Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 4, Rays 2: Chris Davis homers again. Number 46 on the year. He’s four short of the all-time Orioles record. He tied Rafael Palmiero for the most home homers in Orioles history with 25. Tommy Hunter got the save, as it does appear that Buck Showalter is gonna go with the hot hand now. Or, at the very least, avoid Jim Johnson.

Braves 4, Mets 1: Three run homers in the tenth inning are great. Blown calls at first base that allow those three run homers to happen instead of the third out of the inning being properly recorded are not so great. I’ll get over this one and won’t renounce the win because that would be silly, but yeah, this game woulda been very different if it were the Replay Era.

Yankees 4, Blue Jays 2: Hit number 4,000 for Ichiro between the U.S. and Japan. I don’t think there’s any doubt that he’d be pushing that mark if he had spent his whole career here too. Such a unique talent. Alfonso Soriano — who also spent some time in Japan — hit the tie-breaking two-run homer in the eighth. The Yankees still have to climb over three teams, but they are only four back in the wild card.

Mariners 5, Athletics 3: Brendan Ryan got to play and had two hits and drove in three runs. GIven how awesome his glove is it’s sad that he doesn’t hit better so he can hang around longer and get more PT.

Cardinals 8, Brewers 6: Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig homers and four relievers help bail out the redbirds after Jake Westbrook couldn’t make it out of the fifth. Westbrook did hit a bases-loaded double THHOC, however.

Red Sox 12, Giants 1: Barry Zito was shellacked for six runs on seven hits in three and two-thirds. We may have seen his final start as a Giant, if Bruce Bochy’s cryptic comments about changes to be made mean what they sound like they mean. Even if he gets another, his time in San Francisco is almost over and it’s ending very much like it began.

Indians 3, Angels 1: A year ago Cleveland ended the year with just 68 wins. Last night won their 69th. With more than a month remaining, the Indians are just five and a half games behind division leading Detroit and two and a half behind the A’s for the wild card. Not bad for a team that, at times anyway, has looked lost. Just very hot and cold. A two-run homer for Nick Swisher and a strong outing for Justin Masterson who, last start against them notwithstanding, has historically owned the Angels.

Padres 2, Pirates 1: Ian Kennedy tossed seven shutout innings and the Padres avoided the sweep. Yonder Alonso did all the damage on offense. Or, yonder, Alonso did all the damage. Unless you actually were in San Diego yesterday in which case that would be misleading.

Phillies 4, Rockies 3: Another low-run-support no-decision for Cliff Lee as the Phillies failed to capitalize on many early opportunities, but Michael Young hit a walkoff single to end it.

Tigers 7, Twins 1: Boy the Twins stink. I watched the second half of this game and the Tigers’ late rally was the stuff of both good hitting on their part but a lot of boneheaded plays and curious pitch selection on the part of Minnesota. It just looks like a totally lost team.

Reds 10, Diamondbacks 7: Shin-Soo Choo went 4 for 5 with a homer and three RBI and the Reds started early with an 8-0 lead. They needed all of that to hold of the Dbacks. But hold them off they did and now have a pretty comfortable six-game lead over Arizona for the second wild card.

Rangers 5, Astros 4: Elvis Andrus with a walkoff sac fly. That’s probably among the least uplifting walkoff events you can have. Walkoff errors or wild pitches at least have some moment of unexpected excitement to them. Walkoff walks have a sense of building tension as the pitcher struggles to locate. A walkoff sac fly is, like, “and, yep, there it is. It will be deep enough. Ballgame.”

Dodgers 4, Marlins 1: Zack Greinke had eight innings of one-run ball. Yasiel Puig went 0 for 5, but hey, at least he was on time to the ballpark.

White Sox 5, Royals 2: Dayan Viciedo hit a grand slam and that made all the difference. Well most of the difference, but I read Robert Frost before bed last night and I wanted to say “that made all the difference” at some point today.

Nationals 11, Cubs 6: Two homers for Anthony Rizzo were nice but Cubs pitchers gave up two three-run homers to Nats hitters. And that has made all the difference.

OK, that worked a little better, with the exception of the awkward “has.” But we’ll just go with it.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.