Lloyd McClendon, Tony Randazzp

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 8, Tigers 1: Chris Young continues a nice stretch of pitching, putting up six shutout innings helping the M’s to the series victory against their strongest competition for the wild card. Kyle Seager drove in three.  Lloyd McClendon was ejected by umpire Tony Randazzo for the second game in a row because, in Randazzo’s words, McCleandon “took his hand and shooed away my call.” In other news, if Tony Randazzo is so easily upset, he is a big friggin’ baby who probably doesn’t have any business umpiring at the major league level.

Brewers 7, Dodgers 2: All the smart kids have been assuming the Brewers were just gonna stop playing well eventually, but they haven’t. To the point where now they’re sending messages about potential October playoff meetings with teams like the Dodgers, sweeping them in this three-game series. And still, I guarantee, sometime in the next week someone will ask me when the Brewers are going to turn into a pumpkin. Welp, maybe they’re not?

Giants 5, Phillies 2: The Phillies had their chances early against a shaky Tim Lincecum, but he never did break. And then Michael Morse just kept doing what he’s been doing lately in getting on base. Indeed, he’s reached base in nine straight plate appearances. Don’t ask him what he’s doing though. His quote after the game was about how he’s looking for pitches to hit. Hope no one gets mad at him for revealing the innermost secrets of the hitting fraternity.

Rangers 3, Angels 2: Huston Street came in to lock down a 2-1 lead in the ninth but couldn’t get the job done. He gave up four straight singles in the ninth without retiring a batter, allowing Adam Rosales to get the walkoff RBI. He was pretty efficient about it, though. Only ten pitches to lose the lead and the game. I’m sure his teammates were grateful that he didn’t drag things out and allowed everyone to get to the airport in a timely fashion.

Cardinals 7, Padres 6: Matt Carpenter homered, doubled and drove in three and while Trevor Rosenthal tried his hardest to give up the lead in the ninth, the Cards held on. Adam Wainwright got his 15th win, tying him with Johnny Cueto for the league lead.

Royals 12, Twins 6: Seven runs in the second innings — invoking ATH’s patented seven-run inning rule — and five more for good measure for the Royals. Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez and Josh Willingham homered, and Kansas City has now won 20 of 25. And their lead in the Central is now a game and a half.

Marlins 10, Diamondbacks 3: Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in four. He has 32 homers and 88 RBI on the season. The homer total leads all of baseball. The RBI total leads the National League. He went 7 for 14 with four walks and six RBI against the Dbacks in the four game series.

White Sox 7, Blue Jays 5: The Chisox jumped out to a 6-1 lead in the first thanks in part to a Conor Gillaspie grand slam. The real hero of this game, however, was the throwback uni the Sox wore. Which are always awesome:

source: Reuters

Cubs 2, Mets 1: Starlin Castro hit a tiebreaking homer on the first pitch of the ninth inning to put the Cubs ahead to stay. And of course the game story is focused on how good he’d look in a Mets uniform because that’s how it always goes with New York teams for some reason. Yes, I get that the Cubs could deal Castro given the value he has now and given the infield prospects they have coming up through the system, but rarely do you hear such open covetousness about other team’s players for the non-New York teams.

Yankees 4, Rays 2: Hiroki Kuroda gave up two runs and four hits in six and two-thirds and Brett Gardner drove in two. The Yankees are three back in the loss-column from the second wild card. I keep figuring they’ll slide out of it, but they sort of keep hanging around. I figure we’ll start to see a lot of “Derek Jeter has willed a flawed team to stay in contention” stories soon. Can’t wait.

Astros 8, Red Sox 1: Jose Altuve hit a grand slam. He got the chance to do it because Xander Bogaerts fired the ball to first base early — before stepping on the second base bag — on what should have been a double play. Instead he only got the force out at first, leaving two men on with two outs. A walk later and Altuve went yard. After that the game was never close again. Oops.

Orioles 4, Indians 1: The O’s avoid being swept for the first time since May. Kevin Gausman allowed one run over six. Despite the bad overall weekend the O’s still sport a seven-game lead in the East.

Nationals 6, Pirates 5: Both closers — Rafael Soriano and Mark Melancon — blew leads in the ninth. Then pinch-hitter Scott Hairston hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the 11th to give the Nats the sweep. the Pirates have lost five straight. Pittsburgh is falling out of the NL Central race. And if they’re not careful, they’re going to fall out of the wild card race too.

Braves 4, Athletics 3: Just when I’m about to declare the Braves dead and start to transition into the acceptance stage of grieving this season they do something like sweep the best team in baseball, capped by defeating Jon Lester. That keeps the A’s — who have lost five straight — in a tie with the Angels. And keeps the Braves within a game and a half of the wild card. Not going to declare Atlanta alive or anything, but I suppose that’s not dead.

Rockies 10, Reds 9; Reds vs. Rockies: Colorado rallied for five runs in the ninth of game one, overcoming a 9-5 deficit with a three-run homer from former Red Drew Stubbs. Four of those runs came off of Aroldis Chapman, who didn’t record an out, walking all four batters he faced. Which, holy crap, that never happens. Three hits overall for Stubbs. The nightcap: Michael Cuddyer hits for the cycle as the Rockiesput up another 10-spot. In other news, Michael Cuddyer is still alive and playing.

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.