And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 16, Tigers 9: The Mets blast the Tigers’ pitching for the second night in a row (though the Tigers blasted back a bit themselves). Everyone in the Mets’ starting lineup hit, including Scott Hairston, whose bases loaded triple in the first broke it open, after which he did some lame antlers thing or whatever it was. Really, I don’t even. Point is, the Mets have scored 52 runs on 69 hits in their past four games. Phil Coke was a disaster for Detroit. His stint as a starter may have to end soon, because it just ain’t working.

Braves 5, Mariners 3: The Braves take their eighth win in ten tries, beating King Felix of all people. Ten hits. All singles. Eric Wedge left Hernandez in for 127 pitches for some reason.

Twins 1, Dodgers 0: Scott Baker continues to impress. He has a 3.16 ERA and a strikeout/walk ratio of 100/28 in 105 innings.

Reds 4, Rays 3: Ryan Hanigan hit a three-run homer in the fourth. I’m still not forgetting that he missed a ball during long toss that hit me in the arm during spring training. And I don’t care if it is my fault that I was standing right behind him. I believe he was subject to some sort of implied covenant to protect dumb bloggers.

Indians 6, Diamondbacks 2: Four hits and an RBI for Orlando Cabrera. He has raised his batting average by five points since I made fun of him for being an Ayn Rand fan. I’m going to take credit for that. Not because I believe I’m responsible, but because, as a Rand fan, it probably angers him that someone else could be responsible for his self improvement.

Angels 1, Nationals 0: Dan Haren: two hits over seven and a third shutout innings. Davey Johnson has not won a game as a major league manager since Bill Clinton was president.

Padres 4, Royals 1: San Diego continues to roll. This one was aided by Mike Moustakas and Eric Hosmer combining to butcher a popup that they each lost in the sun, leading to a big unearned-run inning for the Padres. I guess they don’t have sun in Omaha, so it’s understandable that those two had their troubles.  San Diego is now out of the cellar.

Cardinals 5, Orioles 1: Chris Carpenter looked like Chris Carpenter, allowing a single run in a complete game.  The Orioles starting pitching — which most of us felt would be the difference between the O’s being respectable this year and being a punching bag — has turned into something of a punching bag of late.

Phillies 2, Red Sox 1: For once John Lackey looks good — and hell, he even drove in a run with a double — and what happens? The vaunted Bosox offense can’t get anything going. But hey, the Phillies have all of those aces.  Wait, what? It was Vance Worley? Well, then. Oh, and for what it’s worth: Gonzalez in right and Ortiz at first were a non-factor in this game, both for good and for ill.

Blue Jays 2, Pirates 1: Yet another low scoring game on a night full of low scoring games. Brandon Morrow Ks 10 in seven innings.

White Sox 3, Rockies 2: A ninth inning rally off Huston Street, capped by a sac fly that scored Carlos Quentin boosts the Sox over the Rox. Two nights in a row that the game between these two has been decided by a close play — or what should have been a close play — at the plate.

Rangers 3, Astros 2: Two homers for Ian Kinsler. One of which came after he was hit in the stomach by a pitch but, because umpire Bob Davidson said he was trying to bunt, wasn’t awarded first base. Lucky for him I guess.

Yankees 5, Brewers 2: Russell Martin hit a three-run homer. Which is kind of impressive because I was of the impression that Martin was near death and was going to stagger his way through the rest of the season an injured heap. Just kind of a vibe I had.

Marlins 3, Athletics 0: Five-hit shutout for Ricky Nolasco. Two RBI for Hanley Ramirez. That’s how this stuff is supposed to go for Florida.

Cubs 2, Giants 1: A serious duel between Ryan Dempster and Tim Lincecum, though neither got the decision. Carlos Marmol came in to the game in the ninth to lock down the 1-0 Cubs lead but couldn’t, allowing one of Dempster’s runners to score. But never fear, Aramis Ramirez is here, and he singled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth.

UPDATE: Donald Trump declines Nats offer to throw out the first pitch

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UPDATE: Welp, we wont’ get to see that:

Sad!

8:53 AM: It’s just gossip now, but Politico is hearing that Donald Trump is in talks to throw out the first pitch at Nationals Park on Opening Day. The Nats are not commenting. Neither are the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League, who no doubt feel slighted given that the president effectively is a local.

With the caveat that, on Opening Day, tickets are likely to be more expensive and thus you’re likely to have a lot more rich people and friends-of-the-owners in attendance, thereby ensuring a more conservative crowd, I’m struggling to imagine a situation in which Trump strolls on to a baseball field in a large American city and isn’t booed like crazy. He’s polling as low as 36% in some places. He’s not exactly Mr. Popular.

Oh well. I look forward to him three-bouncing one to Matt Wieters and then grabbing his phone and tweeting about how it was the best, most tremendous first pitch in baseball history. Or blaming Hillary Clinton for it in the event he admits that it was a bad pitch.

2017 Preview: Texas Rangers

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2017 season. Next up: The Texas Rangers.

The Rangers somehow won the AL West last year despite not being super great at any one aspect of the game. There are stars here — Adrian Beltre, Cole Hamels, Yu Darvish and Rougned Odor are all spiffy players — but the Rangers won the division by being greater than the sum of their parts. They scored a decent number of runs despite some bad collective peripheral numbers and they allowed more runs than anyone in the AL except the Twins and Athletics. Yet they had a great record in one-run games and outperformed their pythagorean record by a WHOLE lot. Luck shined brightly on the 2016 Rangers.

It’s hard to expect luck to hold in any instance, but that’s especially the case when there have been some pretty significant changes. Changes like the loss of Carlos Beltran, Ian Desmond and Mitch Moreland. In their place: A full season, the Rangers hope, from Shin-Soo Choo, a converted-to-outfield Jurickson Profar and Mike Napoli. That may wash out OK, especially if Choo is healthy, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see some regression in two of those offensive slots.

Starting pitching is also a big question mark. Cole Hamels at the top is not a problem, obviously, and if Yu Darvish is healthy and durable the Rangers have an outstanding 1-2 punch. Martin Perez in the third spot presents promise, but he’s been exactly average so far in five major league seasons. The back end of the rotation has some real problems. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross are hurt at the moment and even if healthy, Cashner seems to be a shell of his once-promising self. A.J. Griffin is looking to pitch in his first full season since 2013. If the Rangers are strong contenders all year it’s gonna be on the “Spahn and Sain and two days of rain” model, but I have no idea what rhymes with “Darvish” and that’s sort of a problem.

The bullpen is going to look a lot like it did last year. Sam Dyson will close, but manager Jeff Banister has shown in the past that he’s not a slave to keeping guys in any one role down there. Jeremy Jeffress will likely set up but he’s closed before. Some think Matt Bush or Keone Kela could close. We’ll see Tanner Scheppers and lefty Alex Claudio. Banister has a Manager of the Year Award on his mantle and while that often doesn’t mean anything, it usually suggests that a guy knows how to deal with his pen. Banister will do OK with what he has.

Really, though, the rotation is a concern, as is hoping that a 35-year-old Mike Napoli and a soon-to-be 38-year-old Adrian Beltre can continue to be the types of players who can form the offensive core of a playoff team. There’s talent and a track record here, but there’s a lot of uncertainty. For that reason, I suspect the Rangers will fall back a smidge this year, even if they’re a playoff contender.

Prediction: Second Place, American League West.