Miami Marlins  v Tampa Bay Rays

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights


Rays 10, Marlins 6: Two three-run homers for Kelly Johnson. He also singled, doubled and stole a base. He has 24 RBI in 21 games in May. Six straight losses for the Marlins despite what was, for them anyway, an offensive outburst.

Tigers 6, Pirates 5: While it was his second win in a row this one was way better, personally speaking, for Justin Verlander. Thirteen strikeouts and three runs over seven innings.

Orioles 6, Nationals 2: Fifteen hits for the O’s and a nice start for Jason Hammel in the first of a weird, four-game home-and-home series in four days for Baltimore and Washington. Davey Johnson vowed not to shave until the Nats’ bats “came alive.” At this rate he’s going to look like Billy Gibbons before it’s all over.

Astros 3, Rockies 2: A walkoff ground rule double for Brandon Barnes in the 12th. The Rockies stranded 15 runners in this one. That’s, like, more than two Gilligan’s Islands worth of castaways.

Reds 4, Indians 2: Joey Votto hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth off Nick Hagadone, who was just called up from Columbus. Shoulda stayed here in Columbus, man. It’s so much safer here.

Cardinals 6, Royals 3: Yadier Molina homered and drove in four. Meanwhile, Adam Wainwright scattered 12 hits over eight innings. If you can call 12 in 8 a “scattering” as opposed to the Royals simply squandering multiple opportunities.

Twins 6, Brewers 3: Joe Mauer hit a homer that was reviewed and upheld on replay for the second time in three days. He’s just not a big fan of the human element.

Athletics 4, Giants 1: Dan Straily with his second straight strong start, allowing one run over six innings. Madison Bumgarner was shaky. Four in a row for the A’s.

Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 3Diamondbacks 5, Rangers 4: Tyler Skaggs struck out nine in six innings in the first one. Yu Darvish strikes out 14 in seven and two-thirds in the nightcap. The difference: Skaggs won his start while Darvish got the no-decision thanks to a ninth inning RBI single by Cliff Pennington.

Mariners 9, Padres 0: Aaron Harang with a four-hit shutout and his best start in four years. Not that he needed it thanks to the M’s bats. Homers from Jason Bay and Michael Morse, among other destruction.

Mets 2, Yankees 1: A rare late-innings failure for the Yankees bullpen. Not that they had a huge margin for error, but still. Daniel Murphy with an RBI single to center off Dave Robertson in the eighth. It was the first time in 23 games the Yankees lost when leading after six.

Blue Jays 9, Braves 3: Five driven in for Edwin Encarnacion. Rookie reliever Cory Rasmus got mop-up duty for Atlanta and gave up an RBI double to his brother Colby. Which wasn’t very nice. Not all good for Toronto, though, as Brett Lawrie left with a sprained ankle.

Cubs 7, White Sox 0: Jeff Samardzija with a two-hit shutout. And like Harang’s gem, he didn’t have to do it given what the bats did. Two RBI a piece for Julio Borbon, Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano.

Red Sox 9, Phillies 3: Tyler Cloyd couldn’t make it out of the third inning and Alfredo Aceves didn’t stink for once. The Sox have won 10 of 13 and have taken sole possession of first in the east.

Dodgers 8, Angels 7: The eight-game winning streak is over. Not that the Dodgers made it easy on themselves. The Dodgers were down 6-1, thanks in part to numerous defensive miscues early — many not called errors — which helped Anaheim build their lead. Adrian Gonzalez remains hot. Even Juan Uribe got into the act, going 3 for 3 after coming in late as a pinch hitter.

Kudos to Fox for not going crazy with the curses

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I turned on last night’s Fox broadcast fully expecting them to spend too much time on history and curses and billy goats and black cats and Steve Bartman and 1908 and 1948 and all of that jive while spending too little time on the game and the players at hand. I will admit now that I was pleasantly surprised that that was not, in fact, the case.

To be clear, the pregame show was a friggin’ train wreck in this department. There the narrative framing was basically wall-to-wall. In the first segment, Fox studio host Kevin Burkhardt used the phrase “reverse the curse” within his first thirty seconds of speaking. Then, before much if any actual game stuff was referred to, Burkhardt mentioned all of the following things in the space of a, maybe, 45 second span:

When the montage ended, Alex Rodriguez said that “every player wants to break that curse.” Then they threw it to the first commercial at 7:38 or so. In the second segment they ran a prerecorded thing about championship droughts, making liberal mention of 108 years for the Cubs and 68 years for the Indians, but then got down to some actual game breakdown.

In the third segment, Burkhardt threw it to the P.A. announcer at Progressive Field for player introductions, once again mentioning 108/68 years as he did so. After that, they ran a montage, set to Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers’ “The Waiting,” in which centenarians and other older folks talked about how long they’ve been — wait for it — waiting for an Indians or a Cubs championship. Lots of them mentioned billy goats and curses and stuff.

When that was over Fox finally threw it to Joe Buck and John Smoltz up in the booth. Buck added a punctuative “the waiting is the hardest part,” and soon after they ran a Buck-narrated pre-produced montage about what was going on in 1908 and 1948, saying who was president, noting when Model-Ts were invented and all of that, all set to “Time has come today” by the Chambers Brothers. So, yes, that was a lot to take in in the space of a half hour.

But that’s on me, right? Who in the heck needs to watch a pregame show? No one, really. Alex Rodriguez and Pete Rose are proving to be a nice combination for Fox — getting rid of C.J. Nitkowski has cleared the congestion a bit and both A-Rod and Rose are proving to be naturals after a 2015 in which they were somewhat clunky — but a pregame show is pretty superfluous. The actual baseball breakdown those guys provide can be accomplished in less than ten minutes. The rest of it practically begs for those narrative-servicing montages, and frankly, no one needs ’em.

Most notably, though: the curse and weight of history talk basically ended once the game got going. Indeed, Buck and Smoltz were shockingly and refreshingly narrative-free for most if not all of the contest. They talked about Jon Lester and his issues holding runners. Corey Kluber‘s slider. Andrew Miller being Andrew Miller. Kyle Schwarber being there at all. They did a really nice job of handling all of the Xs and Os the way you want your broadcast booth to handle it.

Smoltz in particular was outstanding, showing that Fox’s decision to make him their number one color guy while reassigning Harold Reynolds and Tom Verducci to be a fantastic one. A two-man booth is superior to a three-man booth in almost every instance, but the second man in Fox’s booth now mixes his insight and his regular conversation seamlessly. You never feel like Smoltz is talking down to you or speaking from his obviously superior place of baseball authority. His tone is as if he’s letting you in on stuff he thinks and hopes you’ll really appreciate knowing and he never plays the “I USED TO PLAY BASEBALL” card in the obnoxious ways some ex-player commentators do. And he’s right: we do appreciate what he tells us.

Beating up on Fox’s baseball broadcasts has been its own sport for many of us for several years, but there was nothing to really beat them up about last night. Sure, we could do without in-game interviews, but after the pregame show Fox showed remarkable restraint with respect to pushing history and narrative and curses and all of that baloney that has little if anything to do with the 2016 Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians. They kept it focused on the baseball game that was going on before us in ways they haven’t always done in the past. It was refreshing and, dare I say, downright enjoyable.

More of this please.

Republicans accuse Hillary Clinton of being a bandwagon Cubs fan

CHICAGO - APRIL 4:  Hillary Rodham Clinton throws out the first pitch before the Chicago Cubs Opening Day game against the New York Mets at Wrigley Field on April 4, 1994 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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This was inevitable: The Republican National Committee published a ridiculously detailed and self-serious opposition-research report accusing Hillary Clinton of being a “bandwagon” Cubs fan.

If you’re of a certain age you’ll recall that Clinton, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, spoke about being a Cubs fan as a kid. You’ll also recall that when she was running for her senate seat in New York, she gave shoutouts to a heretofore unheard of Yankees fandom. A lot of people have had fun with this at various times — we’ve mentioned it here on multiple occasions — but I wasn’t aware that anyone considered it an actually substantive political issue as opposed to an amusing “politicians, man” kind of thing.

The Republicans think it’s serious, though. Indeed, there’s more detail to this oppo-hit than there is any of the party’s candidate’s position papers. And while someone could, theoretically, have a lot of fun with this kind of material, the opposition report is not even remotely tongue-in-cheek. It reads like a poisition paper on nuclear proliferation. If the GOP had been this serious about vetting its own candidate, I suspect they wouldn’t be in the position they’re in today.

As for the substance: eh, who cares? Sports is entertainment and cultural glue. As a kid in Chicago, being a Cubs fan is both fun and makes some sense. As a senator from New York in the early 2000s, you’re gonna get to go to some Yankees games and sit in some good seats and that’s fun too. And, of course, politicians are going to say opportunistic things in order to attempt to connect with their constituents. Think of that what you will, but if you think of that as something which reveals something deep and dark within their soul about what kind of person they are, you probably need to step away from the cable news for a while and get some fresh air. Or you probably need to admit that you already believed the worse about her and that this is just an exercise in confirmation bias.

Heck, at this point I almost hope she finds a third or fourth team to root for. Indeed, I hope she makes a comic heel turn, puts on a Chief Wahoo hat for tonight’s game and claims that, deep, deep down, she had always rooted for the Indians. Then even I could get on her case about it. And we could all talk about how, in her own way, Hillary was really bringing the nation together.