And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Cubs 2, Indians 1: Jon Lester was close to a complete game shutout but Carlos Santana had different ideas when he hit an RBI double in the ninth. No worries, though, because the Cubs are covered in pixie dust this year and Kris Bryant used it to hit a walkoff homer to give the Cubs their 20th win in their last 24 games. The Cubs would lead four of the six divisions in baseball this year. They’re in third place in the NL Central.

Yankees 1, Astros 0: Another walkoff, though a tad lest dramatic given that it was a sac fly. Not that this wasn’t an exciting game given that you had two pitchers — Nate Eovaldi and Scott Feldman — tossing eight shutout innings against each other. This could easily be an ALDS matchup. If so, and something like this happened in October, such a game would be an instant classic.

Mets 16, Phillies 7: Welcome back David Wright! Wright homered in his return from over four months on the disabled list. Not that he was alone here: Mets batters had 15 extra-base hits including eight home runs. Lost in this is Jacob deGrom giving up seven runs on eight hits and failing to escape the third inning, but I feel like that’s OK on a night like this.

Braves 5, Rockies 3: Yesterday, after I wrote that thing about team chemistry, I made some jokes on Twitter about how if chemistry matters so much why isn’t Team Leader and Super Chemistry Guy Jonny Gomes leading the Braves to victory after victory. Overall he isn’t, of course, but in this one he did, driving in three including a three-run homer. The Braves snap a seven-game losing streak. Maybe Gomes was the spark for that here, but I suppose playing the team that now has the worst record in baseball will do that for you too.

Reds 12, Tigers 5: This was a makeup game from an earlier rainout. The Tigers probably wish it had rained again. At least heading into the bottom of the sixth. At that time they had a 5-0 lead and things were just dandy. That’s when Buck Farmer ran out of gas and allowed three runs and was followed up by a bullpen which allowed seven more before the inning was over. Brandon Phillips drove in four runs with a home run and a triple in that inning as the Reds snap their nine-game losing streak. Joey Votto hit a two-run homer in the eighth to cap things off, but I assume his many critics in Cincinnati will say that was just garbage time, stat-padding work, not actually good baseball.

Pirates 5, Marlins 2: A couple of plunkings and a high inside from Marlins relievers which seemed more a function of incompetence than intent, though it did lead to one ejection. Both the plunkees ended up scoring too. Meanwhile J.A. Happ threw six scoreless innings as one of the best teams in baseball beat one of the worst.

Red Sox 5, White Sox 4: Sox win. Rusney Castillo was 3-for-4, homered and drove in all five of the Red Sox’ runs.

Royals 8, Orioles 3: Kris Medlen made his first start in almost two years and got the win, thanks to the Royals putting up a seven-spot after he left the game but while he was still the pitcher of record. Omar Infante tripled in two runs in that inning and scored on the same play thanks to a throwing error. The day before he was out trying to stretch a triple into an inside-the-park homer. In one day he has learned jiu-jitsu and the art of making your opponent beat himself.

Cardinals 5, Diamondbacks 3: Lance Lynn pitched in trouble all night but his defense bailed him out with four double plays, including one with Paul Goldschmidt at the plate with one out and the bases loaded. Overall Arizona stranded 11 runners.

Athletics 11, Mariners 5: Another club with a big inning, this time the A’s with a seven-run fifth. Oakland was down 5-0 at the time but a Danny Valencia homer and two Stephen Vogt doubles helped them claw back.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉