Groundhog Day

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 1, Tigers 0: Jim Leyland was in the Virgin Islands once. He met a girl. they ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, they made love like sea otters. That was a pretty good day. Why couldn’t he get that day over, and over, and over? Or, well, at least two out of three days. It’d be way better than 11-inning 1-0 losses constantly repeating.

Mets 3, Yankees 1: The Mets sweep the Yankees for the first time in Subway Series history. Dillon Gee struck out 12. The big question going forward: does this say more about the Mets or more about the Yankees?

Braves 11, Blue Jays 3: Ramiro Pena: run producer. Four RBI as he fills in for Dan Uggla. Jordan Schafer drove in two filling in for B.J. Upton. Evan Gattis went 3 for 4 and scored three times filling in for Jason Heyward. Team depth is something of a new concept for the Braves, but if the starters are going to continue to suck eggs, it’s a nice thing to have.

Red Sox 9, Phillies 2: Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and stole five bases — five! — off Erik Kratz and various Phillies pitchers. The team actually gave him a base after the game to honor the achievement. This came after a narrow team vote in favor of doing that rather than giving him Kratz’s head on a platter.

Giants 5, Athletics 2:  The Giants salvage one as Barry Zito got his first win in six starts. The Giants are now 7-0 when he pitches at AT&T Park and have won 13 of his home starts overall. Jon Heyman thinks it’s a shame that they can’t play all of their games there.

Indians 7, Reds 1: Clutch-sanity! Six straight two-out hits for the Indians gave them a seven-run fourth inning and, effectively, the ballgame. The Ohio teams split the series home and home. The Reds have dropped nine straight in Cleveland.

Mariners 7, Padres 1: Nick Franklin hit two homers, which were number one and number two of his career. Three other Mariners went deep, giving a demonstration of how differently Petco Park plays during the day. Felix Hernandez allowed only one run over eight innings.

Orioles 2, Nationals 0: Freddy Garcia tossed eight innings of three-hit, shutout ball on a hot and muggy day. Manny Machado had an RBI double. He’s got 25 freakin’ doubles already and is on pace for 75. He’s 20. Imagine this beast playing plus-defense at shortstop and hitting those doubles a tad higher and farther as he fills out.

Cubs 8, White Sox 3: Odd players achieving strange home run feats is the new inefficiency. On Wednesday a backup catcher hit three homers. Yesterday a pitcher — Travis Wood — hit a grand slam. Cubs pitchers have driven in 19 RBI in the month of May.

Rangers 9, Diamondbacks 5: Justin Grimm continues to roll along, giving up two earned runs in six innings. Brandon McCarthy had allowed only one run in 24 innings entering this one but the Rangers beat him up for six runs on nine hits in two and two-thirds.

Astros 7, Rockies 5: The game story said the Astros swept the Rockies “in this two-game series.” I thought of this week as teams having four-game series against one another, just split over two parks. The fact that the Mets were described as sweeping the Yankees and the Giants win yesterday was described as them “salvaging one” I figured everyone else was on board with this too. Oh well.

Royals 4, Cardinals 2: Kansas City rallies for three runs in the ninth to come from behind, snapping an eight-game losing streak. I presume this is all George Brett’s doing. The Royals got only four hits all game, but he told them to bunch ’em up in the ninth. There was a nearly five hour rain delay before during the ninth inning, so I’m sure that’s when he told them to get some hits. Hitting coaches are funny that way. For St. Louis: Michael Wacha had a stellar debut, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings.

Angels 3, Dodgers 2: A split in the Freeway Series. I know that Hardees/Carl’s Jr. and Edy’s/Dreyer’s ice cream use different names on each side of the Mississippi. Where is the “freeway-expressway” split? I feel like it’s much farther west than that. Anyone?

Twins 8, Brewers 6: Joe Mauer, Chris Parmelee, Brian Dozier and Ryan Doumit all hit homers on a night when the wind was blowing out.  Six straight losses for Milwaukee.

Rays 5, Marlins 2: The other day when I compared the Marlins and the 1962 Mets — the Mets had a better record through this point of the season than the Marlins do — I noted that there was room to make it up as the Mets had multiple extended losing streaks in front of them. The longest one I saw, however, was 11. The Marlins are now up to nine. I like the way they’re trying to get on top of this thing and salt the worst record in the history of baseball away early. That’s the kind of drive and gumption that team they had last year with all of its overpriced stars never would have shown.

Braves’ Markakis misses game because of family emergency

Nick Markakis, Nick Swisher
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NEW YORK (AP) Braves right fielder Nick Markakis has left the team because of a family emergency.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez said before Wednesday’s game against the Mets that Markakis had headed home to Maryland. The veteran is expected to be back in time for Friday’s home game against Arizona. Atlanta is off Thursday.

Chase d’Arnaud is starting in right field and Mallex Smith is leading off Wednesday.

Markakis is hitting .281 with no home runs and 20 RBIs.

Report: more major league PED suspensions coming soon

FILE - In this May 30, 2007 file photo a blister with the steroid Oral-Turinabol is displayed in Dresden, eastern Germany. Oral-Turinabol was the main drug in the state-controlled doping in former East Germany.    (AP Photo/Matthias Rietschel, file)
Associated Press
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T.J. Quinn of ESPN’s Outside the Lines reports that another major leaguer — or possibly several of them — will soon be suspended for PEDs. He says that, as was the case with Chris Colabello and others recently, the drug will be Turinabol, which is an old school anabolic steroid. Quinn says that improved testing procedures, which he details in the article, are a likely reason for the spike in Turinabol positives, though it’s also possible that there is a tainted supplement being taken, though he deems that speculative.

What isn’t mentioned is . . . how an ESPN reporter knows a positive test is coming when the drug testing program is supposed to be confidential. Someone with the league or the union must be telling him, right? That’s sort of messed up, no? Will MLB investigate who is leaking such things?

Whatever the case, we’ll soon have a new police blotter item, it seems.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s afternoon action

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Felix Hernandez gives a thumbs-up as he is pulled from the team's baseball game against the Kansas City Royals in the eighth inning, Friday, April 29, 2016, in Seattle. The Mariners won 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
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Wednesday usually means day baseball and today we have seven games on tap before the cocktail hour. Well, before most people’s cocktail hour. Do what you want but some of us have fewer hangups about such things. Working at home is amazing, you guys.

The most notable thing of today’s pitching matchups is that, because of staggered days off, skipped starts and stuff, we’re finally out of that lockstep, early-season thing in which aces face aces all the time. That’s fun and everything — it’s great for the fans — but I bet it annoys the pitchers to some degree. Felix Hernandez vs. Sonny Gray is a marquee matchup. But I bet Felix is happy to be facing Sean Manaea in his second-ever big league start as opposed to a dude who might match zeros with him. Ohio State schedules MAC schools for many of the same reasons.

Anyway, here are the matchups. Skip work, tell your boss you’ve gotta see a guy about a thing and watch baseball. In your heart you know it’s the right thing to do:

Chicago Cubs (Jon Lester) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Juan Nicasio), 12:35 PM EDT, PNC Park;

San Francisco Giants (Jake Peavy) @ Cincinnati Reds (Dan Straily), 12:35 PM EDT, Great American Ball Park

Atlanta Braves (Jhoulys Chacin) @ New York Mets (Steven Matz), 1:10 PM EDT, Citi Field

Los Angeles Angels (Hector Santiago) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Zach Davies), 1:40 PM EDT, Miller Park

Washington Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) @ Kansas City Royals (Kris Medlen), 2:15 PM EDT, Kauffman Stadium

Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez) @ Oakland Athletics (Alex Manaea), 3:35 PM EDT, Oakland Coliseum

Colorado Rockies (Tyler Chatwood) @ San Diego Padres (Cesar Vargas), 3:40 PM EDT, Petco Park

Is Bud Black the favorite to be the next Braves manager?

Bud Black
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We talked last week about how Fredi Gonzalez is likely a dead man walking as the Braves manager. They stink, he’s a lame duck and part of the team’s whole marketing thrust is “2017 will be a new beginning,” what with the new ballpark and all. It stands to reason that Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t have long for this world.

Last week I suspected he’d be fired tomorrow, the Braves off day before a home stand. They’ve won in the past week, but it still wouldn’t shock me. Even if firing Gonzalez would be an act of scapegoating. It’s the roster that’s the problem, not the manager, even though Fredi doesn’t exactly inspire anyone.

Today Bob Nightengale throws this into the mix:

As of yet he hasn’t followed that up with an actual column or more tweets about who, exactly, considers Black to be the heavy favorite, but there’s a definitiveness to that which makes me think he’s heard something solid.

Black, as you know, was the long time Padres manager who had an unsuccessful flirtation with the Nationals before they hired Dusty Baker this past offseason. Black is now cooling his heels with his longtime boss Mike Scioscia in Anaheim, in what is clearly a “wait for his next managing opportunity” posture.

Could it be in Atlanta? At least one national writer and some nebulous group of insiders believe so, it would seem.