And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

80 Comments

Braves 10, Nationals 2: Freddie Freeman and Justin Upton each hit two-run homers and Andrelton Simmons added a three-run shot of his own. The Nats have lost five times this season, all of the at the hands of the Braves. This continues the pattern from last season when the Braves took 13 of 19 from Washington.

Padres 5, Tigers 1: Max Scherzer has started three times this season. The Tigers have scored three runs for him. Contrast this with last season when he enjoyed some of the best run support in baseball. Not that he was all that sharp here. Jedd Gyorko and Xavier Nady homered and the Padres took two of three from the Tigers.

Giants 5, Rockies 4: A walkoff bomb into McCovey Cove for Brandon Crawford. Just like the Braves own the Nats, the Giants own the Rockies, at least at home. They have beaten Colorado 15 of the last 18 times these two have played in AT&T Park.

Athletics 3, Mariners 0: Scott Kazmir and four relievers combine for the shutout and Yoenis Cespedes broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with a two-run homer. And even though he got the no-decision, hats off to Chris Young. He started his first game since September 2012 and tossed six shutout innings. Not bad for a guy who battled shoulder trouble all last year and then was released just before the end of spring training.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 4:  And we should come up with a definition for an Edwin Jacksonian start. This one seemed pretty Jacksonian, as he threw 114 pitches, walked a lot of guys and gave up four runs on eight hits. Like, it’s not bad. Not good either, of course. Generally inefficient. Kind of frustrating. Certain points where you watch him and think “man, he should be doing better than this.” You know, the sort of pitching in which Jackson has specialized for his entire career. Anyway, Matt Carpenter drove in three. The Cubs drop their ninth straight series.

Angels 14, Mets 2: Bartolo Colon gave up three homers in the space of seven pitches in the first inning, to Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez, respectively. Hank Conger hit one off him later. In contrast to Max Scherzer, C.J. Wilson has had 23 runs of support in his last two starts. Of course he was excellent here anyway, allowing two runs over seven innings.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $35,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Pirates 1: The Brewers have won nine straight and are now 10-2 on the season. It’s the best start the Brewers have had since they went 13-0 to begin the 1987 season. That was one of my favorite teams ever, by the way. Just so many cool dudes on that club and they were insanely fun to watch when you got the chance (which wasn’t often because, dudes, it was 1987 and there wasn’t nearly as much baseball on). Of course one of the things that made them fun was their wild unpredictability. After starting 13-0 they all but negated that with a 12-game losing streak in early May on the way to a 91-71 record. Which looks nice, but was only good enough for third place in the excellent AL East that season. Anyway, I’m sure they’re hoping for a little more consistence in the early going this year.

Rangers 1, Astros 0: Martin Perez tossed eight scoreless and had four double plays behind him. The Astros dropped two 1-0 games to the Rangers in this three game series.

Phillies 4, Marlins 3: Chase Utley had three hits including a homer and is now sporting a pretty spiffy line of .500/.565/.875 on the young season. He’s got six doubles, three home runs and 10 RBI. All this even though he missed three games with the flu. Makes you wonder how his past few seasons would’ve been with healthy knees. The Phillies sweep the Marlins. 

Twins 4, Royals 3: Kind of a crazy game. The Royals had a 3-2 lead entering the bottom of the eighth. Minnesota took the lead when, with the bases loaded,  Chris Herrmann hit one back to pitcher Wade Davis. Instead of an easy home-first double play, Davis tossed it clear past the catcher, allowing two runs to score. And the game ended with Mike Moustakas being called out when he looked at a pop fly and got in the way of catcher Kurt Suzuki who was trying to field it. That’s interference and it was the last out of the game. Good effort, Royals.

Blue Jays 11, Orioles 3: The Jays rattled off 17 hits and Mark Buehrle won his third game of the season, lowering his ERA to 0.86. Also: a game in which a team scored 11 runs and had 21 base runners ended in two hours and forty five minutes. Last week there was a game that ended 1-0 that lasted nearly three and a half hours. God Bless Mark Buehrle. Would that more pitchers worked as quickly as he does.

Reds 12, Rays 4: Chris Heisey hit a grand slam and and Devin Mesoraco homered and drove in four. In other news, I went down to the Reds-Rays game on Saturday and spent the night at the same hotel at which the Rays were staying. When I was leaving to come home yesterday morning, all of the Rays’ suitcases were lined up by the valet waiting to be taken to the charter flight. David Price’s golf clubs were sitting there — his uniform number on a tag on the bag — with no one nearby. I feel like you all should congratulate me for my restraint in not stealing David Price’s golf clubs when I totally, totally could’ve.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 6 : The sweep. Adrian Gonzalez homered for his fourth straight and drove in ten during this three-game series. The Dbacks have started the season out abysmally, and already find themselves six games back of the Dodgers.

White Sox 4, Indians 3: Alexei Ramirez hit a two-run homer off John Axford in the ninth to rally the Sox from one down.

Yankees 3, Red Sox 2: A two-run homer for Carlos Beltran and seven and a third solid innings from Ivan Nova. The Yankees’ third run came on a fielder’s choice which was originally ruled a double play. Joe Girardi challenged, however, and batter Francisco Cervelli was ruled safe at first on the replay. John Farrell came out and yelled at the umpiring crew about it and was immediately ejected because, well, you just can’t do that. But the day before baseball admitted it got a replay call wrong that went against Boston and Farrell was obviously still steamed. After the game he said it was “extremely difficult to have any faith in the process that’s being used” for replay. Expect more on this in the coming days.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
9 Comments

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

Harry How/Getty Images
10 Comments

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.