And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 3, Angels 2: Wow, this was a wild one. Made all the more wild by the fact that (a) it was going on just as the trade deadline was approaching; and (b) since Justin Verlander had a no-hitter going, it seemed like everyone was watching it. At least everyone in my little corner of the Internet.  Read the game stories to get the full flavor, but any game that has home run poses (Carlos Guillen), headhunting (Jered Weaver on Alex Avila), a starting pitcher yelling eff you at an ump right after the ejection (Weaver again) and then eleventeen violations of the unwritten rules (Erik Aybar laying down a bunt to try to break up the no-no), all in the space of a about a half hour, you know it was an awesome game.

Reds 9, Giants 0: Just when you want to write the Reds off they go and sweep the reigning champs. Of course, Barry Zito started this one for San Francisco, and he wasn’t even on the roster when they won the World Series, so let’s not go too crazy.  Johnny Cueto was fantastic, pitching a three-hitter and lowering his ERA to 1.72.  Three-run homer for Joey Votto who had five RBI on the day.

Phillies 6, Pirates 5: Remember how I mentioned that the schedule was about to get tough for Pittsburgh and that the fairytale was about to end? This is what I was talking about. Philly sweeps.  New hire Hunter Pence doubled in the tenth inning and was then doubled in for the winning run by Raul Ibanez, who had himself a whale of a day, homering twice and hitting the game-winner.  Don’t worry, though, Pirates fans: Joel Hanrahan is well-rested, not having been bothered during the 10th inning. You’ll be happy to know that he will be available to “save” meaningless games against the Astros in August and September.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2: The big hit was Brett Gardner’s bases-loaded triple in the fourth, when the Yankees scored all of their runs. Freddy Garcia won his tenth, striking out six in six innings and allowing two runs on five hits.  The Yankees made no trade deadline moves. But really, there wasn’t a good move out there for them to make.

Brewers 5, Astros 4: The Astros get swept. Not surprising given that (a) they were on a 109-loss pace when the weekend began; and (b) they then traded their two best players over the weekend.  Good times in Houston!

Blue Jays 7, Rangers 3: Brandon Morrow struck out 11. Koji Uehara made his Rangers debut and, during the game, Texas traded for Mike Adams.  But as this game shows, your bullpen can’t do it all for you. C.J. Wilson got rocked.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: The Nats take two of three, winning this one on a Ian Desmond chopper in the bottom of the ninth.  There wouldn’t have been a bottom of the ninth if Drew Storen had protected the ninth inning lead.  But he won the game, so he must have been doing something valuable, right?

Marlins 3, Braves 1:  The 10,000th loss in Braves franchise history! Woo!  Who cares? Michael Bourn will join the team later today, and all will be right with the world. Or so I’m telling myself.

Royals 5, Indians 3: Homers from Jeff Francoeur and Alex Gordon and a solid outing from Danny Duffy.  Going forward, though, this will be a different Indians team thanks to the additions of Ubaldo Jimenez and Ryan Ludwick.

Red Sox 5, White Sox 3: Andrew Miller was eminently hittable — he gave up ten in five and two-thirds — but Dustin Pedroia bailed him out with a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez had an RBI double in the ninth for some insurance.

Padres 8, Rockies 3: A six-run eighth wraps this one up for the Padres, averting a sweep. Three RBI for Jesus Guzman.

Athletics 7, Twins 3: I guess six-run innings are the new inefficiency, because the A’s pulled one off too. Three stolen bases for Coco Crisp. Home run 597 for Jim Thome.

Rays 8, Mariners 1: Ben Zobrist went 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and Jeremy Hellickson held the Mariners to basically bupkis.

Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 3: Two homers for Gerardo Parra. And no, I’m not above hackey crap like thinking of this every time I hear his name.

Cubs 6, Cardinals 3: Jake Westbrook looked good until the sixth, when he gave up four runs. A three-run homer from Lance Berkman was all the Cards could muster.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.