New York Mets starting pitcher R.A. Dickey reacts to the crowd after getting his 20th win of the season after the Mets defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates in their MLB National League baseball game at CitiField in New York

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 6, Pirates 5: R.A. Dickey wins his 20th, striking out 13 in the process. I don’t care if wins aren’t supposed to matter. It’s cool. He’s old and he struggled for years and he has no freaking ligament in his elbow and he seems like a pretty cool guy and all of that and I am happy as hell that he hit a milestone that, these days, is pretty rare.  Also: that Travis Snider catch in case you missed it. Dear God.

Tigers 5, Royals 4Because of events and things, I am officially no longer allowed to mention the Tigers’ starting pitcher’s name in print again. But suffice it to say, he did well.

Rays 3, White Sox 2: Rays playing spoiler? Bah, they could still make this dance. They have these games against the White Sox and then three against Baltimore. Meanwhile the Sox have lost three straight to fall two games behind the Tigers in the AL Central.  Gettin’ crazy.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: Two run homers for both Hunter Pence and Marco Scutaro and another solid start from Barry Zito. It’s the most wins Zito has had in a season since he signed his gigantic deal with the Giants. And the Giants have won ten straight of his starts.

Rockies 7, Cubs 5: Rockies sweep the Cubs behind a lot of hits and homers. I’m sorry, it’s September 28 and it’s really hard to get it up to say anything even quasi-insightful about a Cubs-Rockies series.

Mariners 9, Angels 4: John Jaso hit a two-run homer and an RBI double and the Angels lost a game they needed to win. Which is basically all of them now, of course, but still. Oakland lost and all, and it was a chance to gain some ground.

Rangers 9, Athletics 7: Despite Mike Adams’ best efforts — he gave up three homers in two-thirds of an inning — the Rangers prevail, splitting the series with the A’s. Jumping out to an early 5-0 lead helps matters.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: John Axford couldn’t hold a 1-0 lead in the ninth despite getting the first two outs. That’s not some colossal failure or anything, but dudes, if the bullpen held half of the number of leads a typical bullpen holds throughout the season the Brewers would be playoff bound.

Nationals 7, Phillies 3: Gio gets his 21st win. Two homers for Michael Morse. One for Bryce Harper.

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 0: More like Ivan NoGOOD, am I right? Anyone? Eh, ok. Maybe not (4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER). Brandon Morrow, in contrast, tossed seven shutout innings. Three runs driven in for Edwin Encarnacion. The Yankees lead is back down to 1.

Braves 6, Marlins 2: Miami continues to sleepwalk to the end of the season. Dan Uggla drove in three.

Dodgers 8, Padres 4: L.A. is now three games back of the Cardinals, but as is the case with everyone else in that boat, you basically gotta win every game left and hope the other guys lose every game and that’s just not happening.

Padres played the Dodgers late. I suppose I’ll update this when I wake up, but the world is ceasing to care at this point.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.