David Freese

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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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There were quite a few oddities during Friday’s games, from the Joey Gallo‘s record-setting home run to an inning that granted the Rockies both a grand slam and an inside-the-park homer. You can find the full scores here and the rest of the highlights below:

Phillies 4, Braves 3: The Braves took their fourth consecutive loss on Friday, and according to MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki and Mark Bowman, their first loss to the Phillies since July 30, 2016. Bartolo Colon pitched through seven innings, his longest outing of the season, allowing 11 hits, four runs and striking out four of 32 batters. The Braves made a concerted effort in the ninth after Adonis Garcia went yard (in the pouring rain, no less) and Nick Markakis and Brandon Phillips put runners on first and second with back-to-back singles, but right-hander Hector Neris caught Tyler Flowers swinging on an eight-pitch at-bat to preserve the Phillies’ lead and take the win.

Pirates 6, Yankees 3: The Pirates got off to a quick start on Friday, amassing four runs in the first two innings after a pair of home runs from Jordy Mercer and Josh Bell and an RBI single from David Freese. The same could not be said for the Yankees:

Orioles 2, Red Sox 0: It’s worth mentioning, if only in passing, the quality of Dylan Bundy‘s start. The right-hander delivered seven shutout innings in his fourth start of the season, issuing six hits, a walk and three strikeouts in the Orioles’ 2-0 win. The outing fed into Bundy’s 1.37 ERA and the Orioles’ continued dominance in the AL East, but was ultimately overshadowed by a disputed takeout slide by Manny Machado in the eighth inning.

Cubs 6, Reds 5 (11 innings): The defending World Series champs reclaimed their position atop the NL Central division after orchestrating three dramatic comebacks to win their last three games this week. Those wins snapped a four-game losing streak, during which the Cubs had blown three leads against the Pirates and Brewers.

Whether or not this come-from-behind strategy will hold much longer is yet to be determined, but the Cubs don’t seem too concerned. “[Winning] is always fun; when you come back, it just makes it a little bit better,” Chicago left-hander Jon Lester told reporters following the game. “It doesn’t matter how it looks, we got it done.” Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon shared the sentiment: “It’s so entertaining, isn’t it? We like the tough games, the big series. We like that stuff.”

Astros 6, Rays 3: For once, the preseason predictions got something right: the Astros are running away with the AL West this season. They capped their eighth win in nine games, returning from a two-run deficit with two RBI base hits from Brian McCann and Yuli Gurriel, two productive, game-winning outs from George Springer and Josh Reddick and a run-scoring wild pitch in the ninth inning.

Nationals 4, Mets 3 (11 innings): After cycling through ten pitchers and four home runs, it seemed only fitting that the 11-inning marathon would end on a bases-loaded walk:

Rangers 6, Royals 2: On a day full of a variety of record-breaking and -setting homers, Joey Gallo raised the bar for any aspiring home run hitter in 2017. He went deep against Royals’ right-hander Nathan Karns in the second inning, nearly driving the ball into a concourse popcorn stand:

Per Statcast, the ball left Gallo’s bat at a speed of 116.1 m.p.h. and traveled an estimated 462 feet. It’s both the longest and hardest-hit home run so far this year, though it still falls a little shy of the records set by Giancarlo Stanton (504 feet) and Carlos Gonzalez (117.4 m.p.h.) in 2016.

Indians 3, White Sox 0: After putting up a 6.38 ERA during his first three starts of the season, Corey Kluber finally regained some equilibrium on the mound. He leveled the White Sox with his first complete game shutout since June 21, 2016, firing nine scoreless innings with three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. The reemergence of his cutter may have had something to do with his successful outing, as MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian pointed out:

Twins 6, Tigers 3: The Tigers have undoubtedly seen better days. Justin Verlander collapsed against the Twins, handing over four run, six walks and four strikeouts in his second loss of the season. Victor Martinez and Justin Upton put the Tigers on the board in the third inning with an RBI single and double, respectively, but a six-run rally by the Twins unraveled the Tigers’ lead.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 3: With Madison Bumgarner on the disabled list, another member of the #PitchersWhoRake club was called upon to deliver the goods on Friday night. Adam Wainwright blew past the Brewers with five innings of two-run, nine-strikeout pitching, then turned around and blasted his first home run of the season, a two-run, double-deck shot that put the Cardinals up 2-1 in the third inning.

Wainwright later returned for another two-run single in the fourth and now officially leads all pitchers with three hits and four RBI in 2017.

Rockies 6, Giants 5: According to MLB.com’s Owen Perkins, the Rockies’ grand slam/inside-the-parker combo was only the second such combination of events since September 19, 2011, when the Red Sox’ Conor Jackson and Jacoby Ellsbury tag-teamed for the two unusual home runs against the visiting Orioles. The grand slam was a career first for both Trevor Story and Giants’ right-hander Johnny Cueto, who enjoyed an 8-2 record against the Rockies prior to his meltdown on Friday afternoon.

Diamondbacks 13, Dodgers 5: The Diamondbacks’ offense took approximately eight innings to heat up during Friday’s series opener, but no one was complaining when they constructed a nine-run comeback in the bottom of the eighth inning. Against an ailing Dodgers’ bullpen, the D-backs pulled five walks, six hits, and best of all, a tie-breaking balk from right-handed reliever Sergio Romo.

Athletics 3, Mariners 1: The Mariners are 1-8 on the road so far this season, a record that was underscored by the Athletics’ dominant showing on Friday. Sean Manaea turned in six solid innings, allowing one run and striking out six of 24 batters, while Ryan Dull, Sean Doolittle and Santiago Casilla combined for three scoreless frames to clinch the A’s ninth win and push them just over .500.

Blue Jays 8, Angels 7 (13 innings): There wasn’t a better moment for Jose Bautista‘s first home run of the season:

Padres 5, Marlins 3: Trevor Cahill enjoyed a triumphant return to his hometown during Friday’s series opener, delivering seven innings of one-run, six-strikeout ball for his first win of the season. He kept the game scoreless after allowing a solo home run to Marcell Ozuna in the second inning, shutting down 15 consecutive batters before allowing the Marlins a final base hit in the seventh. The Marlins did their best to contribute to Cahill’s win, issuing four hits, four runs and a run-scoring double play in the seventh to boost the Padres to a four-run lead.

Must-Click Link: David Freese and his battle with depression and anxiety

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David Freese became a St. Louis legend in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. That night, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals one strike from elimination and the Rangers one strike from glory, Freese hit a two-run triple that eluded Nelson Cruz and sent the game into extra innings. Then, in the 11th, he hit a walkoff homer, giving the Cardinals a Game 7 which they’d go on to win and become World Series champions. It’s virtually impossible to script baseball heroics greater than that.

But despite it all, Freese was not in a good place. He had suffered from depression and anxiety his entire life and, to compensate for that, he abused alcohol. All of it was exacerbated by the expectations of being the hometown hero and feeling he had to be a certain sort of person to the people in St. Louis who either knew him all of his life or were introduced to him as a conquering hero. His life spun out of control.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has an interview with Freese about all of that. He talks about his struggles with depression, anxiety and the bottle and how (a) getting traded away from the Cardinals; and (b) meeting and marrying a woman who was not a baseball fan who helped him bring balance to his life helped lift him out of the fog and into a healthier, more balanced life.

Some must-read material for Cardinals fans, Pirates fans, Freese fans and anyone who has struggled with the issues he has.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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The White Sox debut a historic outfield combo, the Braves have a new ballpark and Miguel Cabrera has beef with Terry Francona. Catch Friday’s scores here, and the rest of the highlights below:

Pirates 4, Cubs 2: The Pirates caught a break on Friday, snapping a four-game losing streak with a decisive 4-2 victory over the Cubs. Right-hander Gerrit Cole looked like he had finally found his footing, and limited the Cubs to just six hits and two runs over six frames. The Bucs’ offense came alive in the sixth inning with David Freese‘s RBI single and a game-winning two-run double from Francisco Cervelli.

Nationals 3, Phillies 2 (10 innings): Extra inning games are so often remembered for their dénouements, their walk-off home runs and last-minute sacrifice flies. Well before Daniel Murphy‘s dramatic game-winning double, however, there were nine innings of solid pitching, from Aaron Nola‘s five innings of one-run ball to the three scoreless innings from Washington’s bullpen that stifled the Phillies’ best attempts at a comeback.

Yankees 4, Cardinals 3: It’s been an uncharacteristically painful start to the year for 28-year-old Masahiro Tanaka, who came into Friday’s game with an overblown 11.74 ERA after allowing 14 hits, 10 runs runs and six walks and striking out just eight batters through his first 7 2/3 innings. A first-inning two-run homer by Matt Carpenter did little to allay concerns about Tanaka’s performance, but the right-hander quickly settled into a groove, allowing just three runs, two walks and striking out five batters before calling it a night.

Orioles 6, Blue Jays 4: It wasn’t a good night for the Blue Jays, who were handed their ninth loss of the season after the Orioles went yard four times. It was an even worse night for home plate umpire Dale Scott, who was carted off the field in a stretcher after taking a foul tip off the mask in the eighth inning. Scott will not facilitate any remaining games this weekend after sustaining a concussion, though he was released from the hospital early Saturday morning after a CT scan failed to reveal any significant damage. The Blue Jays, on the other hand, will need to make a concerted effort to revive their offense after losing their eighth game by a difference of two or fewer runs.

Tigers 7, Indians 6: Both benches received a warning on Friday after Miguel Cabrera exchanged heated words with Indians’ manager Terry Francona in the first inning. According to Cabrera, Francona had some unwelcome advice for the slugger following a brushback pitch from Trevor Bauer, which Cabrera felt was both disrespectful and unwarranted. No ejections were issued, though, and Cabrera silenced most of Francona’s criticism after unleashing a three-run home run off of Bauer in the fifth inning.

Brewers 10, Reds 4: Every streak has to come to an end at some point, and for the Reds’ bullpen, April 14 was that point. Their league-leading 1.13 ERA ballooned to an eighth-best mark of 2.68 after two disastrous innings against the Brewers’ offense, during which Cincinnati relievers combined to give up seven hits and eight runs. Poor location and shaky command created a deficit much too large to overcome, and by the time the Reds managed to procure another run, the ninth inning had drawn to a close on a swinging strikeout from pinch-hitter Jesse Winkler.

Marlins 3, Mets 2: Between Noah Syndergaard‘s torn fingernail and J.T. Realmuto‘s walk-off double in the ninth, there was little for the Mets fan to enjoy on Friday. Little, that is, save for a laser bream fired from right field to catch Miguel Rojas at home plate:

Rays 10, Red Sox 5: Two career firsts were inked during the Rays-Red Sox series opener this weekend. Logan Morrison recorded his first grand slam, a moonshot into the right field bleachers:

Rick Porcello, on the other hand, recorded his first four-home run game, allowing the Rays to go yard four times between the second and fifth innings of their 10-5 win.

Braves 5, Padres 2: Ender Inciarte may have stolen the show during the Braves’ home opener at SunTrust Park, but partial credit for the win also goes to right-hander Julio Teheran, who labored through six innings of two-run ball and kicked in his own tie-breaking run with an RBI single in the fourth inning. Atlanta’s bullpen was instrumental in cementing the win, too, delivering three scoreless frames that had the Padres flummoxed through the end of their 5-2 loss.

White Sox 2, Twins 1: How did the White Sox’ three-Garcia outfield prevail against the Twins, you might wonder? Avisail Garcia went 2-for-4 at the plate,Leury Garcia represented the Sox’ first run of the night on an RBI force out from Jose Abreu, and Willy Garcia doubled in his first major league at-bat, then was promptly thrown out when he tried for a triple.

Royals 7, Angels 1: It’s too early in the season to judge teams on their rankings and statistics, but in case you’re wondering, the Royals’ rotation currently holds the second-best ERA in the league, at 2.70, and the Angels hold the second-worst, with a 6.27 mark. Danny Duffy and JC Ramirez only confirmed those rankings on Friday, with Duffy’s turning in seven frames of three-hit ball and Ramirez taking his first loss of the year after giving up four hits and five runs through five innings.

Astros 7, Athletics 2: Jose Altuve is good at baseball. Sure, it’s early in the season and that .420 OBP probably isn’t here to stay, but he showed no signs of slowing down on Friday, reaching base for the 11th consecutive at-bat after a three-hit, two-walk performance against the Athletics. Enjoy it while it lasts.

Dodgers 7, Diamondbacks 1: Baseball is a wildly unpredictable game, but sometimes, it unfolds exactly as you expect it to. That was the case for the Dodgers on Friday, who watched Clayton Kershaw unfurl a four-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout gem against the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers’ lineup turned in a seven-run effort, Will Ferrell showed up, and everyone went home happy (except, presumably, the Diamondbacks).

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: The Mariners are fresh out of grasshoppers, and people are not happy about it. The demand for Safeco Field’s newest ballpark snack, bowls of toasted grasshoppers called chapulines, has brought in sales of over 18,000 of the salty insects. According to ESPN’s Darren Rovell, that’s more grasshoppers than the owners of the stand sell in an entire year at their Seattle-based restaurant, Poquitos, and they’ll need to place emergency orders of grasshoppers to meet customer demand through the rest of the weekend. Fortunately, for the 41,855 fans who showed up to the park on Friday night, their bowls of chili-lime chapulines were served with a side of dominant pitching from Felix Hernandez. The King delivered 7 1/3 innings of one-run ball, backed by a scoreless run from the bullpen and two RBI singles that decided the game in the Mariners’ favor, 2-1.

Giants 8, Rockies 2: Chris Marrero‘s first career home run highlighted an impressive run from the Giants, who put up eight runs behind a lights-out performance from Johnny Cueto. If only things had worked out so well for the Rockies. Tyler Anderson was pulled after issuing four runs in four innings, while manager Bud Black received his first ejection of the season when he disputed several balk calls with home plate umpire Mike Everett and first base umpire Bill Welke. The most emotional moment in the game did not concern the Rockies, however, but San Francisco shortstop Brandon Crawford, whose fourth inning home run followed the sudden and tragic loss of his sister-in-law on Wednesday.