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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Friday’s games featured extra-inning drama between the Reds and Giants, Joe Biagini‘s first win of the year and Matt Harvey‘s unsuccessful return from a three-day suspension. Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Astros 5, Yankees 1: There’s little doubt as to why the Astros currently have a lock on the AL West. Lance McCullers Jr. fired seven strikeouts in six shutout innings against the Yankees on Friday, backed by a strong showing from the bullpen that didn’t see a run until Didi Gregorius’ ninth-inning RBI single. At the plate, it was all up to Brian McCann, who unleashed a three-run bomb in the fourth inning to secure the Astros’ four-run lead and improve to 25 wins on the season.

If you’ve been keeping track, that’s the Astros’ fifth consecutive win of the week, making their 25-11 record the best in either league.

Blue Jays 4, Mariners 0: It was a good day for Joe Biagini, who prevailed in a five spotless innings against the Mariners to secure his first win as a starting pitcher. The Blue Jays are in a tight spot with the bulk of their starters sitting on the disabled list, and it looks like Biagini may provide some answers for the rotation going forward. He was helped by a four-run effort from the Jays’ lineup, who scored on two productive outs and a two-run shot by Jose Bautista to keep the Mariners at bay.

Braves 8, Marlins 4: The Marlins are off to a rocky start this year, a point that was only reinforced by their fourth consecutive loss on Friday. They came up empty-handed against Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz in the first three innings, finally getting on the board with Justin Bour’s home run in the fourth inning and returning for another pair of homers by J.T. Realmuto in the seventh and Derek Dietrich in the ninth. They were no match for Tyler Flowers, however, whose second-inning blast and two-RBI single in the seventh locked down the Braves’ 12th win of the year.

Rays 5, Red Sox 4: The Red Sox’ infield situation is… something of a mess right now, to put it kindly. Not only do they hold a league-leading 31 errors in 2017, but 13 of those errors have been committed at third base. Utility infielder Josh Rutledge added to that total on Friday, filling in at third base and botching several key plays during the Sox’ 5-4 loss to the Rays. He bounced a throw to first base in the fourth inning, allowing Evan Longoria to reach first and giving the Rays room to score on Tim Beckham‘s RBI single for a two-run lead.

The Rays committed their fair share of errors, too, allowing Jackie Bradley Jr. to reach first base in the seventh inning when Brad Miller inadvertently kicked the ball into center field, then was dinged with a second throwing error that allowed Bradley to reach second base and bring Sandy Leon home to score. Even with that freebie, however, the Sox couldn’t find a way to squeeze one more run out of Tampa Bay’s bullpen, who delivered six consecutive outs to preserve their lead and win the game.

Twins 1, Indians 0: Forget what you saw last Sunday: Ervin Santana is still one of the best arms in the American League. The former ERA leader issued two hits and a season-high five walks over seven scoreless frames, punctuated with four strikeouts against an Indians’ offense that just couldn’t get the ball rolling. Miguel Sano powered Santana’s efforts with a leadoff home run in the first inning, the only blemish on Josh Tomlin‘s pitching line as he went eight innings with six hits and seven strikeouts.

Rangers 5, Athletics 2: Don’t look now, but the Rangers are on a roll. They’ve won their last four games in a row, capping both Thursday and Friday’s contests with three-run, walk-off home runs by Mike Napoli and Joey Gallo. The A’s, meanwhile, struggled to gain a foothold against Texas starter Andrew Cashner, squeaking by on a solo home run through the first six innings. Neither outcome matters too much in light of the recent division standings, however, which have both teams tied for last place behind the second-place Mariners and Angels.

Padres 6, White Sox 3: The Padres and White Sox slugged their way through a mini-Home Run Derby on Friday night, putting up a cumulative five home runs en route to a 6-3 finish in the Padres’ favor. Matt Szczur went yard on the first pitch of the game, skying it 431 feet to left field. His efforts were succeeded by a two-homer game from Leurys Garcia and solo shots from Austin Hedges and Wil Myers, the latter of whom cemented the Padres’ win with a ninth-inning blast off of Chicago’s Chris Beck.

Brewers 7, Mets 4: An extra five days of rest did not do wonders for Matt Harvey, who returned to the mound on Friday after serving a three-day suspension last week. He delivered six strikeouts in six innings, which was overshadowed by the five runs, five walks and three home runs they accompanied. The Mets put up a good fight in the ninth inning, scoring two on a groundout and wild pitch from Milwaukee right-hander Jacob Barnes, but couldn’t close the three-run gap needed to tie the game.

Cubs 3, Cardinals 2: The Cardinals’ six-game win streak game to a disappointing end on Friday, almost entirely due to a two-homer performance from Cubs’ catcher Willson Contreras. Contreras slugged his third and fourth home runs of the year, getting the Cubs out to an early lead while Eddie Butler quieted the Cards’ bats with five strikeouts over six shutout innings. Unfortunately for the Cubs, the win did nothing to improve their standing in the NL Central, where they rank fourth behind the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers.

Royals 3, Orioles 2: Good pitching characterized both sides of the Royals’ 3-2 nail-biter, which hinged on standout performances from Danny Duffy and Dylan Bundy. Orioles’ backstop Caleb Joseph picked up three extra-base hits, doubling home a run in the second inning and scoring on a wild pitch in the seventh to tie the game. The pitchers’ duel was laid to rest in the eighth inning, however, when Eric Hosmer’s double secured the third and final run of the night off of Vidal Nuno.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 2: Clayton Kershaw has yet to pitch a scoreless outing in 2017, but don’t let that fool you — the lefty was every bit as dominant as you’d expect on Friday. He struck out four of 26 batters and held the Rockies to just two runs in seven innings, clinching his sixth win of the year on a six-run effort from the Dodgers’ lineup. It doesn’t hurt that his run support average is a healthy 6.26 runs per game, either.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 4: The Diamondbacks jumped out to an impressive lead after putting up a seven-spot in the third inning. Neither Tyler Glasnow nor Josh Lindblom could corral Arizona’s offense, and by the time Johnny Barbato got the ball in the seventh, it was too late to stage a comeback. Barbato closed out the game with two scoreless frames, but his strong performance was marred by an errant 93 m.p.h. fastball that hit Diamondbacks’ catcher Chris Iannetta in the nose and mouth and forced his early exit in the seventh inning.

Angels 7, Tigers 0: On any given night, we all expect Mike Trout to do what Mike Trout does best — crush home runs, make standout defensive plays and generally perform a cut above the rest. He didn’t disappoint in the Angels’ 7-0 shutout on Friday, returning from a five-game absence to smash a 430-foot home run to center field for his longest home run of the year:

Giants 3, Reds 2 (17 innings): Umpiring a professional baseball game requires incredible mental and physical resilience, particularly on days like Friday, when home plate ump Tony Randazzo took three pitches to the face, shoulder and chest during a 17-inning marathon. Randazzo was struck in the fifth inning after Billy Hamilton abandoned a bunt attempt, allowing the ball a clear path to Randazzo’s face mask and throat guard.

The umpire went down immediately and received care from Giants’ trainer Dave Groeschener, but remained in the game to call another nine innings before turning his duties over to second base umpire Clint Fagan. The game continued with just three umpires until the 17th inning, when Buster Posey recorded his longest blast in the Statcast era, cresting 431 feet with a walk-off homer to bring the Giants their much-needed win.

Anthony Alford to miss 4-6 weeks following wrist surgery

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Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.

Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.

Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.

Stephen Strasburg hit a new career high today

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Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.

It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.

While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.

The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”