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.

Former outfielder Anthony Gose is throwing 99 m.p.h. fastballs in the minors

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Anthony Gose played for five seasons as an outfielder in the big leagues. He never hit well enough to be a regular, and a series of altercations with his minor league managers and coaches didn’t do too much for his future either.

His fastball, however, may eventually make up for all of that.

Toward the end of spring training it was reported that Gose would begin work as a pitcher. Given that he was a highly regarded high school pitching prospect with a plus fastball, it wasn’t a crazy notion. When Tigers camp broke, Gose stayed in Lakeland in extended spring training, throwing bullpen sessions and stuff.

Now he’s seeing game action. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Gose threw an inning for the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers against the Palm Beach Cardinals last night. He allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout and one walk, lighting up the radar gun at 99 m.p.h. This is the tweet from Lakeland’s assistant general manager:

The Free Press says that the Tigers’ vice president of player development, Dave Littlefield, is “very optimistic” about Gose’s progress.

Given that he’s still only 26 and he’s a lefty it wouldn’t shock me at all if he makes his way back to the bigs someday soon.

There is no need to lament the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie”

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Today in the New York Times Jay Caspian Kang writes about what he calls the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie.” About how there are few if any big baseball movies anymore. Movies which traffic in baseball-as-metaphor-for-America with Jimmy Stewart (or Kevin Costner)-types playing characters which seem to transcend time, elevate our emotions and rack up the dollars at the box office.

It’s a bit of meandering column, with just as much time spent on Kang’s seeming dissatisfaction with modern baseball and baseball telecasts as his dissatisfaction with baseball cinema, but he winds it up with this, which sums his argument up well enough:

Baseball’s cinematic vision of Middle America no longer means what it once did. The failing family enterprise and the old, forbearing white — or Negro Leagues — ballplayer now remind us of an extinct vision of the country and the growing distance between Middle America and the coasts. The attempts to update the archival, sun-kissed, Midwestern vision — whether on last year’s “Pitch,” the Fox TV show about a woman pitching in the majors, or “Million Dollar Arm,” the 2014 Disney movie in which Jon Hamm goes to India to convert cricket bowlers into pitchers — are canceled or bomb at the box office.

You won’t be surprised that I take a great deal of issue with all of this.

Mostly because it only talks about one specific kind of baseball movie being AWOL from cinemas: the broad works which appeal to the masses and which speak to both the past, present and future, often with a hazy nostalgia in which love of baseball and love of America are portrayed as one and the same.

It’s worth noting, though, that such films are extraordinarily rare. There was a brief time when such things existed and did well at the box office — the 1980s had “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “Major League” in a relatively short period of time — but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Baseball movies are almost always niche flicks. Biopics made of recently deceased stars like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Weird slices of life like “The Bad News Bears” or “The Sandlot.” Quirky comedies that are baseball offshoots of larger cinematic trends like “Little Big League,” which was just the latest in a series of “kids doing adult things” movies popular at the time. Or “Rookie of the Year” which is essentially baseball’s version of one of those body-switch movies that come and go. Or “Mr. Baseball” which was just a fish-out-of-water comedy like any other.

We still get those kinds of smaller baseball movies fairly often. They’re still pretty decent and still do pretty decently at the box office, even if they’re no one’s idea of a blockbuster.

“Moneyball” was done well and did well, not as a mass appeal movie, but as one of many business/Silicon Valley flicks that have popped over the past few years. “Sugar” was a great movie, but a small movie, exploring a culture about which most people aren’t aware and basically serving as a character study. “42” is just an updated (and much better) version of those old biopics of baseball stars. “Everybody Wants Some” may be the quintessential niche baseball movie in that it’s a story about characters which just happen to have a lot of baseball in their lives. “Bull Durham” was like that too, but it just came along at the right time to become a massive hit. As many have noted, baseball was more background than plot in that movie, even if the background was amazingly well done. I’d argue that most good baseball movies use baseball like that rather than put it squarely in the foreground.

There will likely always be baseball movies, but they will almost always be smaller ones, not large blockbusters or Oscar bait with an epic sweep. Most baseball movies are like baseball itself in that they lack a grand consensus. Baseball is not The National Pastime anymore — it’s just one of many forms of sports and entertainment available to the masses — so it follows that the movies which deal with it will likewise not have that massive cross-market appeal.

I think that’s a good thing. Smaller baseball movies more accurately reflect the sport’s place in the culture. To portray baseball as something larger than what it actually is opens the door to a lot of artistic and cultural dishonesty and runs the risk of creating some really bad art.

I mean, have you seen “Field of Dreams?” Bleech.