And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 1, Reds 0: There were five shutouts in Major League Baseball yesterday. Three of those games and four of the teams involved were in the National League East. It’s as if a rift was created in the space-time continuum allowing for 1968 to become localized over certain portions of the eastern seaboard. I’m assuming red matter was involved somehow, but I need to consult Memory Alpha to get the details down accurately. Here it was all zeroes until Freddie Freeman singled home the game’s only run in walkoff fashion in the bottom of the 10th.

Phillies 2, Diamondbacks 0: A.J. Burnett tossed eight shutout innings to outduel Brandon McCarthy, who struck out a career-high 12 in seven innings. The Diamondbacks are now 8-20 and have a staggering -59 run differential.

Mets 4, Marlins 0: Quote of the day goes to David Wright, talking about Dillon Gee: “I’m not sure if Dillon is all that sexy of a pitcher. He just goes out there and gets the job done.” (1) I’d say three hits over eight shutout innings is sexy; and (2) even if it isn’t, someone who just goes out and gets the job done is often way better to have than someone who is sexy. The more superficial aspects of sexy go away after a while. Having someone who simply has their crap together is highly underrated.

Cardinals 7, Pirates 0: The starting pitcher was fantastic, shutting out the opposition until the bullpen carried the shutout the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the shortstop had two homers.

Cubs 4, Brewers 0: The starting pitcher was fantastic, shutting out the opposition until the bullpen carried the shutout the rest of the way. Meanwhile, the shortstop had two homers. No, this is not a copy-and-paste error. It was basically the same game as the Cards-Pirates thing. Only difference: Jason Hammel pitched seven shutout innings to Adam Wainwright’s eight and Starlin Castro’s two homers were solo shots while Jhonny Peralta drove in four. In other news, Hammel has four wins for a team that only has eight overall.

Astros 5, Athletics 1: Collin McHugh is Lou Gehrig to Scott Feldman’s Wally Pipp. Well, maybe not exactly — the Astros will find a place for Feldman when he comes back while someone like Lucas Harrell gets bumped — but there’s no question McHugh is parlaying his injury-necessitated callup into a full time gig. Here he allowed one run on two hits over eight and two-thirds while striking out seven. In his first start he shut out the Mariners into the seventh inning while striking out 12. Strong stuff.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Monday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:10pm ET on MondayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Padres 4, Nationals 2: Ian Kennedy gave up three hits, struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone over seven, retiring 16 straight batters at one point. Cameron Maybin made his first big league start of the season and had a couple of hits. The Nats couldn’t have had a worse couple of days. They put Bryce Harper on the DL and then their starter for this one, Taylor Jordan, showed up with the flu. He attempted to pitch but had nothing.

White Sox 9, Rays 2: Jose Abreu keeps doing it. He homered and drove in four, bringing his totals to ten bombs and 31 RBI, both of which are records for he first month of the season for a rookie. And true, Abreu is a much more seasoned rookie than most, but the guy whose records he broke in both of those categories is Albert Pujols, who was no typical rookie himself.

Rockies 6, Dodgers 1: The Rockies are quietly putting together a nice season so far. They’ve won four series in a row and are tied with the Dodgers for second place in the division at 14-12. Jorge De La Rosa allowed one run over seven and Josh Rutledge had a three-run homer.

Giants 4, Indians 1: Brandon Hicks hit a three-run homer with two outs in the ninth with the score tied 1-1. That gave the Giants a series sweep. Not bad for a dude who signed a minor league deal and wouldn’t even be here if Marco Scutaro wasn’t hurt.

Mariners 6, Rangers 5: Kyle Seager had two homers including a three-run shot in the eighth to complete the M’s come-from-behind victory. Seager is on fire: he has five home runs in four games, and he’s had at least two hits in all of those games as well.

Royals 9, Orioles 3:  Have yourself a day Omar Infante. The Royals second baseman drove in six, with an RBI groundout in the first, a sac fly in the third, a two-run double in the fifth and a two-run homer in the seventh. James Shields tossed seven innings of three-hit ball.

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 1: The Blue Jays salvage one and end a four-game losing streak. The Jays’ lineup featured six players from the Dominican Republic, which is believed to be a record. I would like to think that this was John Gibbons’ direct rebuke to the unnamed Jays scout who was reported to have said “this team has too many Latinos on it to win” at some point last year.

Yankees 3, Angels 2: Tanaka struck out 11, Teixeira hit a homer from the left side of the plate and the Yankees scored what proved to be the winning run via a passed ball and a wild pitch.

Tigers vs. Twins: POSTPONED:

“The rain to the wind said,
You push and I’ll pelt.’
They so smote the garden bed
That the flowers actually knelt,
And lay lodged–though not dead.
I know how the flowers felt.” 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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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

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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.