Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Ryan Howard played in a major league game last night for the first time since rupturing his left Achilles tendon on the final out of the NLDS against the Cardinals last October. However, his return wasn’t enough to save the Phillies, as they fell 5-0 to the Braves.

Howard was greeted with a rousing standing ovation by the Philadelphia faithful for his first at-bat of the season in the second inning and responded with  long drive to center field. It landed on the warning track between Michael Bourn and Jason Heyward as Howard gently galloped his way to second base. He added a looping single to shallow center field in the seventh and finished the night 2-for-4.

The game was actually scoreless until the top of the eighth inning, when Antonio Bastardo walked Freddie Freeman with the bases loaded to force in a run. The very next batter, Brian McCann, hit a grand slam to center field to give the Braves some breathing room. Tim Hudson tossed seven innings of shutout ball in the win, despite not striking out a batter.

The Phillies are just 1-8 since the return of Chase Utley (and 0-1 since the return of Howard) and now sit at 37-48 on the season. This is the first time the club has been 11 games under .500 since June 5, 2002. The clock is ticking.

Your Friday box scores:

Giants 6, Pirates 5

Rays 10, Indians 3

Royals 2, Tigers 4

Rockies 5, Nationals 1

Yankees 10, Red Sox 8

Cubs 8, Mets 7

Twins 5, Rangers 1

Brewers 7, Astros 1

Blue Jays 2, White Sox 4

Marlins 3, Cardinals 2

Mariners 1, Athletics 4

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 5

Orioles 3, Angels 2

Reds 6, Padres 0

A-Rod to join ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth

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Alex Rodriguez’s post-retirement renaissance continues apace. After starring as a studio host for Fox’s playoff coverage over the past couple of years, A-Rod is about to be named to, arguably, televised baseball’s top job: color commentary in ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball booth.

Michael McCarthy of The Sporting News is hearing that ESPN is going to give the gig, vacated by Aaron Boone by virtue of his hiring by the Yankees, to Rodriguez. There he’ll join Jessica Mendoza and whoever they get to replace play-by-play man Dan Shulman, who chose to step back from the Sunday night job following last season. This, by the way, marks the second time A-Rod has taken over Aaron Boone’s job given that he replaced Boone at third base for the Yankees in 2004.

The twist: A-Rod is likely to keep his Fox postseason job too. While some broadcasters work for multiple networks, it’s pretty rare for Fox to allow its talents to work for competitors like that. Apparently they believe keeping A-Rod — who five years ago was one of the most despised figures in baseball — is worth it. What a difference a few years makes.

In other news, Alex Rodriguez is likely to be shunned mightily by the current crop of BBWAA voters when he hits the Hall of Fame ballot in a couple of years. At the rate he’s going, though, their successors will put him in Cooperstown via the Ford Frick Award sometime in the 2040s.