Trout and Harper

And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Nationals 2: All day I read stuff about “Trout vs. Harper!” I was really excited until I remember that baseball is not the NBA and at no time was it really likely that the two would actually compete against one another directly. I mean, I suppose one could try to throw out the other as the one tried to take an extra base, but the odds were against that. On a granular level baseball is technically about one-on-one matchups. Only those matchups are between a hitter and a pitcher. More broadly, baseball is a team sport and Mike Trout’s team beat Bryce Harper’s. Trout was 2 for 5. Harper was 0 for 3. And Raul Ibanez’s three-run double mattered more than what either of them did.

Braves 4, Marlins 2: Evan Gattis with a walkoff homer in the 10th. Kudos to Fredi Gonzalez here. In the ninth, following a leadoff double, Gonzalez ordered Jason Heyward to bunt, despite the fact that he’s a lefty with power and the pitcher was a right hander. A right hander, by the way, named Carlos Marmol, who is not exactly good. in essence, he was more confident in Heyward — a guy who rarely if ever is asked to bunt — laying one down than being able to pull something off a crappy righty, which would have moved the runner over. And of course, had he done it, it means he’s depending on B.J. Upton to drive in the run. Now, you may think that’s deranged and I might think that’s deranged, but Fredi certainly knew that this unsuccessful sac bunt attempt would optimize the chances of Evan Gattis coming up to hit that walkoff homer. You mad genius, Freddi! You mad genius.

Phillies 7, Dodgers 0: Cliff Lee struck out double digits for the second straight start. This time he actually won. In his first five starts Lee has struck out 38 batters and has walked two.

Rockies 8, Giants 2: Five homers for the Rockies. And none of them were hit by Carlos Gonzalez or Troy Tulowitzki. Charlie Blackmon hit two. Ryan Vogelsong gave up three of them. Hard to see him lasting the year in the rotation. His ERA is now 7.71.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $55,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s just $25 to join and first prize is $7,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Brewers 4, Padres 3: Milwaukee keeps chugging along. Aramis Ramirez homered and Ryan Braun drove in two. K-Rod saved his fourth game in four days. If you had been wagering on Rodriguez being lights out to start the season you would’ve gotten pretty awesome odds. Same with the Brewers starting off 15-5.

Cubs 5, Diamondbacks 1: Travis Wood: wrecking ball. He drove in four runs, including a three-run homer, and allowed one run while striking out nine over seven innings.

Astros 7, Mariners 2: Seattle has lost seven in a row. Matt Dominguez homered and drove in three. And that was with Felix Hernandez on the mound. Houston scored six off of him, though only two were earned. With teams this bad I’m afraid to go look at highlights before I eat breakfast, but I’m gonna assume some sloppy defense. [looks] ah, only one bad defensive play. Yep, the noodle-bat Astros actually beat King Felix around a bit. Go figure.

Mets 2, Cardinals 0: Jenrry Meija shut out the Cards for six and two-thirds while striking out seven. And he had some nifty defense behind him too. The only thing that looked bad for the Mets yesterday was their camouflage uniforms.

Rangers 4, Athletics 3: Yu Darvish was not at his best, but the Rangers gritted one out over the defending two-time division champs. Donnie Murphy lined a go-ahead single up the middle with one out in the eighth inning as Texas came from behind.

White Sox 3, Tigers 1: Anibal Sanchez was solid for six but the Sox broke through in the seventh. Of course, the words “broke through” imply a lot of kinetic energy. Here the seventh inning was like watching paint dry thanks to two replay reviews which stopped the game in its tracks.

Indians 4, Royals 3: Jason Kipnis and Michael Brantley hit two-run homers and Zach McAllister overcame some shaky defense behind him. Oh, and there was a squirrel on the field at one point, which I thought you all should know about.

Pirates 6, Reds 5: Ike Davis is making himself right at home in Pittsburgh. He hit a grand slam. This not too long after hitting that big walkoff grand slam for the Mets. According to STATS, Inc., Davis is the first player to hit grand slams for different teams in the same April. Neat.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 6: These teams were likely dragging after a Sunday night game gave way to this 11AM start, but that’s Patriot’s Day for you. Baltimore jumped out to a 6-0 lead and then held on to win 7-6. The Red Sox had loads of chances — they left runners on base in each of the innings in which they scored — but they let them slip away.

Report: Extension talks between Mets, Neil Walker are “probably dead”

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: Neil Walker #20 of the New York Mets sits in the dugout before the game against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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On Sunday, it was reported that second baseman Neil Walker and the Mets were discussing a potential three-year contract extension worth “north of $40 million.” Those discussions took a turn for the worse. The Mets feel extension talks are “probably dead,” according to Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Walker underwent a lumbar microdisectomy in September, ending his 2016 season during which he hit .282/.347/.476 with 23 home runs and 55 RBI over 458 plate appearances.

The Mets may not necessarily need to keep Walker around as it has some potential options up the middle waiting in the minor leagues. Though Amed Rosario is expected to stick at shortstop, Gavin Cecchini — the club’s No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline — could shift over to second base.

Rick Ankiel drank vodka before a start to deal with the yips

9 Apr 2000: Rick Ankiel #66 of the St. Louis Cardinals winds back to pitch the ball during the game against the Milwaukee Brweers at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeated the Brewers 11-2. Mandatory Credit: Elsa Hasch  /Allsport
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The story of Rick Ankiel is well known by now. He was a phenom pitcher who burst onto the scene with the Cardinals in 1999 and into the 2000 season as one of the top young talents in the game. Then, in the 2000 playoffs, he melted down. He got the yips. Whatever you want to call it, he lost the ability to throw strikes and his pitching career was soon over. He came back, however, against all odds, and remade his career as a solid outfielder.

It’s inspirational and incredible. But there is a lot more to the story that we’ve ever known. We will soon, however, as Ankiel is coming out with a book. Today he took to the airwaves and shared some about it. Including some amazing stuff:

On drinking in his first start after the famous meltdown in Game One of the 2000 National League division series against the Braves:

“Before that game…I’m scared to death. I know I have no chance. Feeling the pressure of all that, right before the game I get a bottle of vodka. I just started drinking vodka. Low and behold, it kind of tamed the monster, and I was able to do what I wanted. I’m sitting on the bench feeling crazy I have to drink vodka to pitch through this. It worked for that game. (I had never drank before a game before). It was one of those things like the yipps, the monster, the disease…it didn’t fight fair so I felt like I wasn’t going to fight fair either.”

Imagine spending your whole life getting to the pinnacle of your career. Then imagine it immediately disintegrating. And then imagine having to go out and do it again in front of millions. It’s almost impossible for anyone to contemplate and, as such, it’s hard to judge almost anything Ankiel did in response to that when he was 21 years-old. That Ankiel got through that and made a career for himself is absolutely amazing. It’s a testament to his drive and determination.