And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 5, Astros 4: Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez hit home runs, finally putting that crazy home run sculpture into action. Somehow we all survived, though I’m not ruling out the possibility that we all got thrown into an alternate timeline or something and won’t truly realize it until all the crazy occult stuff starts happening. Kind of like when Ash heard that tape of the professor reciting passages from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. If Logan Morrison starts calling his bat his “boomstick” and decapitates a possessed Giancarlo Stanton, we’ll know that there is some serious stuff going down.

Dodgers 5, Padres 4: L.A. sports the best record in baseball at 9-1 following a walkoff RBI single by Dee Gordon. Weird triple play in this one. Runners on first and second and Jesus Guzman squared to bunt. He thought it was foul as did the runners, none of whom moved. Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis fired to third, it went around the horn to second and first and everyone was out. Kind of b.s if you ask me, as the home plate umpire held his arms up as though it were a dead ball at first.

Cardinals 10, Cubs 3: Matt Carpenter only has playing time because everyone on the planet is injured, but he’s making the most of it. He’s hitting .409 with 10 RBIs in 22 at-bats on the young season. Yesterday he hit a homer, a triple and drove in five. Jake Westbrook allowed only four hits in seven innings.

Braves 7, Brewers 4: Atlanta lost its first four games but has won its last five. Chipper Jones hasn’t played much, but he’s contributed each time he has played, hitting a three-run homer in this one. Brandon Beachy gave up only three hits and an unearned run in seven innings.

Blue Jays 9, Orioles 2: The Jays put up a seven spot in the sixth inning to turn this one into a laugher and averted a sweep by the Orioles. Kyle Drabek had his second strong start in a row.

Reds 8, Nationals 5: Joey Votto doubled in two in the 11th to help the Reds avoid a sweep in Washington. Grand slam for Ryan Ludwick.

Red Sox 6, Rays 4: Nothing like winning three straight over a division rival while scoring 31 runs to make everyone feel better about everything. Patriots Day game early today during which the Sox will go for the sweep. In other news, Ralph Branca threw out the first pitch. The ghost of Bobby Thomson stole the sign that was relayed to him and smacked it over the left field wall. Don DeLillo is writing all about it as we speak.

Phillies 8, Mets 2: Cole Hamels strikes out ten in seven innings, helping the Phillies avoid the sweep. Ty Wigginton drove in four, three of which came on a bases-clearing double that broke the game open in the eighth. The Phillies now start a ten game west coast swing.

Tigers 5, White Sox 2: Rick Porcello gave up one run in seven and two-thirds and Gerald Laird went 3 for 4 with a homer. Believe it or not, Porcello’s win was the first W notched by a Tigers starter this season.

Indians 13, Royals 7: The Indians scored 32 runs in a three-game sweep of the Royals, reminding everyone who thought the Royals were a sexy pick this season that they really don’t have the pitching to do it. Unless you count Mitch Maier, who now leads the team in ERA. Travis Hafner murdered a baseball in this one, sending it some 456 feet, which was one of the longest homers in the history of Kaufman Stadium.

Diamondbacks 5, Rockies 2: Yet another game yesterday in which the winner avoided a three-game sweep. Trevor Cahill allowed only four hits, all of them singles, and only one run in seven and a third. Chris Young homered and drove in three.

Rangers 4, Twins 3: Texas scored three in the eighth, capped by a Josh Hamilton two-run bomb. Hamilton has four homers on the season and his 16 for 41. The Rangers lead the AL with an 8-2 record.

Pirates 4, Giants 1: Pittsburgh snaps a five game losing streak. Garrett Jones homered, described in the AP game story as “Jones pulled a solo home run over the right-field arcade.” When it landed it hit a guy who was pounding the l-r buttons on Track and Field so hard  he couldn’t hear the crowd noise, then it bounced over to the other side of the arcade and rolled under the Dragon’s Lair machine. Which no one ever really plays because we all feel like it’s rigged.

Yankees 11, Angels 5:  Jerome Williams got shelled out of the gate, the bullpen didn’t help and the Angels slow start continues. Raul Ibanez absolutely destroyed a baseball in the bottom of the seventh, putting it up in the upper deck on one of the longest homers ever hit in new Yankee Stadium.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Remember back when the Mariners and A’s used to play teams besides each other? I don’t. Brendan Ryan hit a homer. I don’t remember that happening too often either.

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.