And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rangers 6, Angels 5: They were up then down then bang! Jurickson Profar with the walkoff blast. This one would’ve been way easier, however, if Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre all hadn’t committed errors in the second inning, allowing three unearned runs. But it was a must-win game and the Rangers won.

Indians 6, Twins 5: A win, sure, but the way Chris Perez nearly coughed up a 6-1 lead the day after getting a vote of confidence from Terry Francona has to make Cleveland nervous. Apart from mopup duty or innings eating in games where the Tribe has, like, a 12-run lead, he’ll likely be watching the rest of this series from the bullpen bench.

Rays 4, Yankees 0: The Rays finish off a sweep of the Yankees with ease — they outscored New York 17-3 — but the real story here was the farewell of Mariano Rivera. It wasn’t a save situation, but his final home game was pretty familiar stuff: zeros across the board apart from the innings pitched and pitch count. And the way he was taken out of the game was as touching as can be.

Braves 7, Phillies 1: Jason Heyward was 5 for 5 and David Hale allowed only one run over six innings. See, Brian McCann? That’s how you keep the opposition from crossing home plate.

Padres 3, Diamondbacks 2: Alexi Amarista hit an RBI single in the 11th inning, ending the home portion of the Padres season. They were 45-36 at home this year. Not bad for a team that, overall, has only won 75 games. Since I got back late Monday I’ve been trying to convince my bosses at NBC that I’d perform better in San Diego too, but they’re not buying it.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 2: Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven innings of two-hit ball. Matt Wieters homered. After the game Wieters said “that was vintage Miggy” of Gonzalez’s performance. Gonzalez has one and a half years experience.

Brewers 4, Mets 2: Johnny Hellweg beaned David Wright in the head. Wright is OK, but damn, I hope these final meaningless games are worth it for Wright. The beaning wasn’t intentional. Afterward Hellweg said “That’s the last guy on the team I want to hit.” I’d be curious to see his list of priorities.

Giants 3, Dodgers 2: This could’ve been the final game for Tim Lincecum in a Giants uniform. If so, not too bad: seven innings, eight hits, two runs and a no-decision. Angel Pagan’s homer in the eighth broke a 2-2- tie.

Royals 3, White Sox 2: David Lough hit a two-run homer and Jeremy Guthrie pitched well. It was the Royals’ 84th win, which is their best total since 1993.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉