And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 1: I took my bike out for a spin for the first time in a while last evening. It was a nice ride on a nice night. At least apart from the crazy, over-the-handlebars wreck I got into at the corner of Alpath and Johnston Road. There were no apparent injuries at the time — not even a scrape — and I got up and rode away before anyone saw me. But as I went to bed last night my ankle became very grouchy and it hurts like the dickens this morning. It’s basically telling me “stick to the treadmill, old man.”  Meanwhile, a nearly 50 year-old man in Colorado pitched effective ball into the seventh inning and drove in two by hauling ass down to first on an infield single. Sigh.

Rangers 4, Athletics 1: I watched a lot of this and I can offer you my expert opinion: Yu Darvish is pretty good. He moves his record up to 6-1 after seven and two-thirds innings of one-run ball.  Bonus: at one point during the game the Rangers announcers had an extended conversation about the rapper B.o.B., which is something I didn’t need to hear.

Indians 9, Mariners 3: It’s not often you see a line like this from Felix Hernandez: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB and only three strikeouts. Eric Wedge after the game: “Felix just had an off-day. He’s human. I think sometimes we forget about that.” It’s easy to forget that, actually. Normally it takes only twenty, thirty questions, cross-referenced, to figure that out. With Hernandez it took 100. Wait … he doesn’t know, does he!

Marlins 8, Braves 4: Miami stays hot, notching their 12th win in 15 games in the month of May. Mike Minor has another ugly start for the Braves. Freddi Gonzalez gave him a vote of confidence after the game, but I see Gwinnett in his future.

Reds 6, Mets 3: Todd Frazier hit two homers. The second off of D.J. Carrasco, who got released right after the game. A heckuva couple of nights for Carrasco.

Astros 8, Brewers 3:  Carlos Lee drove in three and Bud Norris pitched seven strong. The Astros — who were supposed to be historically bad — and the Brewers — who were supposed to contend — have the same 16-21 record.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1: Hiroki Kuroda was shellacked and Kyle Drabek … wasn’t. Homers from Edwin Encarnacio, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson and J.C. Arencibia.

Nationals 7, Pirates 4: Adam LaRoche had a double a homer and four driven in. Gio Gonzalez struck out ten in seven innings. Four runs is something of an offensive outburst for the Pirates lately.

Phillies 9, Cubs 2: It was tied up heading into the eighth and then Philly scored seven runs in the last two innings. Hector Luna hit a grand slam and Carlos Ruiz hit a homer of his own. Meanwhile, Placido Polanco left the game in the seventh with a knee contusion. Because the Phillies need more injured infielders. The Phillies are at .500.

Twins 11, Tigers 7: Is it time to press the panic button yet?  Kinda feels like it. As was prophesied in the spring, horrible defense — every member of the Tigers infield committed an error — made Rick Porcello’s night harder than it needed to be, which is saying something given that he kinda stunk anyway. Oh, and Austin Jackson left with an injury, and he’s been hitting better than just about anyone on that squad.

Rays 2, Red Sox 1: There was a scary moment when Will Rhymes passed out after taking first base upon being hit by a pitch on the forearm in the bottom of the eighth.  As Marc Topkin reports, when he came-to, the medical staff asked him what his name was and he said “Batman.” Granted, Batman didn’t even pass out when the leader of the Mutants nearly killed him in “Dark Knight Returns,” so no fastball is gonna give him trouble, but we’ll give Rhymes credit for pluck.

Padres 4, Dodgers 2: Chase Headley homered, doubled and drove in three. If was his fifth homer of the year. Last year he hit only four.

Orioles 4, Royals 3: 0 for 6 while stranding a bunch of runners through the first 14 innings? No worries, Adam Jones hit a homer in the 15th to lift the O’s to victory in a mini-marathon. I say mini, because they had that 17 inning game against the Red Sox less than two weeks ago. I guess it’s their thing.

Cardinals 4, Giants 1: David Freese hit a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh and Skip Shumaker pinch hit in the eighth and delivered with a two-run double. Jaime Garcia struck out nine.

Angels 7, White Sox 2: More signs of life from Albert Pujols. Three hits on Tuesday and a three run homer in this one. And a study in contrasts: Jerome Williams allowed ten hits and only two runs. Gavin Floyd allowed ten hits and seven runs.


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.