And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights


Mets 10, Phillies 5: Cliff Lee was OK in his return, but he was on a pitch count and the bullpen — including reverted-to-longman-work Kyle Kendrick — got shellacked. Again. Ike Davis drove in three.  The Mets so thoroughly own Citizens Bank Park this year that the Phillies are gonna have to launch some awkward take-back-the-park initiative pretty soon. Philly-a-tude! Phillies-o-rama! Phillandia!

Rays 4, Yankees 1: Welcome to what everyone else has had to deal with forever, Yankees fans: shaky bullpen work.  Granted a 1-0 lead isn’t the easiest thing to protect, but David Robertson left little doubt about whether this one was going to be blown, giving up four runs.

Rockies 6, Padres 2: Left-hander Christian Friedrich pitched six solid innings and …. wait.  Sorry, I can’t continue this one. I need to clear something up. [dials the Rockies clubhouse]

Me: Mr Freed-rich …
Christian Friedrich: “Fredrick”
Me: You’re putting me on.
Christian Friedrich: No, it’s pronounced “Fredrick”
Me: Do you also say “Christ-Ean”?
Christian Friedrich: No… “Christian.”
Me: Well, why isn’t it “Christ-Ean Frederick?”?
Christian Friedrich: It isn’t; it’s “Christian Frederick.”
Me: I see.
Christian Friedrich: You must be Craig.
Me: No, it’s pronounced “Cray-ag.”
Christian Friedrich: But they told me it was “Craig.”
Me: Well, they were wrong then, weren’t they?

Pirates 4, Nationals 2: Erik Bedard left with an injury after one inning but the Pirates didn’t miss a beat: five guys combined to pitch eight innings of two-run ball and Andrew McCutchen went 4 for 4.  Bryce Harper went 0 for 4, but he did catch a Pedro Alvarez fly near the wall and then turned around with the ball in his glove and taunted Pirates fans with it, and that’s pretty effin’ solid.  As a tremendous fan of Ric Flair and Tully Blanchard, I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a heel in Major League Baseball right now.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: Hit this one up yesterday. Zack Greinke’s bad luck and lack of support has to remind him of his days back in Kansas City.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: Adam Lind was moved down to eighth in the order. Must not have liked it because he hit a homer. Brandon Morrow struck out ten.

Cubs 1, Braves 0: A two hour and five minute game on getaway day. I have no idea if this is common for the Cubs, but I am shocked — shocked! — that the Braves went down quietly while a plane waited for them at the airport.

White Sox 8, Indians 1: Jake Peavy (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and Adam Dunn (1 for 3, HR, BB, 2RBI) continue to carry this team.

Angels 6, Twins 2: Mike Trout had a couple of doubles and a couple of RBI. Albert Pujols singled in a couple of runs. I’ve been telling people for a while that I’ll feel way better about Pujols being back on track if he starts to simply hit a bit — singles count — as opposed to us watching the home run totals as if they mean everything.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: Two of the Royals runs were unearned thanks to a Marlon Byrd error. Bruce Chen gave up three runs while pitching into the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez had a bases-clearing double.  The Sox have lost seven of eight. Those games were against Oakland, Baltimore and Kansas City. Which, sure, they’re all playing decent ball, but no, they were not supposed to be abusing the Boston Red Sox.

Marlins 5, Astros 3: I fell asleep before this one ended and I set ATH to post this morning before I woke up. In the meantime, Old Gator supplied a pithy recap that will suit our purposes just fine:

The Feesh took down the Astros 5-3 in extra eenings last night, playing beyond Craig’s bedtime when he wore himself out trying to button the rear hatch on his Pooh pajamas after having already put them on … Josh Johnson peetched seven pretty solid innings, thank Buddha, giving up just two runs and looking, if not like the dominant monster he was early last season, at least a lot less like the batting practice machine he has been in most of his starts. Probably Slobbering Ozzie had noticed something about his motion, and Josh discovered the flaw while he was trying to figure out what Ozzie had said to him in the first place. Omar Infante got Ryan Webb back the two runs he gave away for him the night before with a walkoff seengle in the twelfth.

The Astros have assuredly not been the doormats everyone expected them to be, at least not in the early going, and it’s a shame these hungry kids will have that degenerate, post-classical phenomenon known as designatedhitterball in their futures, this just as they’re getting good at real baseball. Perhaps playing well enough to surprise everyone is their bucket list.

Dodgers 6, Giants 2: Lincecum looked good for three innings and then hit a wall in the fourth, giving up a bases-clearing triple to Tony Gwynn Jr. In other news, I don’t care if he plays 15 years, I will still have trouble getting my mind around the fact that Tony Gwynn’s son is playing major league baseball. I never have this trouble with other kids of major leaguers, but for some reason it just doesn’t match up for me with Gwynn, who no matter his age, shape or infirmity, I am convinced stopped playing baseball only a year or two ago.

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 2: Arizona is skidding, St. Louis is surging. Close until the ninth when Matt Holliday drove in two with a double and Allen Craig hit a two-run bomb.

Mariners 2, Tigers 1:  John Jaso drove in the go-ahead late after Jason Vargas allowed one run over eight innings. Detroit is a .500 team on May 10th. No one saw that coming.

Rangers vs. Orioles: POSTPONED: Pfft. As if Josh Hamilton isn’t powerful enough to have just stopped the rain with his bat and his determination. Weak sauce, Hamilton.

2018 Preview: Oakland Athletics

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Between now and Opening Day, HardballTalk will take a look at each of baseball’s 30 teams, asking the key questions, the not-so-key questions, and generally breaking down their chances for the 2018 season. Next up: The Oakland Athletics.

The A’s have finished last in the AL West for three straight years. If you believe the folks at Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus and anyone else who makes projections, they’ll either finish in last again or come within a game or two of it. There’s not a lot of suspense to my prediction here — I’ll end up picking them to finish fifth — but the prediction is not really what a preview is about. It’s about the shape of the team and what we can expect in broad brushes.

While I can’t foretell greatness for the 2018 Oakland Athletics, I can’t say the broad brushes are bad. At least if you grade on a curve. It won’t be a good team, but they’ll be worth watching because they have a lot of good, fun and interesting players who are likely to be on that next good Oakland A’s team in the way Stephen Vogt and Brett Lawrie were not.

Their lineup is pretty spiffy for a second division team. Khris Davis, Matt Joyce and new acquisition Jonathan Lucroy are known commodities both inside and outside A’s fandom, but people who don’t pay much attention to the goings on in Oakland may not be fully aware of just how good and promising Matt Olson and Matt Chapman are. Olson hit 24 homers in 59 games last year. That’s not a sustainable pace — the league will figure him out to — but even regression from that will be fantastic. Chapman hit 14 in half a season and played superior defense at third base. He also struck out 92 times in half a season but who’s counting? [editor: everyone counts everything in baseball]. Hey, look, dingers! Yonder Alonso and Ryon Healey are gone from last year’s crew and Stephen Piscotty is new in town. Marcus Semien is a decent bat for a shortstop. All-in-all that’s a lineup that will play, and play very, very well if Chapman and Olson are what they’ve shown themselves to be thus far.

At the risk of criminal understatement, allow me to observe that the starting pitching is not as promising. Sean Manaea and Kendall Graveman are at the top of the rotation. On good teams they’d be in the middle or the back. The rest of their rotation options — Daniel Mengden, Andrew Triggs, Paul Blackburn, who will miss the start of the regular season with a sore forearm — are less-than-impressive. They just signed Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson from the scrap heap hoping, I guess, to recreate some of that, uh, 2010 magic? 2010 was a long time ago!

Jharel Cotton would’ve been in the mix but he’s now out for the year for Tommy John surgery. A.J. Puk, the A’s top prospect would be a nice midseason upgrade, but he’s hurt. Not seriously, but the A’s will probably be more careful with him now than they would’ve been, which still would’ve been careful. All-in-all, there was a lack of quality arms to begin with, but with the injuries mounting, starting pitching could be a trash fire for the A’s.

The bullpen has a new look with newcomers Ryan Buchter, Yusmeiro Petit and Emilio Pagan joining 2017 in-season additions Blake Treinen and Chris Hatcher. That’s a pretty good and pretty interesting group which was going to see a lot of innings as it was in our new bullpenning era, but now that the rotation looks shaky as hell, they’ll see even more. If you’re curious about the limits of leaning on a bullpen, postseason-style are, Oakland will be running a pretty fun experiment to that end in 2018.

I look at this club’s bats — especially the young guys upon whom its so very easy to project so much promise and optimism, because I’m a sucker for hitting prospects — and think that they can outperform those statsy projections and be better than the Rangers and Mariners. Then I think about how the upside — UPSIDE! — for the rotation is 380 innings from Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson and I sorta wanna cry.

If the A’s get some breaks and some unexpectedly good (or average) pitching performances, they could certainly finish above the cellar. Perhaps well above the cellar. For now, though, I’m guessing that they’ll be in 80-win territory at best and finish last in a division that does not have any teams totally punting, making for a competitive and, subsequently, tough year.

Prediction: Fifth place, AL West