Pittsburgh Pirates v Arizona Diamondbacks

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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I spent the evening seeing a preview showing of the Jackie Robinson movie, “42,” — review coming later today — so I didn’t get to watch really any baseball. Kinda glad I didn’t too. After seeing and thinking about Robinson I would have probably just thrown something at my TV if I had to watch someone not totally kicking butt and putting the fear of God into opposing pitchers when on base.

But the games, as they always do, still went on.

Diamondbacks 10, Pirates 2: Have yourself a day, A.J. Pollock. He homered twice, doubled and drove in four. He also made a diving catch in center field. And you were proud of yourself for only hitting the snooze button once.

Nationals 5, White Sox 2: This game was delayed 15 minutes because the umpires were stuck in traffic. Really. This a day after Denard Span tweeted about being stuck in traffic on the way to Nationals Park. Perhaps the Nationals ought to invest in some dorms near the park or something. Keep people from having to fight D.C. traffic. Or perhaps everyone involved needs to realize that this isn’t 2009 anymore and people actually go to Nationals games.

Cardinals 10, Reds 0: Jake Westbrook tosses a shutout. Not that he needed to. He lost that first game of the season 1-0, but he still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 2013. Four homers for Cardinals hitters. Including one from Matt Adams, who is 9 for 14 with four extra base hits on the year.

Giants 10, Rockies 0: Barry Zito: superstar. Seven shutout innings plus he went 2 for 3 with an RBI. It’s gonna be awesome when, in the event he falls short of 200 innings and his 2014 option does not vest, the Giants pick it up anyway because, at long last, he has actually earned part of the contract everyone says is the worst ever. It’s wrong to talk about someone who “persevered” while being massively overpaid for so long, but give Zito credit for not quitting and phoning it in when a lot of others would have. Unless this is just a mirage and he returns to 2011 form soon, in which case let’s just forget we had this conversation.

Phillies 7, Mets 3: Domonic Brown and Chase Utley homered in a five-run first inning that put this one away early. Good to see a prospect some didn’t think would ever get a chance and a veteran some thought was washed up coming through in the early going.

Blue Jays 8, Tigers 6: The Tigers led this one 6-1 in the fifth inning. Viva la Bullpen. Well, that and Viva La One Inning Too Many for Rick Porcello. Which, when your bullpen stinks, stretching your starters is something that may be understandable for a manager. When is Jose Valverde getting here again? Big hits for Edwin Encarnacion — check this one out, by the way, as it was awesome — Mark De Rosa and J.P. Arencibia.

Rays 2, Rangers 0: It was 39 degrees at game time. In Texas. It hit 80 up here in Ohio. Go home weather. You are drunk. Matt Moore and four relievers combine on the shutout.

Orioles 8, Red Sox 5: A five-run rally capped by a three-run Manny Machado home run ruined this one for the few Red Sox fans who stuck around for the ninth inning. Let’s see if, after a week of talking about how fun and likable this Red Sox team is, Boston writers and radio yakkers decide that Sox closer Joel Hanrahan is a villain or something.

Braves 8, Marlins 0: Atlanta with its second straight sweep. The sweep-ees were the odds-on favorite to be the worst two teams in the National League, but wins are wins. The Marlins have scored 16 runs in nine games.

Royals 3, Twins 0: And … the sweep. Billy Butler and Jeff Francoeur homered. I feel like today is going to be “how ’bout them Royals!” day among national columnists looking for something to write about.

Athletics 11, Angels 5: Brandon Moss drove in five and homered for the second night in a row. That’s seven straight wins for the A’s who are showing that last year’s formula — lots of homers and lots of people wondering why the A’s are so good — is still intact.

Astros 8, Mariners 3: Chris Carter and Rick Ankiel each hit two-run homers. It’s gonna be funny if Safeco Field, long one of the best pitchers’ parks in the game, suddenly becomes Coors Northwest. The Astros scored 24 runs on 37 hits in the past two games.

Dodgers 4, Padres 3: Homer for Carl Crawford. Who is hitting .464./.531/.714 in 32 plate appearances. Crawford returning to form or, at the very least, respectability, was one of the many not-at-all-certain-to-be-filled prerequisites for the Dodgers to go from being a great team on paper to a great team, so that’s good.

Yankees vs. Indians: POSTPONED: The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down. Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down.

Brewers vs. Cubs: POSTPONED: Bottle eyes, glassy blue, I watch the rain come out of you. Sky is white with the flu, I’m terrified of losing you. If I go to the sea, I’ll bring you down, down with me. If I go to the rain, you’ll never see me again. You’ve got cold girl fever.

Oakland A’s officials taking a tour of a possible waterfront ballpark site

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  A Maersk Line container ship sits docked in a berth  at the Port of Oakland on February 19, 2015 in Oakland, California. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) longshoremen at the Port of Oakland took the day shift off today to attend a union meeting amidst ongoing contract negotiations between dockworkers and terminal operators at west coast ports. The port closure, the seventh one this month, has left 12 container ships stuck at the dock with no workers to load and unload them. The ILWU members at 29 West Coast ports have been without a contract for 9 months. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Oakland Athletics’ ballpark saga has gone on for years now, with false starts in Fremont and San Jose, lawsuits and seemingly interminable talks with the City of Oakland over a new place on the current Coliseum site. That’s all complicated, of course, by the presence of the Raiders, on whose address — be it Oakland, Las Vegas or someplace else — the A’s future is still largely contingent.

The city has tried to get the A’s interested in a waterfront site for several years now. There are a lot of problems with that due mostly to zoning and regulatory matters, as well as proximity to transit and other practical concerns. The artist’s renderings are often pretty, but it takes more than artist’s renderings to make a good ballpark plan.

But no one is giving up on that and, it seems, even the A’s are willing to at least listen to such proposals now:

Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.”

Guess it ain’t so “hush-hush” anymore. As with all Oakland ballpark stories, however, feel free to continue snoozing until someone gives us a real reason to wake up.

Note: The above photo is from the Port of Oakland. I have no idea what the proximity of the working part of the city’s port is to where they’d build a ballpark, but I used this picture because I love the story about how George Lucas spotted those things from an airplane as he was leaving Oakland or San Francisco or whatever and used them as inspiration for the AT-AT Imperial Walkers in “Empire Strikes Back.” Which may be a totally aprocyphal story, but one I love so much that I told it to my kids when we flew in to Oakland back in June and will choose to believe despite whatever evidence you provide.

Wade Davis? Greg Holland? Who needs ’em?

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 21: Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws in the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Kauffman Stadium on August 21, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The story of the two-time defending AL champion and current defending World Series champ Kansas City Royals cannot be told without talking at length about their bullpen.

In 2014, Wade Davis, Greg Holland and Kelvin Herrera formed a shutdown brigade that not only made it next to impossible for the opposition to mount late rallies, but managed something which seemed utterly impossible before 2014: they turned Ned Yost into a tactical genius. Indeed, the only time Yost got criticism at all that fall was when he messed with the autopilot formula that had that three-headed monster handling the 7th, 8th and 9th innings.

Much the same happened in 2015, of course, despite Holland’s sharp decline and eventual injury. Davis and Herrera continued their dominance. They were joined by Ryan Madson and a cast of other effective relievers who, along with timely hitting, great defense and good health, helped propel the Royals to the title.

This year had not been quite the same story. Holland has been out all year and Davis, while effective when he’s pitched, has missed time due to injury. As has longtime contributor and presumptive next-man-up Luke Hochevar. Herrera is basically still Herrera, but Ned Yost has been presented with a decidedly different set of choices. Lots of choices and Ned Yost don’t always go together well, but lately that hasn’t mattered.

Last night the Royals’ bullpen came in to a close game and tossed three scoreless innings. That set a franchise record with 32 straight scoreless frames, besting the previous record set back in the club’s inaugural season in 1969. The streak is a huge part of why the Royals have won nine games in a row.

Unlike the success of 2014-15, the streak is not a three-man show. As Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star notes, eight different relievers have appeared for Kansas City during the streak, with Joakim Soria and Matt Strahm leading the crew with five and a third innings pitched. Herrera has tossed five scoreless. Otherwise it’s been a group effort with even Peter Moylan offering a couple of scoreless frames. And here you thought Moylan was, I dunno, gearing up for the upcoming Brisbane Bandits season. Nope.

The Royals are still not, in my view anyway, a lock to make the postseason. It’s a a crowded field right now. They’re seven and a half back in the AL Central and four back in the Wild Card with a bunch of teams in front of them. But they’re certainly playing themselves back into the conversation. They’re interesting. And they’re doing it in much the same way they’ve done it the past two years. Only with different dudes doing the do.