And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 3, Phillies 2: Roy Halladay struck out 14 and pitched a complete game but lost all the same. Guess he just doesn’t know how to win, huh?  Lyle Overbay knocked in all three of the Snakes’ runs, including a two-run double which ended up winning it in the ninth.

Astros 6, Cubs 5: Where in the hell did that come from? It was 5-2 in the ninth and I was just about ready to write that the Astros may not win 50 games this year, when all of a sudden something called a Brian Bogusevic hits a walkoff grand slam off Carlos Marmol. I mean, sure, Marmol has had his share of meltdowns this year, but since when do the Astros have any late game moxie? Oh, and they still may not win 50 games this year, but given this dramatic win, it would be rude to point that out in this recap.

Braves 2, Giants 1: Whichever San Francisco Giants employee built their house on that ancient Indian burial ground, can you please tear it down? On a day when practically everyone who has ever worn a Giants uniform dating back to Billy O’Dell was placed on the disabled list or otherwise injured, starter Jonathan Sanchez had to leave the game early with a sprained ankle. That the Braves won it on an 11th inning single was probably a blessing for Bruce Bochy, who no doubt was convinced by then that he’d lose a player to Cotard’s Syndrome or something. As it is, he probably has a case of Trichotillomania by now.

Athletics 8, Orioles 4: Read the box score if you want to know what happened in the game. For now, I’m mostly interested in the AP recap. For the second day in a row (here’s yesterday’s), the guy writing the O’s-A’s recap has gone with a pitcher talking about his cut fastball as the centerpiece. Coincidence? Possibly. Maybe that’s just what the player decided to talk about in the clubhouse afterward. But part of me thinks that we have a cutter obsessive on our hands, lurking in west coast ballparks, armed with a press pass and his monomania. But what does he want? WHAT DOES HE WANT?!

Rangers 7, Angels 3:  [As the Angels join hands to sing]: I was born here and I’ll die here against my will. I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still. Every nerve in my body is so vacant and numb. I can’t even remember what it was I came here to get away from. Don’t even hear a murmur of a prayer. It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.

Red Sox 3, Rays 1; Rays 6, Red Sox 2:  I hit the first game up in a post yesterday. As for the second, one day after I mentioned that I like the bang-bang-bang triple plays, the Red Sox turned one. What kind of sorcery is this, and can I learn to use it on demand?

Tigers 7, Twins 1: Justin Verlander cruises, as usual. I know wins aren’t everything, but the guy is on pace for something like 24 wins right now, and that kind of total doesn’t happen much these days. There’s a righteous argument for him to win the Cy Young on the real merits anyway, but if he snags 24 wins, it’s probably unanimous because it’s the kind of thing on which everyone can agree.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 4: Walkoff homer for Garrett Jones in the 11th. I have no idea how this happened. I mean, Tony La Russa had his ancient lefty specialist in to face the lefty Jones, and the gods who gave La Russa was all of his baseball wisdom proclaimed that such a strategy never fails. I saw it written in flaming letters on the side of a granite cliff. I swear.

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: As the Cardinals lose, Milwaukee improves to 12-2 in August thanks to Mark Kotsay’s RBI single to end it in the ninth. They now have a seven game lead in the division. That’s only a half game worse than Philly’s lead in the East, which is the biggest in baseball.

Nationals 6, Reds 4:  I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that, both times recently when I remembered that Wang was pitching, he won.  Because I have a clever little phrase I want to use that I’m sure no one has ever thought of before in the event that someone beats Wang.

Padres 6, Mets 1: Like the Cubs, the Padres are putting it together too late for it to matter. But hey, at least they’re putting it together. How together? San Diego leads all of baseball in runs scored since the All-Star break. Yeah, that’s a bit of a shocker.  Fifteen hits last night, including two triples for Nick Hundley.

Blue Jays 13, Mariners 7: They Jays jumped out to a six-run lead, blew it, and then went on to win by six anyway. It’s like they have a crate of six-run leads in the clubhouse that they can just use whenever.

Marlins 6, Rockies 5: Eight strong innings from Anibal Sanchez to give him his first win in over two months. It was almost deja vu for Florida, though, as the Rockies mounted a ninth inning rally. It fell short, of course. If it hadn’t, I would have written the score differently.

Yankees 9, Royals 7:  Ivan Nova gave up seven runs on nine hits in five and a third. But he got the win, so by definition, that makes him better than Roy Halladay.

White Sox 8, Indians 7:  A wild one. The wildest part: Juan Pierre, offensive hero. A homer in the fourth — only his 16th in his whole long career — and the walkoff single in the 14th.  Also wild: the Sox had five triples. Also wild: the Indians had the bases loaded with one out in the 13th but couldn’t get it done. A five-hour+ game.

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.