And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 4, Pirates 2: Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 in six innings. The only thing more dominating than he was the Hulk when I went to go see “The Avengers” last night. Upshot: damn fine movie. But the “Dark Night Rises” trailer before it may have been even better. Yes, I realize that I may be reacting emotionally here.

Anyway, a question (and if you haven’t seen the movie yet, move along): why is the Hulk such a malevolent threat when he first transforms on the ship, to the point where Black Widow and everyone in his path is in extreme peril just by being near him, yet during the big battle scene everyone can hang around him and he’s all cool and knows who the bad guys are and stuff? Well, except for Thor that one time.  I’m sure there’s some reason for this besides movie convenience — and I never read the Hulk comics, so if the answer is there, I’m just ignorant about it — but I did think about it.  Oh, and I’m sort of in love with Cobie Smulders now too.  Anyway, enough of that. Other games:

Indians 8, Red Sox 3: The fans booed Josh Beckett off the field. And afterwards he said they were smart fans because he “pitched like sh**.”  That sums it up, no? He gave up seven runs on seven hits and walked two in two and a third innings and ensured that people will make hacky jokes about his golf game for the next five days. (Oh look! They’re here already!)

Orioles 6, Rangers 5: Rangers 7, Orioles 3: Colby Lewis struck out ten but allowed five bombs in Game 1, which is kind of special.  In Game 2, Josh Hamilton hit his 15th homer and drove in two, giving former teammate Tommy Hunter the loss.

Yankees 5, Rays 3: CC Sabathia struck out ten and allowed no earned runs in eight innings, getting his 5th win of the year. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson hit homers.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 2: Henderson Alvarez continues his fine work, allowing only a single earned run over seven. Jason Marquis, not so much. And talk about symbolic futility: runner on third, popup in front of the plate and neither Maquis, catcher Ryan Doumit nor third basemen Trevor Plouffe caught it. It just hit the ground with a sick thud. There are your 2012 Minnesota Twins, folks.

Tigers 10, Athletics 6: Yes, Detroit won — good job for Miguel Cabrera and Andy Dirks having big games as the Detroit offense awoke from its stupor — but that aside, Brandon Inge hit a grand slam against his old mates, giving him 12 RBI in his last four games. As I said yesterday, the closest thing to chaos we have in baseball right now is the relationship Tigers fans have with Brandon Inge, so to see him have a big game against them is rather fun.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.