you can look at the cross section of the barrel staves and see a thin reddish line an inch or two into the wood. That’s how far the bourbon soaks into the wood during aging, slowly seeping in and out as the heat in the rick house changes and the barrels and their contents expand and contrast.

Tigers 9, Rockies 1: The AP game story (and I presume others who watched the game too) said that Justin Verlander didn’t have his best stuff. Yet he still retired 13 of the first 14 batters he faced en route to a complete game, so even his not-so-best stuff is pretty special. Speaking of retired, the retired master distiller of Woodford Reserve has continued to dabble in the business, and his latest creation just came out. It’s called Angel’s Envy, and it’s different than other bourbons in that, after the normal aging, its transferred to port wine barrels for a few months to give it all kinds of weird fruity, chocolatey and other port-esque flavors. I didn’t try any down there, but I bought a bottle because I am intrigued.

Cardinals 5, Royals 4: The win is a win — a walkoff homer by Skip Schumaker — but it’s cold comfort compared to Albert Pujols’ wrist/shoulder injury, the severity and extent of which we’ll know more about today. Speaking of comfort — or, comfort food anyway — there is no breakfast more fantastic for a day’s worth of imbibing than the stuff you can get at Lynn’s Paradise Cafe in the Highlands neighborhood of Louisville. This is what I had on Saturday morning. This is what the missus had. Yeah, we were comforted.

Orioles 7, Nationals 4: The Nats’ eight game winning streak comes to a halt as Chris Jakubauskas pitched five decent innings and got a couple of hits as well to help the Orioles salvage the final game of the series. Speaking of versatility, did you know that Jame Beauregard Beam — who ran Jim Beam when Prohibition hit — managed to continue making money hand over fist running quarries, coal mines and owning orange groves until Prohibition was lifted? Did you also know that it took every ounce of will power I had not to ask the tour guide if, in fact, Beam actually continued to secretly make whiskey, using subterfuge and payoffs to the feds? Because that seems way more likely to me. In fact, at every distillery I went to, they told some tale about how the forefathers survived prohibition, and all I could think was “yeah, they survived it by still making whiskey, dude.”

Athletics 2, Giants 1: Despite staggering into this series, the A’s sweep their cross-bay rivals. Speaking of unexpected, the missus and I sat at the bar at the Brown Hotel for two nights, each night sampling more different bourbons than any sane person should sample, and I’ll be damned if the one I didn’t enjoy the most was a glass of plain old Old Fitz. I ordered it, not because I thought it would be great, but rather, in homage to Hunter S. Thompson, who orders one in the airport bar at the beginning of “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” And man, I liked it. I really liked it. I’m not sure if that says more about the simple things in life being the best or more about how one’s imagination can fool you into all manner of baloney if you let it. But it was good.

Braves 4, Rangers 2: Jason Heyward hit a two-run single and Freddie Freeman had and RBI double.  Speaking of the young doing good things, I think one of the more enlightening things of the past couple of days came while tasting at the lovely Heaven Hill tasting room in Bardstown. The two samples: their Ezra Brooks single barrel and their 18-year-old Elijah Craig. The Brooks was fantastic. Even if you’d never drink a black label Brooks — and I wouldn’t blame you — do try the single barrel, as it may stand as the greatest discovery of the trip for me. In contrast, they talk up the Elijah Craig as something awesome because bourbon is rarely allowed to age for 18 years, and thus it’s supposed to have all kinds of complex things going on with it and blah blah blah. Know what? “Complex” and “bourbon” aren’t necessarily best friends. This isn’t wine or scotch. This is Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It is America’s official spirit. In keeping with that legal designation — and yes, Congress so designated it once upon a time — a certain immediacy and directness is called for that isn’t quite delivered when we pretend that our bourbon is scotch and that it needs more time in the barrel. It doesn’t. When I want complex I’ll drink something complex, but I no more want an overly-complicated drink when I’m in the mood for bourbon than I want some vaguely European dandy to give me the double talk when I want someone to tell me how it is, get me?

Angels 7, Mets 3: Tyler Chatwood pitched seven scoreless. The Mets’ three runs in the ninth were basically an afterthought. Speaking of afterthoughts, for reasons that are still unclear to me, the missus and I stumbled up Fourth Street from the Brown Hotel to the little roped-off party central area of Louisville called “Fourth Street Live.” What you find there: lots of chain bars and restaurants like the Hard Rock Cafe and very corporate feeling Irish Pubs. On Friday night they also happened to have a free concert, featuring some hot country band (as in the genre “hot country”) called Thompson Square. A husband and wife duo that, while catchy enough, pretty much tells you everything that is wrong with hot country. When they had the most fun — and, frankly, when we in the crowd had the most fun — was when they did goofy stuff like covers of New Kids on the Block and Joan Jett which, while cute, belied their true pop influences and showed that the country in their sound was barely skin deep and probably more calculated than anything. I can’t say it wasn’t fun to be out on the street on a nice warm early summer evening, fueled by wonderful brown liquor and enjoying a festive atmosphere, but I can’t say I felt great about it all either. I probably overthink this stuff.

Yankees 10, Cubs 4: Tied 4-4 until the eighth inning when Nick Swisher hit a tie-breaking three-run homer as New York pulled away for an easy win. The crowd at Wrigley was a kind of crazy, with lots of New York fans there chanting for the Yankees and all of the interest in the Bombers playing on the north side leading to a three-day attendance record at Wrigley.  Speaking of outsiders sort of invading, on the way to Woodford Reserve, one passes through the heart of Kentucky horse country, where there sit horse farms with gates that appeared to — and almost certainly did — cost more than my house. On those gates are names like “Dubai Arab Farms” and stuff like that, suggesting how crazy international interest has shaped that business. Go a ways up the road and you can see some of their horses just prancing around the most picturesque pastures you’ve ever seen. Taking this all in, I was struck by the notion that anyone who hopped a fence there and got within 200 yards of one of those horses would likely be shot on site and no jury in that county would convict the shooter.

Indians 5, Pirates 2: Cord Phelps with a dramatic three-run walkoff job in the 11th inning. Speaking of dramatic, the problem you have with anything as old as bourbon making, is that all of the good old stories are sort of lost in the mists of time. At each distillery there is some variation of the story of the founding of bourbon told, be it in an interpretive center or a movie or in a booklet or what have you. Sometimes the reverend Elijah Craig accidentally discovered bourbon making when some barrels were burnt in a fire and he decided to use them anyway. Sometimes it was intentional because he had some harebrained idea. At least three distilleries claim to be the oldest … something, be it “continuously operating” or “currently situated on this site” or “using the same recipe” or whatever in all of America. Unlike the California wine industry, for example, there just isn’t anyone alive anymore who can tell you how stuff really went down. And since 3/4 of all distilleries have someone named “Beam” working for them, there’s even more incentive to lie and fudge and all of that.

I found this troubling for a little while because I really wanted to learn things on my trip, but to be honest, this may be all apart of that “official American spirit” thing. America is kind of full of beans itself (in the best sense of the term), so why shouldn’t one of its signature industries be too?

Hell, baseball is the same way and I love it too, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Should obstruction have been called on Ryan Webb?

Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar gestures to the dugout after hitting a triple against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in Toronto. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)
Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Blue Jays had a comfortable 5-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays, but one never knows when a base runner might be crucial. Kevin Pillar was on first base when reliever Ryan Webb threw over to first on a pickoff attempt and got him in a rundown.

First baseman Logan Morrison chased Pillar towards second base, lobbing the ball to shortstop Brad Miller. Miller sent Pillar back to first base, throwing to Webb covering the bag. Webb chased Pillar back towards second base and threw to second baseman Logan Forsythe. Forsythe chased Pillar back again, but Webb wasn’t able to get out of Pillar’s way. Second base umpire Mark Ripperger immediately signaled “no obstruction” and Pillar was easily tagged out after he was essentially bear hugged by Webb.

Here’s the MLB.com video.

Major League Baseball defines obstruction as “the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.” Webb had already thrown the ball and Forsythe was in possession of it, so he couldn’t have been considered “in the act of fielding.”

At any rate, the Jays still won 5-1, giving them the series win over the Rays.

Reds place Raisel Iglesias on the 15-day disabled list

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias throws in the first inning of their opening day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Reds starter Raisel Iglesias has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an impingement in his right shoulder, the club announced on Sunday. The right-hander said he felt a “pinch” in his shoulder during a bullpen session on Friday.

The club also moved catcher Kyle Skipworth to the 60-day disabled list and recalled pitcher Tim Adleman from Triple-A Louisville.

Iglesias, 26, pitched well over his first five starts to begin the 2016 season. He compiled a 3.49 ERA with a 29/7 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings.

The Reds can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to pitcher health. Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, John Lamb, and Michael Lorenzen are already on the disabled list.

Mets win 8th straight, Conforto and Flores HR to beat Giants

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NEW YORK — Michael Conforto and the bats are booming. Jacob deGrom and the pitchers are peaking. And the defense is making the key plays.

A year after the New York Mets stamped themselves as serious contenders with a big winning streak in April, they’re rolling again.

“There’s not much that we’re not doing,” manager Terry Collins said.

Conforto and Wilmer Flores homered and the Mets won their eighth in a row, building an early lead for deGrom and holding off the San Francisco Giants 6-5 Saturday.

“It just seems relentless,” Conforto said.

At 15-7, the defending NL champions have won 11 of 12. They could be poised for an even more impressive run – next week, they play seven games against last-place Atlanta and San Diego.

The crowd of 44,466 was the largest for a regular-season game at Citi Field since the park opened in 2009, with a lot of fans attracted by the Noah Syndergaard Garden Gnome giveaway.

The Mets almost gave away the game, too.

Ahead 6-3 in the eighth inning, they walked a pair of batters and let the Giants load the bases with no outs. Hunter Pence‘s bid for a go-ahead grand slam was caught just in front of the center-field wall for a sacrifice fly.

Brandon Crawford followed with another sacrifice fly, a liner that right fielder Curtis Granderson jumped to backhand on the warning track.

“Two long popups,” Collins kidded.

Jeurys Familia took over in the ninth and closed for his eighth save in as many chances.

“That’s a tough one for the guys, because they put up quite an effort there to get back in it and try to win that ballgame,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Two balls to just miss like that, that’s a tough one for them.”

Conforto tied a Mets record by hitting a double in his sixth straight game. He also singled and drove in three runs. In his first full season, the 23-year-old outfielder who homered twice in a World Series game last October has comfortably settled into the No. 3 spot in a potent lineup and is batting .365.

“Really had no nerves about it,” he said, adding, “Getting the pitches I know I can hit and not missing them.”

Neil Walker capped a productive first month for his new team with a two-run single.

DeGrom (3-0) overcame his first four walks of the season, pitching two-hit ball for six innings and leaving with a 1.02 ERA. All three runs against him were unearned and came after a throwing error by Flores, who played third base to give David Wright a day off.

New York’s defense also helped deGrom. Pence fisted a bases-loaded, two-run single with two outs in the third, but first baseman Lucas Duda took the accurate relay from Granderson and threw out Brandon Belt trying to reach third.

After setting a club mark by scoring 12 runs in the third inning Friday night, the Mets quickly struck against Matt Cain (0-3).

Walker’s two-out single in the first made it 2-0. Conforto launched a two-run double off the top of the left-field wall in the second for a 4-0 lead.

Overall, the Mets have outscored opponents 50-21 during their winning string.

“It’s nice pitching with a lead,” deGrom said. “You can go right after guys.”

Cain has gone a career-worst 12 starts without a win, dating to his last victory July 22. Slowed by injuries and inconsistency in recent years, the three-time All-Star who once pitched a perfect game is saddled with a 7.00 ERA this season.

Conforto hit his fourth homer in the fifth. Flores connected the next inning for his first of the year. The Mets have 31 home runs in their last 14 games.

STREAKS

Conforto tied Joe Christopher’s team mark in 1964 with doubles in six straight games. Conforto has reached safely in 17 straight. … Yoenis Cespedes‘ club-record string of nine games in a row with an extra-base hit ended.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Giants: 2B Joe Panik was out of the lineup a day after tweaking his groin.

Mets: Wright and C Kevin Plawecki got to sit for a day. C Rene Rivera, who started 87 games for the Rays last year, made his Mets debut. He was hit by a pitch in the back his first time up.

UP NEXT

A prime pitching matchup on deck – if the weather holds. Steady rain is in the forecast Sunday and well could dampen the duel between Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (2-2, 3.64 ERA) and Syndergaard (2-0, 1.69). Bumgarner has won all three of his starts at Citi Field with an 0.78 ERA. Syndergaard has struck out 38 this season, matching Pedro Martinez for the most by a Mets pitcher in the first four starts of a season.

Zimmermann goes 5-0, Upton homers as Tigers top Twins 4-1

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MINNEAPOLIS — Jordan Zimmermann hasn’t required much run support this year. Justin Upton gave him all he needed in the first inning Saturday.

Zimmermann won his fifth straight start to begin his first season with Detroit, and Upton hit a three-run homer for the Tigers in their 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

“Give him a three-run lead, we’re pretty confident he can work with that,” said Upton, whose second homer of the year reached the second deck in left-center. “If we can fight and get on the board early, and let our guys work, we’ll be all right.”

Zimmermann (5-0) gave up one run and six hits with no walks and seven strikeouts over seven innings. His ERA actually rose to 0.55 as he became the first Tigers pitcher to win five games in April since Frank Tanana in 1988, according to STATS.

Upton and Zimmermann both signed as free agents with Detroit for more than $100 million this past offseason. Zimmermann knew he would be joining a team with a high-octane offense, though he hasn’t relied on the Tigers’ bats much yet.

“This is probably the best lineup I’ve ever seen,” Zimmermann said. “They’re going to score runs. It’s just a matter of when and what inning. For me, they’ve been scoring early and allowing me to settle in and just throw strikes.”

Victor Martinez doubled twice for the Tigers, who have won five of six. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a scoreless ninth for his sixth save in seven opportunities.

Eduardo Escobar had three singles for the Twins, who lost their third straight and fell to 7-17 overall.

Tyler Duffey (0-1) gave up just one earned run in 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking none. But one mistake in the first marred an otherwise solid performance.

With two on and two outs, Duffey tried to get ahead in the count with a first-pitch fastball. But the pitch caught too much of the plate and Upton drove it an estimated 417 feet for his second homer with Detroit.

“It’s easy to look back and say I should have gotten out of that. I know I was more than capable of doing it,” Duffey said. “That mistake is a lot larger when you’ve got a guy like Zimmermann throwing against you.”

Zimmermann cruised through the first three innings, but Byung Ho Park homered in the fourth to break up the shutout. Park lined a 1-2 pitch into the bullpen in left-center, his team-leading sixth homer of the year.

It was the first home run allowed by Zimmermann in 29 2/3 innings this season.

After that, each time the Twins threatened, Zimmermann had an answer. John Ryan Murphy reached second on an error by right fielder J.D. Martinez with one out in the fifth before Zimmermann struck out Danny Santana and Brian Dozier to preserve the two-run cushion.

Minnesota got its leadoff man on in the seventh, but Zimmermann promptly induced a double-play grounder from Eddie Rosario.

CATCHER KNOWS BEST

Zimmermann might have kept the Twins off the board entirely if he’d just listened to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who didn’t want to throw Park the slider he hit into the bullpen.

“That was really my only mistake all game. I tried going front door with it, and obviously that wasn’t the right pitch. I’m sure Salty will say the same thing. He didn’t really want to throw it and I did, so that was my fault,” Zimmermann said. “It didn’t work out, but solo home runs aren’t going to kill you, so it’s all good.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Tigers: C James McCann (sprained ankle) caught nine innings for Triple-A Toledo on Friday, but manager Brad Ausmus said McCann will continue his rehab assignment through the weekend. McCann was expected to catch nine more innings Saturday and five innings on Sunday before rejoining the Tigers for their three-game series in Cleveland that begins Tuesday.

Twins: 3B Trevor Plouffe (strained intercostal muscle) was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment with Class A Fort Myers on Saturday. Plouffe has been on the DL since April 19. Barring any setbacks, he is expected to join the Twins in Houston on Tuesday.

UP NEXT

Tigers: RHP Mike Pelfrey (0-4, 4.64 ERA) faces his former team in Sunday’s series finale. Pelfrey spent the past three seasons in Minnesota. He pitched a season-high 6 2/3 innings in his most recent start, a 5-1 loss to the Athletics on Tuesday.

Twins: RHP Ricky Nolasco (1-0, 3.25) has been the team’s most effective starter this season. He’s averaged just shy of seven innings in his four starts and is second in the AL in strikeout-to-walk ratio with 24 strikeouts against three walks.