San Diego Padres v Miami Marlins

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 6, Padres 2: An improbable walkoff grand slam from Jeff Mathis caps an improbable winning month from the Miami Marlins. 15-10 in June for the worst team in baseball. Not bad. Oh, and Mathis’ homer was the 3,000th in team history.

Pirates 2, Brewers 1: A 14th inning walkoff win for the hottest and — at least by record — best team in baseball. Nine in a row for the pirates who, at the season’s halfway point, are 51-30. Six Pirates relievers combined for 11 scoreless innings, including five from Vin Mazzaro. The Pirates bullpen calls itself “the Shark Tank,” by the way. Which in addition to violating the rules of nicknames — thou shalt not five thyself a nickname — is going to be really insufferable if and when Tim McCarver is talking about it in October. He’s gonna draw out his pronunciation of “Shaaark Tank,” an then hit the meaning of that moniker — dropping teeth and fin and “Jaws” and “smells blood in the water” references — like a boot stamping on a human face forever.

Indians 4, White Sox 0: Justin Masterson? More like Justin Masterful, amirite? Eh, sorry. (CG SHO 1 BB, 8K). The Indians sweep the Chisox and are now tied for first place in the AL Central because …

Rays 3, Tigers 1: … Jeremy Hellickson shuts down the Tigers for his fifth win in the month of June. Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist early, likely in retaliation for the inside pitch from Fernando Rodney to Miguel Cabrera the day before which the Tigers seemed unreasonably bent-out-of-shape about. After that, though, no fisticuffsmanship or anything like that.

Nationals 13, Mets 2: The Nationals were less than impressed with Zack Wheeler. Ian Desmond and Kurt Suzuki each drove in three while Gio Gonzalez tossed seven shutout innings.

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 4: Josh Thole playing first base in the ninth inning of a tie game is what can be referred to as a sub-optimal situation. He muffed Shane Victorino’s grounder which allowed the winning run to score. They took three of four from Toronto, whose momentum from that winning streak which ended last week seems to have evaporated.

Braves 6, Diamondbacks 2: Atlanta sweeps Arizona, completing the season series between them and taking five of six from the GrittyBacks. Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla and Brian McCann each homered.

Royals 9, Twins 8: David Lough homered and hit three doubles. The Royals have a losing record on the season, but are .500 after DFAing Jeff Francoeur. Coincidence?

Dodgers 6, Phillies 1: Yasiel Puig’s Ridiculousness Tour continues. He went 4 for 5, scored twice and is now hitting .436/.467/.713 in 101 at bats. Seven shutout innings for Stephen Fife. The Dodgers may be in last place but they’re only four back in an otherwise weak division following a 15-13 month of June.

Angels 3, Astros 1: The other presumably dead L.A. team is showing itself to only have been mostly dead as well. The Angels win their sixth straight behind a strong outing from C.J. Wilson. Josh Hamilton doubled in a run and scored on an error on the same play. Kind of like a little league home run, that, as he reached third on the throw home and then scored on a throwing error. The Angels are still nine back because their division is tougher than the Dodgers, but you can’t count them out yet.

Rangers 3, Reds 2: Yu Darvish struck out eight in six and two-thirds scoreless innings. The rare two-run squeeze bunt for the Rangers in this one.

Giants 5, Rockies 2: Michael Cuddyer extends his hitting streak to 27 games, but it wasn’t enough as Madison Bumgarner allowed just one run in seven innings. Homers from Buster Posey and Hunter Pence.

Athletics 7, Cardinals 5: Josh Donaldson homered and reached base four times. The A’s third baseman is hitting .316/.384/.525 on the year with 13 homers and 53 RBI and bet most fans couldn’t pick him out of a lineup.

Cubs 7, Mariners 6: The Cubs went up 7-1 by the fourth inning and then held on. After the game starting pitcher Edwin Jackson said “An ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day.” Given his style of pitching over the years he’d definitely be the expert there. Jeremy Bonderman’s little renaissance was interrupted with a six-run, three and a third inning outing.

Orioles 4, Yankees 2: Chris Davis homered — his 3rd of the series and 31st on the year — and Manny Machado added a dinger of his own as the O’s sweep the reeling Yankees. It was Baltimore’s first sweep of the Yankees in a three-game series in eight years.

It’s May 4 and Daniel Murphy is still out-hitting Bryce Harper

Washington Nationals' Daniel Murphy hits an RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Saturday, April 30, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
AP Photo/Jeff Roberson
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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy flirted with the cycle in Wednesday afternoon’s 13-2 drubbing of the Royals, as he went 4-for-5 with a pair of singles, a two-run double, and a solo home run. That brings his triple-slash line on the season up to .398/.449/.663. Comparatively, teammate Bryce Harper — the defending NL MVP and arguably the best player in baseball — is currently hitting .266/.372/.649.

Murphy has always been an above-average hitter, but this level of hitting is something else. Of course, he flashed it in the post-season last year when he homered in six consecutive games, helping the Mets advance past the Dodgers in the NLDS and sweep the Cubs in the NLCS.

The Nats signed Murphy to a three-year, $37.5 million contract in January. If Neil Walker, acquired from the Pirates to replace Murphy, wasn’t hitting so well, the Mets would probably be jealous. Walker is hitting .296/.330/.582 with nine home runs and 19 RBI.

Video: Jon Lester tosses his glove to get the out

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jon Lester throws against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, May 4, 2016, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)
AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
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It’s always fun when this happens. Cubs starter Jon Lester snagged a grounder hit back up the middle by Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli in the bottom of the second inning. The only problem was that the ball got stuck in the webbing of his glove. Rather than fight to pry the ball out, Lester just lobbed his glove over to first baseman Anthony Rizzo to get the first out of the inning.

Lester has had issues throwing baseballs to first base, so maybe it was a good thing the ball got stuck in his glove.

Lester did this last year, too, by the way.

Alex Rodriguez lands on the 15-day DL with a strained hamstring

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez follows through on a single to right off a pitch from Texas Rangers' Shawn Tolleson in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, April 27, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. The Yankees lost 3-2. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez strained his right hamstring running out a ground ball in the fifth inning of Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles. The club announced it has placed him on the 15-day disabled list and recalled pitcher James Pazos from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rodriguez lands on DL hitting .194/.275/.444 with five home runs and 12 RBI in 80 plate appearances.

Dustin Ackley replaced Rodriguez in Tuesday’s game, but the Yankees will likely cycle a handful of players in and out of the DH spot while Rodriguez heals.

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

Philadelphia Phillies' Aaron Nola pitches to a Milwaukee Brewers batter during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 22, 2016, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Tom Lynn)
AP Photo/Tom Lynn
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We were treated to a handful of games this afternoon but we still have eight night games left. Let’s talk about the Phillies.

I wrote this preview of the Phillies just before the season started, predicting them to win only 65 games, which would mark only a marginal improvement over their 63-win season last year. In my defense, I wasn’t alone, as almost every expert as well as the projections had them finishing under 70 wins. And yet, here they are 27 games into the season with 16 wins. That’s on pace for a 96-win season. What the heck.

Aaron Nola pitched seven shutout innings against the Cardinals in a 1-0 victory on Tuesday, marking the Phillies’ sixth shutout of the year, the best mark in the majors. Even as the Phillies prepared to draft him, Nola was described as “major league ready” but no one expected him to be quite this dominant. In his first 19 major league starts, Nola has a 3.37 ERA with a 112/26 K/BB ratio over 117 2/3 innings. This year, not only has Nola been extremely stingy with the walks, but he’s been missing bats at an elite level. He’s only 22 years old.

Nola is joined in the rotation by Vincent Velasquez, the pitcher who highlighted the return from the Astros in the Ken Giles trade. The right-hander made headlines in April with a 16-strikeout performance against the Padres and currently stands with a 1.44 ERA with a 39/10 K/BB ratio in 31 1/3 innings. Unlike Nola, Velasquez was billed as a future ace or a dominant eighth- or ninth-inning guy.

Then there’s Jerad Eickhoff, who came over in the Cole Hamels trade last year. Though he has a ho-hum 4.15 ERA, Eickhoff is occasionally dominant as evidenced by his 32/5 K/BB ratio over 30 1/3 innings. He has a pretty curve. Look at it. Eickhoff probably won’t be an ace, but he wasn’t considered to be a future mainstay in the rotation when the Hamels trade went through. All he’s done so far is exceed expectations. Nola-Velasquez-Eickhoff makes for an outstanding start to a long-term starting rotation.

The offensive tools aren’t quite where the pitching is yet for the Phillies, as third baseman Maikel Franco has wavered between looking like Mike Schmidt and looking completely lost at the plate. He has only five hits (zero home runs) in his last 37 plate appearances. Shortstop prospect J.P. Crawford isn’t there yet, nor is outfielder Nick Williams, catcher Jorge Alfaro, and outfielder Cornelius Randolph. There’s certainly a lot of hope on the horizon.

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a Phillies fan, but wearing rose-colored glasses isn’t a crime of which I’ve been often accused over the years. It has been one headache after another being a Phillies fan between 2012-15. The front office under former GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. was stubborn and out of touch. Now, under new president Andy MacPhail and GM Matt Klentak, the team has a goal and is seeing it through. No, the Phillies won’t win 96 games this year — they probably won’t even win 80 — but they’re certainly further along than a lot of us gave them credit for being.

The Phillies play game three of a four-game set in St. Louis tonight at 8:15 PM EDT. Lefty Adam Morgan will oppose the Cardinals’ Mike Leake.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Detroit Tigers (Anibal Sanchez) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 6:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (CC Sabathia) @ Baltimore Orioles (Tyler Wilson), 7:05 PM EDT

Texas Rangers (Colby Lewis) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Aaron Sanchez), 7:07 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Rubby De La Rosa) @ Miami Marlins (Jose Fernandez), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Dodgers (Alex Wood) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Drew Smyly), 7:10 PM EDT

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Chicago White Sox (Carlos Rodon), 8:10 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Phil Hughes) @ Houston Astros (Mike Fiers), 8:10 PM EDT