And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 1, Phillies 0: Cliff Lee’s last start of 2013 came against the Braves. He pitched eight innings, allowed one solo homer but otherwise struck out 13 and looked invincible. And he lost. Last night: nine innings, one solo homer, but otherwise struck out 13 and looked invincible. And he lost. He totally dominates the Braves but runs into the worst luck run support-wise. Of course this time it had less to do with bad luck and more to do with Julio Teheran keeping Phillies hitters off balance all night. His first complete game and, by definition, his first shutout. Lee got the strikeouts, but Teheran walked one guy and allowed three singles and that was it.

More generally: some people may feel differently, but this is The Perfect Baseball Game. Not because the Braves won — that’s just a happy coincidence — but because of how freakin’ tight and perfectly pitched and tense it got as the game went on. Give me two guys working fast, throwing strikes, throwing confidently and throwing up zeroes like this all night. Give me the complete lack of calls to the bullpen. Give me tight defense and a ninth inning where one ball dropping in here or there or one swing of the bat could totally change things. A game where, until the 27th out is recorded, you couldn’t breathe. If this kind of game doesn’t grab you — or kill you, depending on which side your team falls — you and I don’t have a ton to talk about. Baseball doesn’t get better than this.

Yankees 3, Cubs 0; Yankees 2, Cubs 0: Shutout on both ends of the doubleheader. After watching this Ernie Banks probably said “Forget it! Playing two just ain’t worth it! I’m going out to get something to eat instead of watching any more of this atrocity. God, I should’ve just gone to the Whitney and checked out the Bellows exhibit rather than sit through two dispiriting shutouts.” So good going, 2014 Cubs, you went and made the most optimistic, most doubleheader-happy man in the history of baseball wish you had only played one game. At most. Well-played.

Reds 4, Pirates 0: Johnny Cueto was on point, setting his career high for strikeouts and tossing his third career shutout. Put me in mind of that April 2008 debut of his, which I surreptitiously watched with my friend Mark, who is a big Reds fan, while at my law office one fine afternoon. We watched that and thought Cueto was Bob Gibson all over again. He’s not, but when he’s on he’s really good.

Orioles 3, Rays 0: Yet another shutout. Specifically, Miguel Gonzalez and two relievers combined on a six-hitter. For years we’ve been saying “if the O’s get pitching, look out!” The’ve been getting pitching. As Boston stumbles and Tampa Bay and New York is smacked around by injuries. Hmmmm.

Indians 3, Tigers 2: Last year the Indians finished a game behind the Tigers. If they had dropped, say, only 13 of 19 to the Tigers instead of the 15 of 19 they did lose it obviously would’ve gone differently. They’re starting 2014 off on better footing, beating the Tigers on a night when Anibal Sanchez didn’t seem to have it together early and when Zach McAllilster did. Yan Gomes hot a two-run triple.

Nationals 6, Marlins 3: Down 3-0 in the top of the sixth, Jayson Werth hit a three-run homer which was subject to a review. Watch it here. It looks sorta like fan interference but it also looks like maybe it would hit above the wall even if the dorks didn’t reach out to grab it. I dunno, it’s the Nats and Marlins. When they’re fighting for second place, several games back of the Braves all year, we can revisit its significance, right? Regardless, if Jarrod Saltalamacchia doesn’t commit two — not one, but two — errors that inning, it’s all academic anyway. Jose Fernandez (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 10K, 0 BB) deserved better.

Mets 5, Diamondbacks 2: The Mets sweep. Dillon Gee allowed three hits in seven scoreless innings. That’s six straight losses for the Dbacks. Not sure what they do now. They’ve traded away all their non-gritty players, fired pitching coach Charles Nagy last year and it’s doubtful that throwing balls at guys is a sound strategy. They’re the worst team in baseball at the moment.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 1: Wily Peralta allowed one run in six and a third as the Brew Crew avoids the sweep. Ron Roenicke after the game:

“What’s really important — most important — is we lost two games to begin the series and we got that game back. It’s important against our division, but we have to win more games than they do. It’s not head to head. We have to win more games this season then they do. That’s what we’re playing for.”

Great, now what is the equipment manager supposed to do with all of these swimsuits and pianos the Brewers were going to use in the later rounds of the pageant?

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Thursday evening MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on ThursdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Rangers 3, Mariners 2: I spend all morning yesterday talking up Darvish vs. Hernandez and neither figures in the decision. Each pitched well — one run for Hernandez over seven, two over seven for Darvish — but the game turned on Fernando Rodney blowing up in the ninth, throwing a run-scoring wild pitch and allowing a walkoff single to Leonys Martin. Which, to be honest, may have been something I could’ve predicted when I was talking up Hernandez and Darvish yesterday morning.

Giants 2, Dodgers 1: Pablo Sandoval hit a junk pitch with an awkward swing into center field to score the go-ahead and ultimately winning run in the seventh. Baseball doesn’t have to always be pretty.

Angels 5, Athletics 4: Chris Iannetta with a walkoff homer in the 12th. You’ll be shocked to hear that, after the game, Iannetta said he “was just looking for a pitch to hit.” The A’s blew a bunch of chances to take the lead in extras but the Angels’ pen stranded their runners left and right.

Royals 6, Astros 4: Mike Moustakas, who has struggled mightily out of the gate, hit solo homer to give the Royals the lead in the 11th. George Springer had a hit and a walk in his big league debut.

Padres 4, Rockies 2: Andrew Cashner allowed one earned run while pitching into the eighth and striking out five. It was the 10th straight start in which he gave up two runs or fewer.

Red Sox 6, White Sox 4: The polar opposite of that Braves-Phillies game. Robin Ventura used four pitchers to get through the eighth inning and thus had to use infielder Leury Garcia to pitch the 14th inning of a tie game. Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run double off him for what proved to be the winning runs. Matthew has an extended recap of this one, including some fun scoring decisions and box score oddities.

Blue Jays vs. Twins: POSTPONED: “I think it’s dark and it looks like rain,” you said, “and the wind is blowing like it’s the end of the
world,” you said “and it’s so cold it’s like the cold if you were dead,” and then you smiled for a second.

Noah Syndergaard refused an MRI for his sore biceps

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Mets’ right-hander Noah Syndergaard will take the hill on Sunday afternoon, just three days after he was scratched from a start due to right biceps tendinitis and shoulder discomfort. Syndergaard told reporters that he refused recommended medical testing on his arm because he felt “ready to go” after taking anti-inflammation medication and tossing a bullpen session on Friday. “I think I know my body best,” the right-hander said. “I’m pretty in tune with my body, and that’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI.”

It’s an unusual decision for a pitcher who has already succumbed to several serious arm issues, some as recent as last season, but as club GM Sandy Alderson told the New York Times’ James Wagner, the Mets aren’t in a position to force the issue.

This is a tense time for the Mets, whose lineup has been fraught with injuries of nearly every variety, from Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issue to Steven Matz‘s elbow inflammation and David Wright‘s cervical disc herniation. Syndergaard’s setback last week didn’t appear too serious, but it would make sense for the team to take things slowly with their best still-healthy hurler. Instead, they’ll push forward on Sunday against the Nationals and hope that Syndergaard’s read on his biceps issue is an accurate one.

The 24-year-old righty is 1-1 through his first four starts of 2017 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.0 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 in 26 innings. He’s scheduled to make his first start against the Nationals on Sunday at 1:35 PM ET.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Saturday’s games featured Jake Lamb‘s record-setting home run, Ivan Nova‘s sterling outing against the Marlins, and an impressive walk-off at Dodger Stadium. Here are the rest of the day’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 12, Orioles 4: So much for the Yankees blowing past their quota of runs on Friday night. They returned in full force on Saturday, dominating the Orioles in regulation innings with a 12-run display. Home runs were, again, the name of the game, with Brett Gardner going deep twice for his first two homers of the season and Austin Romine and Aaron Judge tacking on an extra couple of blasts to pad the Yankees’ eight-run lead. (That’s home run No. 10 for Judge, by the way, a record-tying total by a rookie in his first month of big league games.)

Mets 5, Nationals 3: The Mets are still dealing with a slew of injuries, some of which have drastically thinned their outfield reserves over the last several weeks. With Brandon Nimmo and Yoenis Cespedes hampered by hamstring issues, left fielder Michael Conforto rose to the occasion, hitting two home runs in the Mets’ 5-3 win over the Nationals on Saturday. He boosted the club to their first lead in the fifth inning, plunking a two-run homer into the right field bleachers, then reemerged in the eighth with an insurance home run off of Enny Romero.

Blue Jays 4, Rays 1: The Blue Jays still have the worst record in the majors, but you wouldn’t know it from their dominant outing on Saturday. Francisco Liriano limited the Rays to one run over five innings, backed by a strong showing from the ‘pen to maintain the club’s three-run lead. Kendrys Morales put Toronto on the map in the first inning, scoring on a fielding error by Tampa Bay’s Tim Beckham, while Russell Martin and Justin Smoak decorated the Jays’ efforts with an RBI double and two-run home run to even the series.

Cubs 7, Red Sox 4: Hanley Ramirez may not own the longest home run of 2017, but he set a record that may take longer to beat: the longest home run hit at Fenway Park.* Ramirez belted a 469-footer off of Cubs’ right-hander John Lackey in the third inning, catapulting a 1-0 pitch over the Green Monster to break the season record set by Kris Bryant’s 449-foot homer on Friday. He even snuck in a few celebratory kisses after rounding the bases.

Ramirez’s home run beat his own previous mark, measured at 468 feet last May.

*In the Statcast era

White Sox 6, Tigers 4 (10 innings): We’re only through one month of the regular season, so it’s pointless to fret about slumps and slow starts right now. Still, the White Sox were able to breathe a sigh of relief when veteran slugger Melky Cabrera finally recorded his first home run of the year, a 10th-inning game-winner off of Detroit left-hander Justin Wilson. It’s the sixth consecutive win for the White Sox, which keeps them just half a game ahead of the Indians in the AL Central.

Pirates 4, Marlins 0: It’s hardly exaggerating to call this the best game of Ivan Nova’s career. The right-hander tossed a three-hitter at Marlins Park on Saturday, striking out seven and setting down nine scoreless frames. Not only did it mark Nova’s fifth complete game in a Pirates’ uniform, but it was the third complete game shutout of his eight-year career.

Indians 4, Mariners 3: It only took one inning to decide the Mariners’ fate on Saturday. They got on the board with consecutive home runs from Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager in the first, then promptly erased their three-run lead when the Indians lassoed four runs in the bottom of the inning. From the second inning through the end of the game, neither team advanced a runner past second base, preserving the Indians’ one-run lead and bringing them within half a game of the division lead.

Rangers 6, Angels 3: Sure, hitting for the cycle is a rare feat in and of itself, but how many major league players can do it with one shoe on?

Carlos Gomez completed his second career cycle on Saturday, beginning with a first inning double that cost him exactly one cleat:

He returned (with both cleats) for a triple, base hit and a two-run homer, becoming the first Rangers’ player to hit for the cycle since Adrian Beltre defeated the Astros with his third career cycle in 2015.

Braves 11, Brewers 3: The Braves have played with a short-handed bench lately, forcing manager Brian Snitker to engineer some creative alternatives (including, but not limited to, the use of starter Julio Teheran as a pinch-hitter and -runner). Thankfully, no such alternatives were needed on Saturday, especially after Matt Kemp helped vault the Braves to an eight-run lead with the first three-homer game of his career:

Athletics 2, Astros 1: Andrew Triggs is looking more and more like a bonafide starter these days. He anchored the A’s 2-1 win with seven shutout innings, allowing five hits and fanning nine before handing the game over to the bullpen. The A’s were similarly stymied by Houston right-hander Joe Musgrove through the better part of seven innings, but rallied with a pair of home runs from Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis to secure the lead — and their 11th win.

Rockies 7, Diamondbacks 6: Is it even worth bragging about hitting the longest home run of the year when the record gets shattered every other day? Perhaps not, but it’s difficult to imagine someone hitting a ball much further than Jake Lamb’s 481-foot two-run shot off of Colorado’s Tyler Anderson this weekend:

Lamb’s home run ranks eleventh in estimated home run distance during the Statcast era. Only nine hitters have recorded longer home runs, topping out at Giancarlo Stanton‘s 504-foot blast last August.

Dodgers 6, Phillies 5: No one would have blamed you for turning off the Dodgers’ game last night. Few would have faulted you for trying to beat L.A. traffic by skipping out of Dodger Stadium in the eighth inning, when the Phillies padded their three-run lead with Andrew Knapp‘s first home run of the season. If you had, however, you would have missed a true storybook ending.

Down 5-2 in the bottom of the ninth, Yasiel Puig worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Philadelphia right-hander Hector Neris, prevailing with a 416-foot home run that sank into the center field bleachers. Neris wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. His at-bat against Cody Bellinger only lasted one-eighth as long, ending on a long fly ball that ricocheted off of the right field foul pole for the rookie’s second major league home run. Justin Turner provided the game-tying knock, going back-to-back-to-back with Puig and Bellinger, while Adrian Gonzalez polished off the rally with a two-out, game-winning base hit.

 

Padres 12, Giants 4: The Padres leapfrogged their injury-riddled division rivals on Saturday with their first double-digit win of the year, breaking out in the sixth with an eight-run inning that saw 11 batters, an RBI double, two RBI singles, a bases-loaded walk, an RBI force out, Wil Myerssixth home run of the season, and the complete implosion of the Giants’ bullpen.