And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 12, Yankees 2: This one was over almost before it started, with Phil Hughes getting knocked around for seven runs in the first inning, which he did not escape. Raul Ibanez hit two homers and drove in six off his old team. Which, I imagine, will cause some columnist who has been lauding Brian Cashman for putting together a chemistry-laden scappy bunch of no-names this past offseason to change gears and talk about how much of a mistake it was for him not to re-sign Ibanez.

Cardinals 4, Mets 2: Shelby Miller didn’t get the decision and wasn’t particularly sharp, but he did pitch five and two-thirds shutout innings and left with a lead. Rick Ankiel, like Ibanez,  hit a homer against his former team. He said this after the game:

“It’s unfortunate we didn’t win but for me it’s a positive, so I’m happy about it,” Ankiel said. “For me it was just fun to do because it was against that team.”

Yeah, you really want to stick it to that team if you’re Ankiel. I mean, after all they did to him, sticking with him for years while he completely transformed himself in the minors and dealt with multiple career-threatening injuries when just about every other team would’ve released him. Yep, they really had it comin’.

Rangers 6, Athletics 2: Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer and made this diving catch off Brandon Moss. Not too shabby. Also not shabby: Texas has a seven game lead in the division despite the fact they’ve played 25 of their 40 games on the road.

Diamondbacks 5, Braves 3: Paul Goldschmidt hit three doubles and Eric Chavez drove in three as the Braves lose yet again. They probably need to win a few in a row sometime soon or else the thing I’m comforting myself with — that this team is gonna be streaky — is not going to be true. They’re just gonna be kinda blah.

White Sox 9, Twins 4: Who woke up Adam Dunn? He hit two homers and drove in five. But now he’s gonna be up all night and that’s no good.

Indians 10, Phillies 4: Cole Hamels is now 1-6 with a 4.61 ERA after being beat up by Cleveland. But at least Carlos Zambrano will be around soon to help out the pitching staff.

Astros 7, Tigers 5:  Carlos Corporan hit a tiebreaking double in the top of the ninth and Miguel Cabrera’s would-be game-winning three run home run fell just short of the wall in the bottom of the ninth to end the game. Houston finally wins one against a Tigers team which has abused them in two straight series.

Padres 8, Orioles 4: San Diego sweeps Baltimore in the two-game series behind a 17-hit attack. The Padres are now 13-6 in their last 19. A nice bounceback after dropping all three against Tampa Bay.

Reds 4, Marlins 0: Shin-Soo Choo with two homers. He’s hitting .322/.465/.589 with nine bombs on the season. Mercy.

Pirates 3, Brewers 1: Yovani Gallardo was 7-0 in his last eight starts against the Pirates, but Wandy Rodriguez outdueled him.

Cubs 6, Rockies 3: Jeff Samardzija pulls a Baseball Bugs, hitting a two-run homer and pitching eight strong innings.

Red Sox 9, Rays 2: A costly loss for the Rays as they drop not only the game but lose David Price to an injured triceps (or is it tricepts?). Meanwhile, Jon Lester improves to 6-0. Stephen Drew hit a grand slam.

Dodgers 3, Nationals 1: Zack Greinke was apparently ready to return. He allowed one run in five and a third and didn’t walk anyone while striking out four. He added an RBI single to boot.

Blue Jays 11, Giants 3: Shh! Four in a row for the Jays. If they keep this up and climb back into contention a lot of early-season memes will be obsolete, eh? Ryan Vogelsong gets rocked again. He may lose his slot in the rotation.

Royals 9, Angels 5: The Angels seem less into meme-busting, as they drop two of three to the Royals. Billy Butler came into Anaheim in a slump. Then went 8-for-13 with a homer and nine RBI in the series. They must serve some good country breakfast in Orange County.

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.