And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Holy moley, an awful lot of big news happened overnight. Ramirez a Dodger? Cole Hamels almost remaining with Philly? There were even some games!

Athletics 7, Blue Jays 2: The A’s are streaking. That’s six in a row. Derek Norris hit a two-run homer and Yoenis Cespedes drove in three with a single. The A’s success at this juncture of the season is almost as surprising as me learning that the late Sherman Hemsley was into 1970s prog rock and LSD and was all kinds of crazy and different than you’d imagine. Seriously. I have no idea how to process this information. It was bad enough when I realized yesterday that he was younger than I am now when “The Jeffersons” premiered.

Phillies 7, Brewers 6: The second straight day the Phillies rip the Brewers’ hearts out. Or the Brewers choked their guts out. Depends on your point of view. Zack Greinke was fantastic for seven innings, allowing one run and even hitting a homer of his own.  But then the bullpen came in, giving the Phillies a six-run eight inning. Milwaukee: trade Zack Greinke because you’re out of it and you need to get something for him. But also trade him out of basic human compassion.

Cardinals 8, Dodgers 2: The Dodgers stopped streaking as Clayton Kershaw was rocked for eight runs in five and two-thirds. Adam Wainwright [all together now] helped his own cause with an RBI double and taking a walk with the bases loaded.

White Sox 11, Twins 4: Adam Dunn went 3 for 5 with a double a homer and drove in four. Josh Willingham hit two bombs but that’s all the Twins could muster.

Reds 4, Astros 2: What a depressing night for the Astros. First they trade away one of their last bona fide major leaguers in Wandy Rodriguez and then they go and blow a one-run lead in the ninth. Will the last person remaining in Minute Maid Park turn out the lights?

Braves 4, Marlins 3: Jason Heyward hit a sac fly and later singled home Martin Prado to break a 3-3 tie in the seventh. After a shaky start Tim Hudson was solid, retiring the last 16 batters he faced. I suppose now that they’re selling off players that it’s worth watching to see when the Marlins have officially given up on the field.

Red Sox 2, Rangers 1: Clay Buchholz gave the Red Sox a much needed solid start, allowing one run over seven. He didn’t get the win — Vicente Padilla got that when Mike Aviles broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI single in the ninth — but the Sox needed that kind of outing from a starter.

Nationals 5, Mets 2: R.A. Dickey’s 11-game winning streak is over, though he did strike out Bryce Harper three times, which was fun. Gio Gonzalez notched his 13th win to match Dickey, pitching his longest game in two months.

Indians 3, Tigers 2:  The Indians are 6-1 against the Tigers this year. Too bad they can’t play ’em all season long.

Cubs 5, Pirates 1: Paul Maholm is en fuego. He won his fifth straight start, beating his old team which had been rumored to maybe want to trade for him again before snagging Wandy Rodriguez. Maholm has allowed just four earned runs in 38 and a third innings in that winning streak.

Rays 4, Orioles 1: In contrast to good streaks like Maholm’s and good streaks ending like Dickey’s, Jeremy Hellickson has had a bad streak: he had’t gotten a win in nine straight starts.  Well, that changed last night. He gave up one run and three hits in six and a third and didn’t walk anyone.

Mariners 4, Yankees 2: Bad night for A-Rod. His 2000th career strikeout followed by a broken hand. Oh, and since he was in Seattle, he was booed mercilessly. Splendid.

Giants 3, Padres 2: Angel Pagan may have made the play of the year to end the eighth and then Brandon Crawford delivered the game-winning hit in the ninth. Pablo Sandoval left the game after three innings with a left hamstring strain while stretching for a ball at first base.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 2: Five straight wins for Arizona. Joe Saunders allowed only three hits and a walk over seven innings while striking out nine.

Royals 4, Angels 1: Will Smith shut down the Angels. Later today several hack headline writers and highlight show anchors will be fined $100 each for saying he “got jiggy with it.”

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.