Dusty Baker, Brandon Phillips

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 12, Indians 5: One in a bunch of lopsided Thursday games. Brandon Phillips simply abuses Indians pitching as a rule and he did so again yesterday, driving in four. And he likes it too. He said after the game: “Deep down, it feels good to beat up on the Tribe.” Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 21. The Reds sweep the Indians for the first time in four years. They are so close to claiming victory in the Battle of Ohio. And to the victor goes the spoils!  Soon the Reds will dine on the finest bologna and Velveeta the Buckeye State has to offer and the streets of Columbus, Lima and Akron will flow with the blood of the non-believers!

Cardinals 5, White Sox 3: Adam Dunn tied Josh Hamilton for the MLB lead in homers with his 22nd bomb. He’s on pace for 57 homers and 255 strikeouts. His average is .227 yet his OPS is .940. Dude is too weird to live, too rare to die. Sure, the Cardinals won, but that’s a mere detail. We’re in the business of building this donkey’s legend here, friend.

Mets 9, Rays 6: Johan Santana was less-than-sharp, but the Mets sweep the Rays behind two homers from Kirk Nieuwenhuis. Jason Bay added one too. That’s something considering he’s on a “hey, good for you!” basis for doing anything more than falling over these days.

Tigers 5, Cubs 3: Detroit wins its second straight over Chicago and Justin Verlander notches a win for the first time in a month. Most notable, however: just how thoroughly Detroit fans took over Wrigley Field in this series. It was basically a home game for the Tigers. Someone in Chicago had better come up with some sort of “Cubsitude” campaign. Or something.

Orioles 12, Pirates 6: Baltimore unloads on former mate Erik Bedard for their biggest offensive night of the season. Steve Pearce homered and drove in five. Matt Wieters drove in five and did it without even hitting a homer. The O’s were up 10-0 before the Pirates got a run. Just a shellacking.

Athletics 8, Rockies 2: Oakland has one of the worst offenses in the game but leaves Colorado having scored 26 runs in a three-game sweep. Meanwhile, Jarrod Parker allowed only three hits over seven scoreless innings. The Rockies are simply cratering.

Phillies 6, Twins 1: Know what Charlie Manuel needed? A night when he didn’t have to call on that freak show bullpen of his. And Joe Blanton gave it to him. Blanton threw a complete game, allowing one run on seven hits. Jim Thome hit a three-run bomb because he is Jim Thome and all he does is mash taters.

Royals 4, Brewers 3: For the second night in a row the Royals got to the back end of Milwaukee’s bullpen. Though really, this isn’t all on John Axford. He struck out the first man he faced but strike three was a wild pitch, allowing him to reach (note: like 75% of wild pitches seem to come on balls the catcher should at least knock down and passed balls are rarely called these days). The winning run scored on a dumb decision by shortstop Edwin Maysonet, who cut off a throw from the outfield in an effort to get the batter which allowed the lead runner to come around and score.

Diamondbacks 11, Rangers 3: Arizona salvages one and breaks out of a run scoring drought to do it. Daniel Hudson struck out seven in seven innings, rebounding from a nightmare start his last time out.

Astros 6, Giants 3: It was an extremely Barry Zito third inning, as he walked the bases loaded and then allowed a grand slam to J.D. Martinez. Brandon Belt hit his third homer in as many games. It’s gonna be extra fun when Bruce Bochy comes up with an excuse to bench him next time. I’m gonna go with “those homers are rally-killers” or some variation on that theme.

Padres 6, Mariners 2: The sweep. Edinson Volquez allowed one run and four hits while pitching into the seventh. Overall, Padres starters basically shut down the M’s lineup. Good for them and all, but I hope the pitching doesn’t continue to be good. Because I’ll be at the Padres-Rangers game with my kids on Monday night and if anyone takes a no-hitter late, I can totally see my kids being all like “can we GO?” At which point I’ll put them up for adoption.

Reds sign Ryan Raburn to minor league deal

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 10:  Ryan Raburn #6 of the Colorado Rockies rounds the bases on his solo home run off of James Shields #33 of the San Diego Padres to take a 4-2 lead in the seventh inning on April 10, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Padres 6-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Veteran infielder/outfielder Ryan Raburn has a minor league contract with the Reds, the club announced on Sunday. The deal was reported last week, but had been pending a physical. It includes an invitation to spring training, where Raburn is expected to compete against Desmond Jennings for a major league utility role. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, there’s a $900,000 base salary waiting for him if he makes the big league roster by Opening Day.

Raburn, 35, is coming off of a down year with the Rockies in 2016. He slashed .220/.309/.404 for the team last season, clubbing nine home runs as he struggled to stay above the Mendoza line. Raburn was stationed in left field for much of the season, but also saw some time at DH, first base and right field toward the end of the year. Assuming he can turn out a production rate that skews closer to the .301 average and .936 OPS he put up with the Indians in 2015, however, the Reds should have little trouble finding a place for him off the bench or as a platoon option with Scott Schebler in right field.

Dexter Fowler unhappy with President Trump’s attempts to institute a travel ban

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 01:  Dexter Fowler #24 of the Chicago Cubs looks on during the first inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game Six of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 1, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Mark Saxon reports that new Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler isn’t a fan of President Trump’s ongoing effort to institute a travel ban. Trump signed Executive Order 13769 on January 27, 2017, which limited incoming travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. However, a temporary restraining order was placed by Judge James L. Robart following Washington v. Trump.

Fowler’s wife was born in Iran. Fowler said that her sister delayed her return from a business trip to Qatar to avoid potentially being detained. Fowler and his wife have also delayed traveling to visit her relatives in Iran.

Fowler said, “It’s huge. Especially any time you’re not able to see family, it’s unfortunate.”

The response by Cardinals fans was predictably terrible. Via the BestFansStLouis Twitter account:

One of the commenters wrote, “He signed a contract with the Cardinals so that makes him property of stl cardinals and mlb so he needs to keep his mouth shut. His personal opinions, problems, beliefs and political views should be kept to himself as long as he’s under a mlb contract…” He continued, “It’s not our fault he married someone from another country.”

Fowler caught wind of this and other responses to his statement, so he tweeted:

Fowler, of course, is one thousand percent correct.

These same “stick to sports,” “keep your politics out of my sports” people either said nothing or cheered when athletes and coaches espoused political views from the other side of the spectrum. Like when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady hung a “Make America Great Again” hat in his locker. Or when reliever Jonathan Papelbon played a pro-Trump song in the clubhouse. Or when former NFL head coach and ESPN commentator Mike Ditka said last year, “Obama’s the worst president we’ve ever had.”

Even Saxon and Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have received myriad “stick to sports” comments simply for acknowledging that Fowler made a comment on the matter.

As we’ve pointed out here countless times, it is impossible to separate sports from politics. It is irresponsible to pretend like it’s even possible. Sports and politics intersect in so many ways, including race, religion, gender, sexuality, and class. This particular situation with Trump’s executive order impacts baseball quite a bit as Fowler’s individual situation shows. He’s certainly not the only player to have a loved one who came from one of the seven aforementioned countries. Non-white players are also much more likely to have a bad experience at the airport — consider how often players are at the airport during the season — and their family and friends may be subject to one of the many ugly ICE raids that have taken place over the last three weeks.

Kudos to Fowler for speaking up and kudos for Saxon and others for reporting on it. This is certainly not a time during which we should pretend we can keep sports and politics separate.