And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 6, White Sox 5: Living with a Tigers fan is kinda hard sometimes. Like, when you have the Indians-White Sox game on the TV, she wants the Indians to lose, the White Sox blow a two-run lead in the ninth and then Carlos Santana hits a walkoff homer in extras. It’s even more complicated when, as a matter of pure coincidence, you’re wearing the White Sox shirt you picked up on that trip to U.S. Cellular last month and, when Santana hits the homer, you give a little chuckle that was in no way intended to mock said Tigers fan but was totally construed as such.

Braves 9, Rockies 0: But who cares? My team won. Atlanta just keeps rolling along, getting their sixth straight win and putting up the third six-run-or-more inning in as many games against Colorado. Mike Minor won his 11th game with seven shutout innings. After the game Freddie Freeman said “We’re clicking on all cylinders.” I think he meant firing. If your cylinders are clicking, you should probably go see your mechanic.

Pirates 5, Cardinals 4: The idea of a “statement game” or “statement series” has always seemed hokey to me as the only statement which matters is the last one you’ve made and there is still plenty of time left in the season. But yeah, the Cardinals are getting told. In other news, I have tickets to a Pirates game on August 17. Since — as the White Sox shirt thing demonstrates — I am one of those people who like to own hats and shirts and stuff from almost any team, not just my rooting interest, I bought a Pirates cap and shirt yesterday to wear to the game. I feel like I’m one of many thousands buying Pirates gear for the first time. And for good reason.

Red Sox 5, Mariners 4: This was a 15-inning marathon, but it ended in the Red Sox regaining the lead in the A.L. East. The AP game story lead notes that this one started in July and ended in August, which is the kind of cutesy fact my dad would point out to me. He’s the type who will go 200 miles out of his way to stand at Four Corners or who would prefer to ski at the California-Nevada line at Tahoe more than anyplace else specifically so he can tell people he skied across two states. My dad is an odd one.  Anyway, sorry for the digression. This one featured two spiffy defensive plays late: an unassisted double play by Jonny Gomes, who caught a ball and then ran all the way to second base himself to double off Raul Ibanez. It also featured this laser from Michael Saunders to cut down what would have been the game winning run in the bottom of the 14th on a fly to center. I could watch stuff like that all day.

Tigers 11, Nationals 1: Gio Gonzalez got obliterated and the Nats fall to 4-9 since the break and find themselves 11 games back. Alex Avila homered for the second straight game. Torii Hunter went 4 for 5.

Reds 4, Padres 1: The Reds break their losing streak behind eight and a third innings from Homer Bailey in which he allowed only an unearned run.  After a long road trip the Reds get a much-needed day off before a weekend series at home vs. the Cardinals.

Blue Jays 5, Athletics 2: A three-run double in the 10th from Jose Bautista give the Blue Jays their fifth win in seven games. This was a sloppy one, with the Jays committing four errors and the A’s allowing a run to score on a passed ball.

Giants 9, Phillies 2: A solid outing from Chad Gaudin and a four-RBI day from Brett Pill. Good thing the Phillies stood pat at the deadline. This is a core you really don’t want to break up.

Astros 11, Orioles 0:  Just yesterday I didn’t even know what a Brett Oberholtzer was, and now here I am, looking at a pitching line of seven three-hit shutout innings for the guy. A grand slam and two doubles from Jason Castro.

Marlins 3, Mets 2: Jake Marisnick homered and Henderson Alvarez won. Each were players picked up in that big trade with the Blue Jays last offseason. Which, again, was a disaster in terms of P.R. and fan base relations for the Marlins, but actually brought back some useful pieces.

Cubs 6, Brewers 1: It’s weird to think of these two in the same division as the Cards, Pirates and Reds. So much good baseball played at the top, so much bad played at the bottom. Sorry Cubs and Brewers fans: I know I’m being unfair to you guys by not digging into the box scores of these games to find all of the interesting happenings, but there are a couple of teams which I just totally tune out toward the end of each season. You two are pretty close to the top of my list of tune-outs this year.

Diamondbacks 7, Rays 0: Wade Miley pitched two-hit ball into the seventh. Paul Goldschmidt homered and reached base four times. The Dbacks break their losing streak. And they gain ground on the Dodgers because …

Yankees 3, Dodgers 0: … Hiroki Kuroda tied ’em up for seven innings and the Yankees rallied for three in the ninth. Only blemish for New York here is the revelation that Kuroda simply doesn’t know how to win.

Rangers 2, Angels 1: Walkoff homer for Adrian Beltre. Best part: as he was mobbed at home he covered his head with both hands. That whole Adrian-Beltre-hates-people-to-touch-his-head thing is just odd.

Royals 4, Twins 3: Eight wins in a row for the Royals. This is the first time the Royals have been above .500 at the end of July in ten years.

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.