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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Giants 6, Reds 1: Six straight for Madison Bumgarner as he allows one run on three hits over eight innings. Fun times: I spent part of last night in Columbus’ wonderful Bob’s Bar — The Cultural Hub of the Midwest — and they were showing a replay of this game. Dude next to me thought the bright sunshine on the field was because the game was in San Francisco and that we were watching it live. I’d like to spend some time in his head for a while.

Astros 8, Angels 5: Jose Altuve drove in two, George Springer three and each had two a piece in the Astros’ four-run eighth inning. My favorite line of the night goes to Chris Carter, though: 0 for 0, four walks, no runs scored. There’s something beautiful about that, even if it amounted to nothing. It’s like some pure statement of purpose made with little heed for its practical impact. I shall walk.

Marlins 11, Rays 6: Ten losses in a row for the Rays. Figure they’re a couple of losses away from petitioning for the “Devil” to be returned to their name. Macrell Ozuna homered and drove in four. Something called Jacob Realmuto had three RBI in his major league debut. That sorta sounds like a made-up name. Like “Rollo Tomasi” or something.

Blue Jays 7, Tigers 3: The Blue Jays are an absolute buzzsaw right now. And no one saw it coming. Anyone who did is a liar. Six runs off of Justin Verlander, five of them earned. A serviceable outing from J.A. Happ. Just not the sort of things you might expect.

Cubs 7, Mets 4: And the Mets are swept. Travis Wood pitched five decent innings and, though he didn’t get the win, he hit a homer and drove in three. He was a one man gang, really. Like this.

Royals 3, Cardinals 2:  Yordano Ventura won it and was effective, but it was weird that he pitched to contact, relied on his defense and only struck out one. I’d like to see a few more starts out of him to know that he’s feeling better. Lots of dudes with hurt elbows were able to crafty-their-way to a a win here and there. I’d like to see him airing it out and snapping off wicked stuff before we feel better about him.

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

Nationals 4, Phillies 2: The sweep. Highlighted by Doug Fister doing this. You’re the man now, Dog.

Yankees 2, Athletics 1: Tanaka tames the A’s. He’s pretty much the lone bright spot for the Yankees this year, yes? He and Dellin Betances, maybe. Beyond that it’s pretty much “meh,” right? We’re all waiting for A-Rod to come back next year and save everyone.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 7: It was just a few weeks ago when people were all like “that Rockies pitching is not terrible. This could be a difference-maker for them!” My feelings were “Let’s give it some time. It’ll get warmer and drier in Colorado and then people are gonna start knocking the ball all over the place.” Well, they just dropped a three-game series to Arizona while giving up 32 runs on 48 hits. Overall the Rockies have lost seven straight and 11 of 13. So, welp.

Rangers 8, Orioles 6: The Rangers blew a 5-0 lead but scored three in the seventh thanks in part to two J.J. Hardy errors which, gah, what are the odds of that happening?

Brewers 8, Twins 5: The Brewers were down 4-0 thanks to a third inning grand slam by Oswaldo Arcia, but then they clawed back with a three-run shot by Carlos Gomez and a two-run shot by Khris Davis. Jonathan Lucroy’s two-run blast n the ninth gave them some insurance.

White Sox ballpark to be renamed “Guaranteed Rate Field”

CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 10:  General view as members of the Chicago White Sox and the Minnesota Twins stand for the National Anthem before the White Sox home opener at U.S. Cellular Field on April 10, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
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Stadium naming rights have long been with us. They’re just a part of the sports landscape now. Some are pretty spiffy despite their corporate underwriting: “Great American Ballpark” could be the name of a sports facility even if it wasn’t also the name of an insurance company. “Progressive Field” could be the name of a field even an anti-corporate dude like Bernie Sanders could appreciate, at least if he’s sloppy with capitalization.

Others are clunky: “Globe Life Park in Arlington” seems to have both adjective and preposition problems, as if it were run through a foreign language translator and then back again to English. The joint in Oakland went by the name O.co Coliseum for a spell. That was for Overstock.com, but it didn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

At the risk of being snobbish, I think it’s fair to say that there are also higher and lower rent names as well. Banks, airlines and beer companies, however crassly commercial they are, seem a bit more respectable and venerable than, say, the fly-by-night dot com companies which named sports facilities for several years. “Chase” and “Coors” aren’t going anyplace. Those places are named after American institutions, even if they’re still corporate institutions. I’m pretty sure that circa 2001 half the stadiums and arenas in the country were named after businesses still being run out of tech incubators in nondescript office parks, their first biggest investment being the naming rights, their second biggest investment being the ping pong table in the break room.

The White Sox have long played in “U.S. Cellular Field.” This is pretty dicey as it is, given that that company is only a regional wireless provider. Fifth largest in the country. Certainly not A-list, and likely far more identifiable to more Americans as the name of a ballpark than the name of a going telecommunications concern, thereby sort of defeating the purpose of naming rights. Which must be why U.S. Cellular is getting out of the naming rights business, leaving the White Sox to find a different naming rights partner:

As the tenth largest mortgage company in the country, is there even any guarantee that Guaranteed Rate will be in business in 2030? If the choices are “it goes under,” “it gets purchased by a larger lender” and “it’s still there,” I am not putting money on the latter choice.

That aside, it’s just a goofy name for a ballpark. It’ll better lend itself to columnist jokes about bad guaranteed contracts for bust veterans than it will to spreading awareness of a financial services company. And don’t even get me started on the dissonance between the ballpark name and its tenant’s ticket price policies:

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Best work on that, guys.

UPDATE: LOL

 

Phillies’ Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz cleared waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 10:  Ryan Howard #6 of the Philadelphia Phillies follows through on a 3 RBI double in the ninth inning off of Kenley Jansen #74 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 10,  2016 in Los Angeles, California. Phillies won 6-2.  (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jayson Stark reports that Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard and catcher Carlos Ruiz have both cleared waivers, which means the club can attempt to trade either player unimpeded. Stark adds that two teams are mulling a pursuit of Ruiz, but Howard is “virtually certain” to stay with the Phillies.

Howard, 36, has unimpressive overall stats, as he’s carrying a .198/.252/.445 triple-slash line with 19 home runs and 43 RBI in 286 plate appearances. The Phillies have limited Howard to right-handed pitching by platooning him with Tommy Joseph.

Shockingly, Howard has been one of the best hitters of the second half, as Corinne Landrey explains at FanGraphs. Using wRC+, an all encompassing offensive statistic that sets 100 at average, only Joey Votto has been a more productive hitter since the All-Star break, owning a 226 wRC+ to Howard’s 191. Howard is trailed by Freddie Freeman (179), Adrian Gonzalez (149), and Paul Goldschmidt (140).

Howard is owed the remainder of his $25 million salary for the 2016 season as well as a $10 million buyout for ’17. Despite Howard’s productive second half and even if the Phillies were to cover all of the remaining money owed, there won’t be much of a market for an inconsistent 1B/DH in his mid-30’s who can’t field, can’t run, and can’t hit left-handed pitching.

Ruiz, 37, has had a solid season, batting .261/.368/.352 in 193 plate appearances. Like Howard, Ruiz has lost playing time at his primary position to a younger player — Cameron Rupp, in this case. Ruiz is owed the remainder of his $8.5 million salary and is under contract next season if his controlling club picks up his $4.5 million option. That option may make him even more attractive to interested clubs, as Ruiz is still a valuable catcher. He has accrued 1.3 Wins Above Replacement despite limited playing time and has a reputation for working well with his pitchers. A playoff-bound club could do a lot worse.