And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

84 Comments

Braves 6, Mets 5; Braves 5, Mets 1: A makeup doubleheader. Chipper Jones made like it was 1999 and that dismantling the Mets was still his primary purpose on the Earth. Those were the days. He hit a homer doubled and scored twice in game 1 He drove in two more in the nightcap. Something named “Chris Schwinden” pitched for the Mets. They ought to have that looked at. All four of the starters in the double header were rookies.

Phillies 7, Brewers 2: Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins were all out of the lineup. And it didn’t really much matter. Cole Hamels pitched a four-hitter and Hunter Pence drove in three in the first came of what could be an NLCS preview. Or, actually, if the Dbacks keep winning I suppose it could be an NLDS preview, as Milwaukee is only a couple of games ahead of Arizona at the moment.

Dodgers 7, Nationals 4; Dodgers vs. Nationals: POSTPONED:  They tried to have a makeup doubleheader in Washington, but they could only get one game in before it was washed out. A two-run double for Tony Gwynn, Jr. in the ninth broke the tie and a Dee Gordon RBI single added insurance. The Dodgers’ bullpen stepped up big here as Chad Billingsley was yanked in the third and the relief corps pitched a no-hitter for the remaining six and two-thirds.

Orioles 5, Yankees 4: The Yankees built a 4-1 lead but the bats went silent after the fourth inning. They have to be sick to death of the Orioles by now, who’ve they played in eight of the last 14 games. New York heads to Los Angeles now. Let’s see how snakebitten they are: will it rain in Southern California?

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 4: The Sox drop their fourth in five tries. J.P. Arencibia hit a three-run homer. Andrew Miller was basically Andrew Miller, giving up five runs in five innings. But hey, at least there are those studies out there that show that how hot a team is in the last month of the season has very little bearing on their playoff performance.

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 1: Ian Kennedy wins his 19th while striking out 11. It was the Dbacks’ 14th win in 16 games.

Mariners 4, Royals 1: A two-run homer for Justin Smoak, his first in months.

White Sox 8, Indians 1: Brent Morel hit two homers — both while first-pitch swinging — and Paul Konerko hit a grand slam. The Sox scored seven runs in the seventh inning.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
2 Comments

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

Harry How/Getty Images
6 Comments

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.