Texas Rangers Andrus and Kinsler celebrate after defeating Los Angeles Angels during their MLB baseball game in Anaheim

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 4, Angels 3: Watching the Angels get beat by the Rangers puts me in mind of some sci-fi movie where a group is under attack from an invading army. Mike Scioscia is the defending general in a command center somewhere and keeps getting reports that the defenses are crumbling. He steels himself and says “send out Santana,” who in the movie is thought of as some last resort defense, only to see him overrun. Then, tonight, he orders the “Weaver maneuver” — a really, really, last defense; like a ship captain ordering his helmsman to ram the intruder — to be deployed. If the usual narrative holds, Weaver gets annihilated and Scioscia orders a full retreat and the second half of the movie results in a change of tactics, guerrilla warfare or some sort of doomed resistance movement.  I’m having trouble putting my finger of what movie this is but I’m sure someone knows the general arc I’m talking about. Maybe it’s partly the end of “The Best of Both Worlds” when Riker orders Crusher to ram the Borg cube combined with a little bit of “Red Dawn.” What? No, I really have been with a woman before. Why do you ask?

Giants 7, Braves 5: On a day when yet another Giant — closer Brian Wilson — is unavailable due to owies, Matt Cain plays stopper, allowing only one run — unearned — in eight innings. Of course, without Wilson the bullpen kind of melted down in the ninth, but San Francisco’s 7-1 lead entering the bottom of the inning provided enough of a cushion.

Rays 4, Red Sox 0: Hit this one up yesterday. The best offense in baseball is suddenly not at its best.

Astros 4, Cubs 3: That man, Brian Bogusevic, comes through again with an RBI double and the Astros have themselves a nice little two-game winning streak. They should probably do champagne showers and everything for this.

Athletics 6, Orioles 5: Kurt Suzuki had two homers and held on to the ball on a wacko play to end it.  All kinds of ugly outfield defense in this one.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 2: Allen Craig hit two homers. Whenever he makes SportsCenter, my brother calls me and says “hey, your name is Craig Allen, and there’s a baseball player named Allen Craig! Did you know that?”  Yes, Curt, I knew that.

Reds 2, Nationals 1: Johnny Cueto allows one run in eight innings and drops that ERA down to 1.89.

Phillies 9, Diamondbacks 2: An effective Cliff Lee keeps the Dbacks’ bats quiet and Hunter Pence reaches base four times, scoring three times. I credit the fiery bacon.

Mets 7, Padres 3: David Wright pwned Cameron Maybin. Total pwnage.

Rockies 12, Marlins 5: Ricky Nolasco had beaten the Rockies five straight times. This time, not so much. Four RBI a piece for Carlos Gonzalez and Chris Iannetta.

Blue Jays 6, Mariners 1: Brandon Morrow struck out 12 Mariners in six innings. When do the Orioles play the M’s? I wanna see Adam Jones hit for the cycle.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 1: Betting on baseball is idiotic because anything can happen in one game. But if I had to bet on one game yesterday, it would have been Greinke and the Brewers beating L.A. That’s six straight for Milwaukee

Royals 5, Yankees 4: Yankees lose by one on a night with a controversial home run call? Yeah, we’re gonna have more about that later.

Indians 4, White Sox 1: Nothing like a fierce battle for second place in baseball’s worst division. But this year, it’s pretty much all we have.

Twins 6, Tigers 5: And of course, the division’s best team loses a series like this.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.04.09 AM
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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: