New York Mets' Valdespin celebrates after hitting grand-slam walk-off home run off Los Angeles Dodgers' Wall in MLB game in New York

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 7, Dodgers 3: Jordany Valdespin with a walkoff grand slam. See, good things happen when he doesn’t try to bunt.

Reds 1, Cubs 0: Mat Latos tossed seven shutout innings and Broxton and Chapman finished it off. Tough luck for Jeff Samardzija who struck out eight in six innings, but he’s gonna have to get used to tough luck pitching for these Cubs.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: The first extra innings loss for Baltimore in over a year. That covered 17 instances of free baseball. Oh well, luck comes and goes. Well, maybe it wasn’t luck: the winning run came when Jim Johnson walked Maicer Izturis with the bases loaded, but still.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2: The sweep. Stephen Strasburg had a rough first inning, but then he settled down and kept his team in the game, only to watch as Washington whiffed and ran its way out of a couple of would-be rallies. Strasburg’s record now stands at 1-4.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Alex Rios hit a two-run homer to help the Chisox earn a split. I’m not sure who let Zach McAllister leave the Columbus, Ohio he and I are so accustomed to, but he walked five and allowed five hits in five and two-thirds innings. Come back home, Zach. We’ll go get some  paella at Barcelona and then some Jeni’s ice cream, maybe, and we’ll never make you lave Franklin County again.

Rockies 6, Braves 5: I left for an early dinner reservation just as Fredi Gonzalez sent Jordan Schafer home on a botched squeeze play while up 5-3 and one out in the ninth. I figure that Gonzalez was tired of seeing the Braves hit the ball all over the ballpark without any of his own input and felt like he had to justify his existence by managing the hell out of that little situation.  If he had let Coors Field’s nature take its course I’m guessing one of the next two batters could have or would have hit the ball in the air to score Schafer anyway, the game wouldn’t have been tied after nine and the Rockies would not have been able to mount this comeback win.  And yes, if you think this is just some long distraction enabling me to overlook the fact that Craig Kimbrel coughed up two runs in the ninth, well, you’re right.

Astros 10, Mariners 3: Baseball has 162 games and rarely does any one game matter or even mean anything all that much. But dudes, you just got scorched by the Astros. Three homers for Houston, who have four wins against Seattle in six meetings this year. They’ve only won seven overall.

Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Brandon Crawford his a homer in the ninth to tie it, but Arizona won it on a sac fly and is now 5-0 in extra innings games this year. The new Orioles or something.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 5: David Ortiz had two hits and an RBI. Stephen Drew hit an RBI triple. Boston has won nine of 12. Oh, and they sent Alfredo Aceves down to Pawtucket after this one, so it’s like a total exorcism of that 13-0 loss the other night.

Tigers 7, Royals 5: Jose Valverde comes back and gets a save on his first try out. Victor Martinez drove in two. Welcome to 2011.

Rays 3, Yankees 0: Alex Cobb was dominant (8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K), allowing only three singles. Not sure what beat writers do in games like this when there’s really only one thing to talk about. I only have to write, like, three or four sentences. They have a whole story to fill. Maybe they can just CTRL-V “Alex Cobb” over and over again like the restaurant scene in “Being John Malkovich” or something.

Pirates 5, Phillies 3: Roy Halladay allowed only one hit and struck out eight in six innings and Ryan Howard and Chase Utley hit big booming homers. That used to mean an easy Philly win, but we’re a long way from 2010. Brandon Inge came and hit a pinch hit RBI single to tie it in the eighth because of course he did. Then Starling Marte tripled in a run in the ninth as part of a four-run Philly bullpen failure.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: Texas with a nine-run fourth inning put this one away pretty early. Nelson Cruz with a three-run homer. Lance Berkman drove in four. Yu Darvish wins the Run Support Award for the night. The pitchers in the Angels part of the box score look like a list of names from the witness protection program.

Padres 2, Brewers 1: I suppose Milwaukee had to lose eventually. I didn’t think Edinson Volquez would go seven innings without walking anyone eventually, but I’ll be damned if he didn’t.

Mets owners get some breathing room on their Bernie Madoff settlement payments

New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon stands on the field before baseball's Game 3 of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Associated Press
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For years the central fact of life of the New York Mets has been that their owners, the Wilpon family and Saul Katz, lost a ton of money after investing it with friend and business partner Bernard Madoff, perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. It has hampered their payroll and led to huge amounts of borrowing and restructuring that, before last year’s pennant run, seemed like it’d be a millstone on the Mets competitive prospects for years to come.

In addition to losing money, it was later determined that Katz and the Wilpons unfairly gained in some other respects and thus they ended up having their phony earnings clawed back via a settlement with the trustee managing the fallout of the Madoff scandal.  The upshot: the Wilpons and Katz, in addition to their losses, were ordered to pay nearly $60 million dollars back, half payable this week, half payable next year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to fork over and this week’s payment loomed large.

Now, however, Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Wilpons and Katz will get some breathing room. Specifically, they have modified their agreement with the trustee and some of the owed money has been deferred. Instead of some $29 million payable this week, they will only have to pay $16 million. The remainder will be paid in four installments — from 2017 through 2020 — with an interest rate of 3.5 percent on the unpaid balance, Rubin says.

Now, there obviously was no promise that the $13 million saved this week be invested in the baseball team, but it’s probably a good thing overall for the Mets if their owners’ debt payments are reduced a bit.

Mike Napoli hit a homer for a fan with cancer

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 30: Mike Napoli #26 of the Cleveland Indians rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Progressive Field on May 30, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Last night a fan named Kathi Heintzelman showed up at Progressive Field in Cleveland with a sign asking Indians first baseman Mike Napoli to hit a home run for her and to give her a hug. But there was a reason beyond her love for Mike Napoli. She’s starting chemotherapy today and the hug and homer would be a nice thing.  Hard to disagree with that, even if everyone knows that ballplayers can’t hit homers on demand.

Well, most players can’t. Mike Napoli did the easy part before the game, giving her a hug. Then in the sixth inning, he went yard:

 

Whether you believe that such things can be fated or if you merely acknowledge that Heintzelman asked Napoli for a homer at a good time — he’s on a hot streak right now and has hit bombs in four of his last 11 games — it’s a great story.

 

The Twins recall Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton
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Byron Buxton has been recalled from Triple-A Rochester by the Twins.

Buxton will replace Danny Santana, who was placed on the disabled list following a hamstring injury. But the bigger picture here is that Buxton will get a fresh go-around to show that he is the future of the Twins like so many assume he will be. The 22-year-old hasn’t hit so far in the majors, but he batted .336/.403/.603 with six homers, four steals, and a 26/11 K/BB ratio over 129 plate appearances after his demotion to Triple-A last month.

At this point the Twins, who stink on ice, need to just put their top young player in the game and let him learn to swim at the big league level rather than try to squeak out a few extra relatively meaningless wins with guys who won’t be part of the next contending Twins team.

92-year-old World War II vet throws a nifty ceremonial first pitch

Screen Shot 2016-05-31 at 9.04.09 AM
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Think of how many bad ceremonial first pitches you’ve seen. From the worm burners from local business owners and pillars of the community at minor league games to ex-big leaguers who obviously haven’t picked up a ball since they retired to the famous celebrity ones that go viral the next day, there are probably a lot more bad first pitches out there than good ones.

But when the good ones come, they’re really enjoyable. And few are more enjoyable than the one which preceded yesterday’s Padres-Mariners game in Seattle. The pitcher: Burke Waldron, a 92-year-old veteran of World War II. He did it in his dress whites. He ran out onto the field beforehand. And though his catcher didn’t set up the full 60 feet, six inches away from where Waldron threw it, it was still a spiffy pitch. Way better than most: