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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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From Rio Ruiz’s first major league home run to Mike Clevinger’s first seven-inning shutout, here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Braves 5, Nationals 2: The Braves hammered Max Scherzer and Matt Albers for three home runs on Saturday, putting the cherry on a week that has already seen five wins in seven games. No home run was sweeter than that of rookie third baseman Rio Ruiz, whose 372-foot bomb in the second inning was also his second extra base hit in the major leagues.

Pirates 6, Phillies 3: Whatever glimmer of hope Jeremy Hellickson gave the Phillies on Friday was gone by Saturday afternoon. Vince Velasquez hurled his fourth loss of the year, exiting after 5 1/3 innings with five runs, two walks and six strikeouts. The Pirates, meanwhile, picked up their fourth win of the week on a four-run inning from Francisco Cervelli and Adam Frazier, though it wasn’t quite enough to dig them out of last place in the NL Central.

Athletics 8, Red Sox 3: All eyes were on the A’s on Saturday. Mark Canha, Khris Davis and Chad Pinder dominated in the fifth inning, muscling three home runs to put the A’s up 7-3 after five. Jed Lowrie returned in the seventh to unleash the final home run of the day, a 409-foot blast that landed in the right field bleachers and cemented Oakland’s third consecutive win.

Rays 9, Yankees 5: A feud between Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi and home plate umpire Scott Barry escalated during the club’s 9-5 loss on Saturday. Girardi and pitching coach Larry Rothschild told Barry that he missed a few pitches during Logan Morrison‘s at-bat against Giovanny Gallegos, which eventually led to a two-RBI single in the fifth inning. Both Rothschild and Girardi (who also claimed Barry had been giving his players odd looks) were ejected, but not before the skipper expressed the full extent of his irritation:

Reds 12, Rockies 8: No pitcher was safe at Great American Ball Park this weekend. Both Tim Adleman and Antonio Senzatela had vanished by the sixth inning, leaving 12 runs in their wake — including the Rockies’ six-run spread in the fifth. The Reds returned in the sixth with a six-run spread of their own, grabbing the go-ahead run on a three-run shot by Scott Schebler, his 11th of the season:

Indians 3, Astros 0: Mike Clevinger hasn’t looked this good since… well, maybe ever. The Indians’ right-hander hurled seven pristine innings against the league-leading Astros on Saturday, holding them to two hits and two walks and setting down a career-high eight strikeouts. Backed by the dynamic duo of Andrew Miller and Cody Allen, each of whom also set down scoreless innings, the shutout was in the books in just two and a half hours.

Mets 7, Angels 5: Jose Reyes isn’t exactly having a banner year, but he managed to worm his way into the exclusive 2,000-hit club on Saturday. He lined a base hit off of the Angels’ Alex Meyer in the first inning, joining Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, Robinson Cano and Matt Holliday as the eighth active major leaguer with at least 2,000 hits under his belt.

Giants 3, Cardinals 1 (13 innings): The Giants currently rank second-worst among major league teams with just 154 runs scored in 44 games, good for an average of 4.53 runs per game. Their focus on small ball was evident during Saturday’s extra-inning win, driven by eight shutout innings from Jeff Samardzija and a shutdown performance by the ‘pen.

Rookie sensation Christian Arroyo finally broke through in the 13th inning, smashing a one-out, two-run double to the left field wall to get the Giants on the board. Nick Hundley followed with a sac fly in the next at-bat and Mark Melancon did the rest, allowing the Cardinals a single run before shutting the rest of the lineup down for his eighth save of the season.

Tigers 9, Rangers 3: The Rangers’ 10-game win streak came to an abrupt and dramatic end on Saturday. Justin Verlander led the charge against Texas, silencing the Rangers’ bats through three frames before allowing a two-run double in the fourth. Jonathan Lucroy returned for a solo shot in the sixth inning, but that’s about as much damage as the Rangers could muster. The Tigers, on the other hand, lost no time building their lead, going back-to-back-to-back with three long blasts in the first inning:

The win brought the Tigers within 1.5 games of the division lead, though they might find it difficult to unseat the 21-17 Twins (a concept that, for some reason, doesn’t seem entirely ludicrous in 2017).

Diamondbacks 9, Padres 1: The Diamondbacks continued building their case for first place in the NL West on Saturday, stymieing the Padres’ efforts with a nine-run effort and chasing right-hander Luis Perdomo out of the fourth inning. They only needed one inning’s worth of runs to secure their 26th win of the year, however, putting up a five-run lead on Paul Goldschmidt‘s two-run single, Jake Lamb‘s RBI double and a center field blast for Chris Herrmann:

White Sox 16, Mariners 1: It was a big day for the White Sox, who netted Cuban prospect Luis Robert and celebrated with a season-high 16 runs against the Mariners. Seattle right-hander Yovani Gallardo was tagged for 10 runs in his fourth loss of the season, spreading nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts over 3 2/3 innings. The bullpen fared little better against Chicago’s explosive offense, giving up another five runs in the seventh inning with Todd Frazier‘s two-RBI single and a pair of home runs from Matt Davidson and Willy Garcia:

Garcia’s blast was his first in the majors, a double-deck shot that put the White Sox up 15-1 through seven innings. The win marked the Sox’ highest-scoring game since April 2014, and their highest-scoring game against the Mariners since 2000.

Royals, Twins (postponed): The Twins will host a doubleheader on Sunday afternoon, led by Minnesota lefty Adalberto Mejia and Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy for Game 1 and followed by Phil Hughes and an unnamed starter in Game 2.

Brewers, Cubs (postponed): Just because there wasn’t baseball at Wrigley Field on Saturday doesn’t mean there wasn’t fun to be had:

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

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Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.