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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Friday’s slate featured Joe Mauer‘s first career walk-off home run, Zack Greinke‘s impressive run at Coors Field, and Tommy Pham’s breakthrough at the plate. Here are the rest of last night’s scores and highlights:

Yankees 3, Cubs 2: Brett Gardner has been on a tear lately, and Friday was no exception. Down 2-0 in the ninth inning, the Yankees’ left fielder deposited a three-run homer just under the scoreboard in Wrigley Field, his sixth such blast in six games.

Behind Gardner’s game-winning knock, the Yankees turned in a solid performance against the Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks. Michael Pineda allowed two runs and struck out six batters in six innings (and recorded his first hit as a Yankee, to boot), and Aroldis Chapman capped the bullpen’s three scoreless innings with his seventh save of the season.

Reds 13, Giants 3: Amid the Reds’ 13-run onslaught, the Giants’ Christian Arroyo did something cool: he hit a home run off of Bronson Arroyo. (Get it? It’s cool because they have the same last name. Oh, and they attended the same high school, too, albeit 18 years apart.)

Despite the nifty coincidence, the Giants lost badly after Matt Cain imploded, allowing ten hits, nine runs and six walks and leaving the bullpen to bear the remaining four runs and seal their 19th loss of the year.

Pirates 4, Brewers 0: A two-hour, 27-minute rain delay dampened the Brewers’ chances of getting a run on Friday evening. The gloomy weather forced starter Chad Kuhl to pitch through just three innings before the tarp was rolled out, and when the rain finally let up, Wade LeBlanc took the mound — and the win — in his stead. LeBlanc helped the Pirates’ efforts at the plate, too, contributing his first RBI base hit since 2011 and lifting the club to a 3-0 lead in the fourth.

Orioles 4, White Sox 2: The Orioles had to improvise a new game plan after Wade Miley exited in the first inning, taking back-to-back line drives off of his left wrist and leg. Luckily, Miley’s injuries were minor, and Baltimore soldiered on with right-hander Gabriel Ynoa, who tossed six scoreless frames to hold a 2-0 lead through the seventh inning. It didn’t hurt that Chris Davis had a monster night as well, going 3-for-3 with a 427-foot home run to clinch the Orioles’ 18th win of the year.

Mets 8, Marlins 7: If the Mets were concerned about their four-run deficit, they didn’t show it. Following a catastrophic six-run inning, during which they issued six hits, an intentional walk and a hit by pitch to the Marlins, the Mets rebounded for a five-run spread in the seventh, collecting two RBI singles and an RBI double to knot the score 7-7. The game-winning knock was decidedly less impressive, ending on Wilmer Flores’ bases-loaded walk to drive in the go-ahead run and cement the Mets’ first win of the series.

Blue Jays 8, Rays 4: If there’s unresolved beef between the Blue Jays and Rays, Kevin Kiermaier doesn’t want any part of it. The Rays center fielder was forced to exit in the fourth inning of Friday’s 8-4 win after taking a 91.5 m.p.h. fastball to his right hand. It was unclear whether or not the hit by pitch was intentional, but it follows another tense moment between the teams from last Sunday, when Chris Archer appeared to target Jose Bautista with a pitch that just missed the slugger’s hip. “Who knows what his thought process is or anything,” Kiermaier told reporters following the game, “but any time you miss up and in, I think us batters, no matter what the situation, you have a reason to be mad about it.”

Cardinals 10, Braves 0: Tommy Pham has been a kind of enigma for the Cardinals over the last four years, but one thing was clear during last night’s win: the center fielder can rake.

Behind Pham’s breakout? Not tweaked mechanics or a new swing, but contact lenses. The 29-year-old’s new lenses helped him manage a chronic eye disease called kertoconus, which causes blurry vision due to a misshapen cornea, allowing him to literally see the ball and hit it.

Nationals 4, Phillies 2: Some historical records are better left unbroken. Just ask Nationals’ reliever Matt Albers, who snapped his 102-game streak of games finished without a save during Friday’s series opener against the Phillies. Albers converted his first save opportunity in the ninth inning, plunking Cesar Hernandez before inducing two strikeouts and a game-ending groundout from Maikel Franco.

It was a grueling path to the most basic benchmark for relief pitchers, taking Albers through 12 seasons in the majors and bringing him within three games of tying former major leaguer Ryan Webb and his 105-game streak. No one else has come within miles of the record, which is now being chased by the Giants’ George Kontos, with 63 consecutive games finished sans save.

Twins 4, Red Sox 3: It took Joe Mauer 14 years and 132 home runs, but circumstance and power finally aligned for his first career walk-off homer during Friday’s 4-3 nail-biter against the Red Sox. After leading 3-1 through eight innings, Minnesota hurler Brandon Kintzler handed Boston the game-tying runs in the ninth, allowing Chris Young a two-RBI single that threatened to bring extra innings. In the bottom of the ninth, Eddie Rosario and Kenny Vargas grounded out in consecutive at-bats, and Mauer worked a 1-2 count before belting the walk-off homer:

Royals 3, Indians 1: There’s no stopping Eric Hosmer this week. The Royals’ power-hitting first baseman had a banner night on Friday, highlighted by a career-best 458-foot home run that effectively quashed the Indians’ chances of making a comeback. Danny Salazar, despite his best efforts, couldn’t pitch around the zone to retire Hosmer and found his first-pitch fastball down the middle parked well beyond the right field wall.

Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 3: Few visiting pitchers have gone undefeated in the homer-happy confines of Coors Field, but then again, few pitchers are as dominant as Zack Greinke. The Diamondbacks’ right-hander lasted seven innings in Friday’s series opener, issuing two runs and striking out seven to bring the D-backs within half a game of the division lead.

In eight career starts at Coors Field, Greinke is 3-0 with a 4.14 ERA in 50 innings. He has yet to lose a game in Colorado, and at least on Friday night, found his win streak upheld by a strong showing from Paul Goldschmidt (3-for-3 with two home runs and an RBI single) and the rest of the D-backs’ lineup. His only thoughts on the streak?

“I hate pitching here,” Greinke told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. “It’s really tough.”

Tigers 7, Athletics 2: Michael Fulmer‘s resume is looking good these days. The former AL Rookie of the Year handcrafted eight innings against the Athletics, striking out a season-high nine batters and allowing two runs on eight hits. The A’s got a bit of a breather in the ninth inning, when Oakland outfielder Rajai Davis recorded his 1,000th career hit, but left their only baserunner stranded and dropped the game by a five-run deficit.

Astros 7, Angels 6 (10 innings): The Astros clawed their way to the best record in the American League on Friday, battling through 10 innings before Carlos Correa‘s two-out RBI single sent them home with their 20th win.

The last time Houston started the season this well was in 1973, when they jumped out to a 20-10 record before regressing to a fourth-place finish in the NL West. The landscape of the West division was a little different than it is today, and it was the 99-63 Reds who pocketed the division title that year, leaving the Astros to labor through another seven seasons before getting their first chance at the playoffs in 1980.

Dodgers 8, Padres 2: With Adrian Gonzalez on the disabled list for the first time in his career, it was up to rookie first baseman Cody Bellinger to make his presence felt in the lineup on Friday. The 21-year-old rose to the occasion, catapulting a pair of home runs to put the Dodgers on the board in the fourth inning and boost them to a six-run lead in the ninth.

Even more remarkable: it marked Bellinger’s second two-homer game of the season. Add those totals to a .303/.361/.576 batting line through his first 36 PA, and it’s clear the rookie has made a home for himself in the big leagues.

“The best thing for our team right now is for Cody to keep playing, because he is playing well, and let me get right,” Gonzalez told MLB.com’s Tim Powers. “Obviously, if he keeps playing well, he should be in the lineup. But when I’m ready, when I’m right, I know I can contribute and we’ll reassess at that point.”

Rangers 3, Mariners 1 (13 innings): It’s been a taxing week for the Mariners’ pitching staff. After Hisashi Iwakuma‘s injury scare on Wednesday and James Paxton‘s forearm strain on Friday, the last thing Seattle needed was a five-hour marathon designed to wear out the rest of their staff. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what they got. The Rangers cycled through eight of Seattle’s pitchers, collecting seven hits and a game-winning, two-run shot by Rougned Odor to take the win after 13 innings.

Alan Trammell’s Hall of Fame election validates a child’s baseball memories

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla — My great uncle Harry was a boat salesman in Detroit. He had some Tigers front office types as clients so he got a lot of free tickets to Tigers games. and he’d use them to take my brother and me to Tiger Stadium several times a year. We were always right behind home plate.

My parents tell me that I went to my first game in Tiger Stadium on the Fourth of July, 1978. I was too young to remember a thing about that one. The first one I do remember was June 17, 1979. A few years ago I tracked down the box score for that game on Baseball-Reference.com to get all of the details, but before I knew all of the specifics I remembered the important details: it was a day game against the California Angels and Alan Trammell hit a home run. He instantly became my favorite player. I was not quite six years old.

Like any other kid who has a favorite player, I obsessed over him. I collected every one of his baseball cards. I looked for his name in every box score. When I played Little League I begged the coach to let me play shortstop even though I had no business playing shortstop (the coach did let me wear number 3 at least). I made sure that, when a Tigers game was on TV, no one turned it off until Trammell had come to bat at least once.

On one occasion I even sort of stalked him.

My grandparents lived in Detroit and rumor had it that Trammell rented a house just down the street from them during the season. Once, when we were visiting my grandmother, my brother and I walked to the house and knocked on the door. A woman in her 20s answered it. We presumed it to be his wife or girlfriend. We asked if Alan Trammell was there. She said no and shut the door on us. At the time we assumed that, darn our luck, he had already left to go to the ballpark that day. In hindsight I realized that it probably wasn’t his house, and that the woman, while taciturn to the point of being misleading, was technically telling the truth. The point here is that back then I just liked to assume that Alan Trammell lived two doors down from my grandparents. A kid will believe a lot about his hero ballplayer in order to be closer to him.

My thing for Trammell continued for a good decade or so. By the end of that decade it seemed plain to me that was the greatest shortstop in the history of baseball and anyone else who didn’t recognize that was simply irrational. With nearly 40 years of hindsight, I now know that Trammell wasn’t the greatest shortstop in baseball history. Probably. He was damn good, though.

After I moved away from Michigan and Trammell’s career began to wind down, Greg Maddux became my favorite player. It was a different thing with him — I was too old for a baseball player to be my hero, exactly — but it’s the case that I thought less about Trammell than I had in the 80s. That probably would’ve happened naturally, but there were other factors which worked to make me think of Trammell less than I did when I was younger.

It’s easy to get jaded if you spend enough time writing about baseball. I’ve never stopped loving or enjoying the game, but if you focus most of your life on it, you end up seeing so many amazing things that you forget some of the other amazing stuff you’ve seen. In my case, I’ve pushed out a lot of the stuff I enjoyed when I was a kid. I didn’t do it on purpose. It just happened. There is only so much baseball you can hold in your head at once and I have a lot of baseball in my head.

Part of me pushing Trammell out of my head was defensive, though. He first made the Hall of Fame ballot in 2002. He didn’t get even 20% of the vote until his ninth year. He never got as much as 37% of the vote. It pained me to see the Hall of Fame voters — many of whom would eventually become my friends and colleagues — fail to recognize him year after year. I get why that happened. Trammell was a bit of an odd duck for his era. After decades of being used to heavy leather, light bat shortstops, Hall of Fame voters weren’t ready for a guy at that position who could play gold glove defense, hit for both average and power and take an occasional walk. At the very least they weren’t ready to process several of them at once. Cal Ripken and Robin Yount, understandably, filled up that space in their heads while Ozzie Smith impressed upon them that the traditional shortstop archetype remained strong. There just wasn’t room for Tram their minds.

But even if his being overlooked was somewhat understandable, it was still painful. It seemed like a rebuke of my childhood memories. I’m not a sentimental guy. I don’t believe in that whole fathers-and-sons-passing-baseball-down-from-generation-to-generation thing. But I did wonder why I’d bother taking my kids to the Hall of Fame if I could not go into the plaque room and see my Hall of Fame-worthy boyhood idol. Why should I care about the Hall of Fame if, as far as it was concerned, Alan Trammell was an invisible man? Alan Trammell happened. I saw it. I saw him do all of those great things and, because of the manner in which baseball history is chronicled and remembered, he was forgotten in some important way. It pissed me off.

I never thought Trammell would make the Hall of Fame. Not for a moment. I knew a couple of years in that the BBWAA wouldn’t vote him in and I had no confidence, until the moment I heard the news of his election last night, that the Veteran’s Committee would ever give him his due. But they did.

It was a shock and a surprise. When I heard he made it I stopped what I was doing and just sat back dumbfounded. Happy. Flooded with memories of watching Trammell play when I was a kid and he was my favorite player. Happy that, after years and years of almost wondering if I was the only person alive who watched him play, my childhood memories were validated. Validated in a way that I never thought was really necessary but, now that it has happened, makes me feel better than I did before. Better about baseball. Better about baseball history. Better about the memories I had that, for a while, I began to even question since no one else seemed to remember Trammell like I did.

This old man’s memories of Alan Trammell aren’t all that important. Baseball memories of old men have had more than their fair share of validation over the years to the point where baseball history is almost distorted as a result. But what of the baseball memories of younger generations?

The Baseball Hall of Fame and its voters have seen fit to shun the baseball greats of the 1990s and 2000s. A host of them — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Manny Ramirez and others — are now and likely forever will be kept out of the Hall of Fame. We certainly have not forgotten those players, but we’re not honoring them.

The Hall and its voters will eagerly explain to you why that is. It’s about ethics and morality and authenticity and all of that, they say. I’m not sure, however, why that would matter to a person who, when they were six-year-old, was amazed by their feats and exploits. I’m not sure how an entire generation of people who became baseball fans as a result of those players should be made to feel that their memories are somehow not worth memorializing. Why they should be expected to go to the Hall of Fame with their children if they can’t walk into the plaque room and say “there’s the greatest player I ever saw.”

Until last night I discounted that feeling. I don’t think I’ll discount it anymore.