And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 6, Rockies 3: Chase Utley tied it on an RBI single in the ninth and then Ryan Howard hit a walkoff three-run bomb. Thing is, LaTroy Hawkins should’ve had the game closed out before either of those guys came to the plate, but Josh Rutledge had a throwing error which allowed both Utley and Howard to bat with two outs.

Athletics 3, Tigers 1: Another game, another wakoff three-run home run. This one from Josh Donaldson off Joe Nathan, who was trying to preserve a 1-0 lead handed to him by a dominant-until-the-ninth Anibal Sanchez. That threw the win to the equally deserving Scott Kazmir, who allowed only one run while going the distance.

White Sox 3, Indians 2: Moises Sierra drove in the winning run with a walkoff single. Both T.J. House for the Indians and Hector Noesi for the Sox pitched some pretty spiffy baseball, but neither factored in to the decision. Jason Giambi hit his 440th home run. Then he and his mule went back into the canyon, ready to scare off any other snoopers who come nosing around to jump his claim.

Mets 5, Pirates 0: Bartolo Colon tossed a shutout into the eighth and was at the plate for the wild pitch that scored the first Mets run. And he looked like this as he swung at it:

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In his defense, he looks like that when he swings at everything. And he’s 0 for 17 on the year with ten strikeouts. I feel like the DH in the NL is inevitable, but I also want them to wait until Bartolo Colon is done playing in the NL because how can you deprive us of this, Baseball Gods?

Astros 9, Royals 3: Another game, another homer for George Springer. That’s nine in May for him. Chris Carter homered twice. The Astros sweep the Royals, who have lost four in a row.

Giants 5, Cubs 0: Six Giants pitchers, led off by Tim Lincecum, combine for a two-hit shutout of the Cubs. Despite only two hits, the Cubs had ten base runners as Giants pitchers walked five and hit a batter and two more Cubs reached on errors. They couldn’t convert, though.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 2: That’s nine straight for Toronto, this one coming on a walkoff E-1 following a bunt to the pitcher. The other two runs scored on an RBI single by Edwin Encarnacion in the first.

Marlins 8, Nationals 5: Miami blew a 4-0 lead but the Nats bullpen fell apart in the tenth with Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett allowing four runs of their own. Henderson Alvarez left this one for the Marlins with elbow stiffness. Sadly that’s not too rare a thing in baseball this year.

Red Sox 4, Braves 0: John Lackey pitched a shutout into the seventh and Sox hitters dinked and dunked Gavin Floyd and Alex Wood to death. Three straight wins for Boston now. This one coming on Idiots Day at Fenway.

Brewers 8, Orioles 3: Nelson Cruz hit homers 18 and 19, but they came in a losing effort. Ryan Braun’s two-run double and Khris Davis’ three-run homer came in a winning effort.

Rangers 1, Twins 0: Joe Saunders and four relievers combine for the shutout, with their only run of support coming on a Luis Sardinas single in the seventh. Not bad for Saunders, who was making his first start in two months.

Yankees 7, Cardinals 4: Hiroki Kuroda won on the road for the first time in 11 starts, stretching back to last year. Jacoby Ellsbury had three hits and three RBI. The Yankees take the series. Brian McCann started at first base and went 2 for 4. So that was something.

Diamondbacks 12, Padres 6: An eight-run first for Arizona pretty much ended this one before it started. Dbacks starter Chase Anderson got 18 runs of support in the start before this one. He’s gonna get spoiled.

Mariners 3, Angels 1: King Felix took a shutout into the ninth and struck out nine. Mike Zunino drove in both of the M’s runs, one on a solo shot.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw pitched OK, but Homer Bailey pitched better. Yasiel Puig hit a solo homer, but Brandon Phillips hit a two-run shot. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you.

 

What in the heck is Derek Jeter doing with the Marlins?

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Last night we linked the Miami Herald story about the Marlins firing special assistants Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

The firings themselves are eyebrow-raising inasmuch as “special assistants” like that are rarely key front office personnel. Former players, Hall of Famers and former managers like those guys are really ambassadors for the team and, particularly in the case of Jeff Conine, who is known as “Mr. Marlin,” why would new ownership want to kick its ambassadors to the curb? It’s not like you can just hire a bunch of new franchise legends for he role. Who ya gonna call? Dan Uggla?

Sure, I can see an argument for changing their responsibilities. If they actually had say in baseball operations, I can see new ownership wanting to relieve them of those duties. It’s also possible that Jeff Loria paid them too much money for guys who are only team ambassadors. So, sure, if the job is too cushy by the standards of the gig, I could see Jeter cutting their pay or their duties to make it conform to what other clubs do with their former stars. Maybe that makes them want to quit. If so, that’s OK I suppose.

Beyond that, however, it’s hard to see why you would NOT want guys like Conine, Dawson, Perez and McKeon to represent your club in the community and in the service of impressing prospective season ticket holders. The franchise’s first star player, a Hall of Famer who ended his career with the club, another Hall of Famer who is from Cuba (which is kind of a big deal in a place like Miami) and the manager who brought the club its last World Series championship are exactly who you want to represent your team. Especially when nearly everything else about your team has, for so very long, alienated the very public you want supporting it.

But let’s say, for the moment, that there was a good reason to fire those guys. Let’s say they’re all flaming jackwagons who have secretly poisoned the franchise from within. Let’s say that, despite his grandfatherly charm, Jack McKeon is a ruthless Machiavellian. Let’s say that Conine, Dawson and Perez beat up copy boys in the stairwells and microwave leftover fish in the break room every day. Even if that’s the case, how does this happen?

And here’s the twist: Jeter asked Marlins president David Samson to fire those four Marlins luminaries for him, because Jeter didn’t want to do it.

Even more strange, Jeter made the request after telling Samson what he already knew: that Samson would not be returning as team president.

It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I’m not sure how Samson doesn’t tell Jeter, “Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself.” Of course, one can only project one’s own sensibility on a guy like David Samson so much, so let’s cut him a bit of slack here. We don’t know how the conversation went. Maybe Samson was happy to tell those guys to hit the bricks.

But really, how doesn’t Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It’s not because he’s not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. Maybe there is more to this than the Herald story lets on, but as it stands now, it comes off as cowardice on Jeter’s part. It’s a really bad look.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter an credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. It has to be one or the other.

Derek Jeter has been a teflon star for more than two decades, but two of the few things the media loves more than Derek Jeter are (a) old Baseball Men like McKeon, Dawson, Perez and Conine; and (b) “classiness.” It’ll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter for seeming content to dispense with both.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.