And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Astros 9, Royals 2: George Springer is figuring it out and the results are pretty damn impressive. The Astros’ rookie homered in his fourth straight game while going 4 for 4 with two doubles, three RBI, a walk, and five runs scored.

Orioles 7, Brewers 6: Jonathan Schoop hit two homers and Nick Hundley singled in the go-ahead run in the 10th. In other news, I totally missed that the Orioles had acquired Nick Hundley. In my defense I had a healthy amount of bourbon over Memorial Day weekend. If the trade happened before then it’s because I never read Gleeman’s posts. He knows what he did.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2: Giancarlo Stanton went 3 for 4 with a two-run homer and Nathan Eovaldi was solid. To the extent you subscribe to the idea that Memorial Day is the time when you no longer dismiss unexpected results with “it’s early, but  . . .” know that it’s the day after Memorial Day and the Marlins are two games out of first place and two games over .500.

Pirates 5, Mets 3: The Mets bullpen blows a three-run lead in the eighth and ninth by surrendering five runs, three of which came courtesy of Gaby Sanchez hits, four of which were given up by Jose Valverde. Who, immediately after the game, became a former Met. ‘E’s not pinin’, ‘E’s passed on! This Met is no more! He has ceased to be! ‘E’s been released and gone to meet ‘is agent! ‘E’s a stiff! Bereft of a job. ‘Is pitching processes are now ‘istory! ‘E’s off the twig! ‘E’s shuffled off ‘is active roster, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ bullpen invisible!! THIS IS AN EX-MET!!

Red Sox 8, Braves 6: Clay Buchholz walked eight dudes and gave up six runs in three innings. And man, walking Braves hitters is not easy. His teammates bailed him out, though, with a David Ortiz three-run blast capping a five-run rally to tie things up in the fifth and six innings of shutout work from the Sox’ pen. With that, the Red Sox finally snap their ugly losing streak. Even with the ugly seeping into the first three innings of this one.

Athletics 10, Tigers 0: A five-homer day for the A’s, including a Derek Norris grand slam. All of which is rich given that before the game Bob Melvin told his players to “grind” and not try to hit homers. The lesson here: screw that noise. Homers are awesome. They’re literally the best thing you can do while batting. That’s not my opinion. That’s an inescapable fact of baseball’s rules and scoring system. More homers. Hit ’em all the damn time!

Rangers 7, Twins 2: You write a team’s epitaph after it loses a couple of players for the year and then they go and win three straight and five of six. Remember: no one knows anything about anything in this friggin’ game. Even the fancy, self-proclaimed experts who write and talk about baseball for major media conglomerates. Especially the fancy, self-proclaimed experts who write and talk about baseball for major media conglomerates. We’re the worst.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk‘s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $18,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Tuesday night’s MLB games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on TuesdayHere’s the FanDuel link.

White Sox 6, Indians 2: Conor Gillaspie had four hits — three of them doubles — drove in one run and scored another. He’s also 24 for his last 59 over the past 16 games.

Cubs 8, Giants 4: Jeff Samardzija finally got his first win of the season following a ten-strikeout performance. This sorta bums me out. I mean, on the one hand it’s great that he finally got a modicum of run support after to many tough luck outings. On the other hand I was really looking forward to a zero-win pitcher starting the All-Star game.

Phillies 9, Rockies 0: Ryan Howard was 3 for 4 and drove in five. Here come the Philly fan readers who have gone silent for the past two years to argue about the guy’s contract not being so bad. They’ll retreat to the darkness again in a couple of days.

Diamondbacks 7, Padres 5: A.J. Pollock hit a two-out, two-run homer in the ninth for the walkoff win. And we finally have a definitive answer to who is being walked off when this sort of thing happens. Here’s Kirk Gibson after the game:

“We were standing there and we were saying `Let’s walk them off, let’s walk them off,” Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson said, “and he crushed the ball.”

Given that he hit perhaps the most definitive walkoff homer in history, I think Gibson gets to have the final word.

Mariners 5, Angels 1: Robinson Cano had three hits, drove in two and is hitting .332. Chris Young had a no hitter into the sixth and a shutout into the seventh.

Dodgers 4, Reds 3Hyun-Jin Ryu was perfect over the first seven innings before Todd Frazier led off the eighth with a double. So much for that. And so much for the shutout and stuff as the Reds scored three that innings. All three runs were charged to Ryu, but two of them scored thanks to Brian Wilson not being able to put out the fire all that effectively. But that’s all the Reds could do and the Dodgers held on for the win.

Blue Jays 10, Rays 5: That’s seven straight for the Jays thanks to another Edwin Encarnacion homer and a generalized offensive outburst. Dioner Navarro and Steve Tolleson had back to back homers and Melky Cabrera had three hits and three RBI too. Back to that Memorial Day comment: it ain’t too early anymore and the Jays are a couple of games ahead in the AL East.

Yankees 6, Cardinals 4: Brett Gardner had a leaping grab in the 11th to deprive Yadier Molina of either a homer or extra bases and then Brian Roberts came up big in the 12th with a bases-loaded single. I may be mangling this stat — I saw it on Twitter yesterday and can’t find it this morning — but I think this was only the 35th all-time game between the Yankees and the Cardinals, including World Series games. Which on the one hand is kind of understandable given that interleague hasn’t been around that long and for the bulk of it interleague was about divisional matchups, thus the two were not often pit against one another. On the other hand, the mental imagine I have of baseball history has the Yankees and Cardinals defining much of mid-century baseball history. Though I know better when I actually go year-by-year and think of who played in the World Series, I think of Yankees-Cardinals matchups as happening almost as much as Yankees-Dodgers matchups. Oh well.

Justin Turner is a postseason monster

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A not-insignificant amount of the Dodgers’ success in recent years has to do with the emergence of Justin Turner. In his first five seasons with the Orioles and Mets, he was a forgettable infielder who had versatility, but no power. The Mets non-tendered him after the 2013 season, a move they now really regret.

In four regular seasons since, as a Dodger, Turner has hit an aggregate .303/.378/.502. His 162-game averages over those four seasons: 23 home runs, 36 doubles, 83 RBI, 80 runs scored. And he’s also a pretty good third baseman, it turns out. The Dodgers have averaged 95 wins per season over the past four years.

Turner, 32, has gotten better and better with each passing year. This year, he drew more walks (59) than strikeouts (56), a club only five other players (min. 300 PA) belonged to, and he trailed only Joey Votto (1.61) in BB/K ratio (1.05). He zoomed past his previous career-high in OPS, finishing at .945. His .415 on-base percentage was fourth-best in baseball. His batting average was fifth-best and only nine points behind NL batting champion Charlie Blackmon.

It doesn’t seem possible, but Turner has been even better in the postseason. He exemplified that with his walk-off home run to win Game 2 of the NLCS against the Cubs. Overall, entering Wednesday night’s action, he was batting .363/.474/.613 in 97 postseason plate appearances. In Game 4, he went 2-for-2 with two walks, a single, and a solo home run. That increases his postseason slash line to .378/.495/.659, now across 101 plate appearances. That’s a 1.154 OPS. The career-high regular season OPS for future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols was 1.114 in 2008, when he won his third career MVP Award. Statistically, in the postseason, Turner hits slightly better than Pujols did in the prime of his career. Of course, we should adjust for leagues and parks and all that, but to even be in that neighborhood is incredible.

In the age of stats, the concept of “clutch” has rightfully eroded. We don’t really allow players to ascend to godlike levels anymore like the way we did Derek Jeter, for instance. (Jeter’s career OPS in the playoffs, by the way, was a comparatively pitiful .838.) Turner isn’t clutch; he’s just a damn good hitter whose careful approach at the plate has allowed him to shine in the postseason and the Dodgers can’t imagine life without him.