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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The Dodgers had the NL West title in the bag on Friday, holding the Giants to two runs and taking the lead on Cody Bellinger‘s three-run blast in the third (an NL-best 39th home run, to boot). Feels like the Giants should get some extra credit for a ninth-inning Pablo Sandoval home run off of Kenley Jansen, but alas: they struck out thrice following the homer, leaving the Dodgers with the division title and their 98th win of the year. Next up: the Cubs, whose magic number sits at five heading into Saturday’s contest against the Brewers.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: The Cardinals kept things interesting in the NL wild card race, edging the Pirates to take the lead behind the Diamondbacks and Rockies as the first runner-up. Down 3-2 in the ninth, Jedd Gyorko pinch-hit the tying run with a one-out RBI single, while Dexter Fowler put the Cards ahead after Jordy Mercer failed to execute the double play.

Rays 8, Orioles 3: On the heels of Wilson Ramos‘ monster grand slam, Evan Longoria catapulted the Rays past a new milestone with his 19th home run of the season, a 353-foot solo shot that stretched just beyond the warning track in the third:

It marked the Rays’ 216th home run of 2017, tying their 2016 total for the most in club history. That’s a small consolation in light of their ever-dimming playoff chances, however, which haven’t improved at all since last Sunday. Friday’s win kept them five games back of a wild card spot, but the Twins appear to be in no rush to relinquish their playoff berth just yet.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1: The Yankees postponed their postseason clinch on Friday, unable to topple the Blue Jays with a single 469-foot swing from slugger Aaron Judge. The Blue Jays responded with an eight-run spread and some heads-up defense, including this tried-and-true trick:

Red Sox 5, Reds 4: David Price may not have entered the 2017 season with a bullpen role in mind, but he’s been nothing but dominant in two appearances so far. He pitched through another scoreless inning on Friday, fanning four batters in 2 2/3 innings as he helped preserve the Red Sox’ narrow lead over the Reds. Even better: he contributed a leadoff single in the seventh, his first hit of any kind since 2010.

“I liked hitting way more [than pitching],” Price told reporters after the game. “That was cool. I was due.”

Twins 7, Tigers 3: The Twins have a death grip on the second AL wild card spot. They chased Daniel Norris with a four-run lead on Friday for their second straight win, banking on home runs from Brian Dozier and Max Kepler and a three-hit performance from Byron Buxton. It all proved too overwhelming for the Tigers, who dropped their fifth straight contest and now carry a 2-8 record over their last 10 games.

Mets 7, Nationals 6: Dusty Baker enjoys home runs, but he likes runs more. The Nationals produced both in mass quantities this season, exiting Friday’s loss with a franchise-best 780 runs scored and 203 home runs. Adam Lind was the only National to go deep against the Mets in their series opener, riding a Robert Gsellman fastball for his 13th dinger of the season and helping set a new single-season club record in the process.

It wasn’t enough to overcome the Mets, however, who surged to a one-run lead after putting up a five-spot in the fifth.

Braves 7, Phillies 2: Sean Newcomb hasn’t had the smoothest transition to the majors, but he intends to finish his rookie season strong. He chipped away at the Phillies for 5 1/3 innings, recording two runs and five strikeouts as the offense built a five-run lead behind him. The Braves had a far easier time against fellow rookie starter Ben Lively, who gave up six consecutive hits to start the game:

White Sox 7, Royals 6: The playoffs are looking further and further away for the Royals, who dropped their series opener following Jason Hammel‘s worst start of the season. Hammel scattered seven runs over 3 1/3 innings — including a five-run spread in the fourth — and the Royals’ offense couldn’t quite recover, producing just five baserunners in six scoreless innings. On the plus side, at least Ned Yost is coming back next year?

Cubs 5, Brewers 4 (10 innings): The Cubs are still the clear favorites to clinch the NL Central, but they’ll need to stay on top of the Cardinals and Brewers this week to take their second consecutive division title. On Friday, they did just that, squeezing past the Brewers with a good old-fashioned go-ahead RBI walk.

The win might have been too close for comfort for Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon, who told reporters he doesn’t feel like he’s in control of the division just yet. “Let’s go play [Saturday’s] game,” Maddon said. “I’m interested in one-game winning streaks. We’ve had two of them. I want another one-game winning streak [Saturday]. That’s how I look at it.”

Astros 3, Angels 0: For the first six innings, this had all the makings of a bonafide pitcher’s duel. Justin Verlander and Garrett Richards were in lockstep, dealing one hit and six strikeouts apiece as their respective offenses failed to manufacture any run support at the plate. That changed in the seventh, when Yuli Gurriel unloaded a three-run homer off of Yusmeiro Petit for the first and only runs scored of the night. While the Astros already have a guaranteed reservation in the playoffs, the Angels are still hoping to top the Twins and currently trail by 3.5 games.

Athletics 4, Rangers 1: Speaking of wild card contenders, the Rangers are also stalling at 3.5 games back of postseason contention. They couldn’t find a foothold against Kendall Graveman, who held them to a Shin-Soo Choo solo shot through seven solid innings. The A’s, meanwhile, are playing some of their best ball of the year after getting eliminated, and added Friday’s win to their second five-game tear this month.

Diamondbacks 13, Marlins 11: Zack Greinke doesn’t implode often, but when he does, Chris Iannetta is there to bail him out. At least, that’s how the narrative unfolded on Friday night, when Greinke was tagged for a season-high eight runs in four innings and Iannetta helped power the Dbacks’ comeback with three hits (including a three-run homer and a grand slam) and eight RBI. Fernando Rodney fended off a late-game rally from the Marlins in the ninth, closing the door with a game-ending force out to collect his 300th career save. The club’s magic number is two.

Mariners 3, Indians 1: It’s been exactly a week since the Indians lost their historic 22-win streak to the Royals, and on Friday, they commemorated that anniversary with another fumble. This time, the loss only snapped Cleveland’s modest five-win streak, but the Mariners still found a way to inject some ninth-inning drama:

Rockies 4, Padres 1: The Rockies aren’t taking any chances when it comes to the NL wild card race — and for good reason, as they’re clinging to a 1.5-game lead with eight still left to play. Jon Gray padded their wild card advantage with his third quality start of the month, going six strong as Nolan Arenado, Ian Desmond and Trevor Story backed his efforts with a handful of homers.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Below are the highlights. A bit later than usual for a Monday morning because I spent last night at a Dead Milkmen concert. Not even lying. They were my favorite band for a time in the mid-to-late 1980s. As for them in 2017? Not bad for a bunch of 50-somethings playing music that I liked as a ten-something. In fact, it was pretty amazing.

Oh, and because I’m an old man, I never know what to wear to concerts anymore. This one was easy, though. The Dead Milkmen are from Philly, so I wore my Jeff Francoeur Phillies shirsey (you remember that I bought that, right?). I’d like to think they appreciated the gesture and that, maybe, they liked me because I wasn’t like all of the other people there, in the trailer park.

Anyway:

Astros 7, Mariners 1: And with that the Astros clinch the AL West. Justin Verlander continues to do what he was picked up to do, striking out ten in seven innings and allowing only one run on three hits. Verlander is doing his best Doyle Alexander impression. Those of us of a certain age certainly remember that 1987 Tigers season. If not for Alexander’s fantastic late run after his midseason pickup from the Braves, then for the fact that Tigers outfielder Jim Walewander made the news that summer when it was revealed that he was the most famous Dead Milkmen fan around. It was even listed on his baseball card. During that season, he met the band at Tiger Stadium after they played a gig nearby. That same day he also hit his only major league home run. Rodney, Joe, Dave (RIP) and Dean did not see him do it, though. They had to get in their van before the game started and head on to the next town. By the way: the band still tours in a white van. Saw it parked outside the club last night. They set up their own instruments and stuff too. They never made it so big that they got a bus or roadies or anything. In fact, I think they all have day jobs now. It must be weird to have something of a cult national following but to never have really gotten past the “we tour in a van that we drive ourselves and have day jobs” mode. But respect to them for still doin’ it.

Oh, congratulations, Astros.

Athletics 6, Phillies 3: Down 3-2 in the sixth, the A’s Joey Wendle hit a go-ahead grand slam for Oakland. From the AP writeup:

Growing up near Philadelphia, Joey Wendle dreamed of coming to the plate and hitting a game-winning home run for the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.

My first thought was “how could any adult have dreamt about hitting a homer in CPB when they were a kid? The place is new!” Then I looked it up and realized that that park opened in 2004 and that Wendle was just a tad older than my daughter is now when it made its debut. My god, where has time gone? *puts on “Bucky Fellini” and pretends it’s still July 1987, when I turned 14 years old*

Orioles 6, Yankees 4Ubaldo Jimenez struck out 10 in just five innings and Tim Beckham hit a three-run homer. Also: Buck Showalter had Zach Britton walk Aaron Judge with two outs in the ninth, bringing the potential winning run to the plate in the form of Gary Sanchez. It worked — Sanchez struck out — and to be honest, given how much Judge has abused the Orioles this year, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing. You may remember that Showalter was also the guy who once ordered an intentional walk to Barry Bonds with the bases loaded back when Showalter managed the Diamondbacks. A man has to have a code.

Indians 3, Royals 2: The Indians technically clinched the AL Central on Saturday, but they celebrated it after yesterday’s win. And it wasn’t one of those bittersweet, we-backed-in sort of things, as they just kept on rolling with the 3-2 win. Corey Kluber — who is probably going to win the Cy Young given his amazing second half — tossed seven shutout innings to notch his 17th win and push his ERA down to 2.34. Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer. Friday night’s loss ended that winning streak but nothing seems to be stopping them otherwise.

Tigers 12, White Sox 0: Matt Boyd lost his no-hitter with two out in the ninth but Tim Anderson‘s double to break things up was all he allowed. Nine innings, the one hit, one walk and five strikeouts for Boyd. On offense the Tigers rolled. Jeimer Candelario hit a three-run shot and drove in four. Nicholas Castellanos hit a two-run homer and doubled in two more. Miguel Cabrera sat with aches and pains, but what else is new?

Reds 5, Pirates 2Eugenio Suarez and Scooter Gennett each hit two-run homers and Tucker Barnhart triples home a run as Cincinnati scored all five of their runs in the sixth inning. They were backed by Robert Stephenson‘s six innings of one-hit, shutout ball.

Rays 3, Red Sox 2: Jake Odorizzi allowed only one hit in six innings, though it was a two-run homer to Jackie Bradley Jr. That tied things up at two, but Jesus Sucre‘s solo shot in the bottom half of the sixth put the Rays ahead. David Price returned and tossed two hitless innings in relief against his old team. He’ll be an intriguing piece of the postseason puzzle for Boston. He could be anything from the most expensive lefty specialist of all time to their version of Andrew Miller.

Mets 5, Braves 1: Robert Gsellman didn’t allow an earned run over seven innings and Asdrubal Cabrera had a two-run, pinch hit homer as the Mets cruised. The Braves are officially eliminated from playoff contention. So sad. Really thought they had a run in them. Oh well, they could still finish at .500 if they win every single one of their last 14 games. Let’s do it, Bravos!

 

Twins 13, Blue Jays 7: Toronto took a 5-0 lead behind two Josh Donaldson homers in the first inning and a half but the Twins came roaring back with seven in the second and then six more in the fifth before the Jays would cross home plate again. Eddie Rosario hit two homers and Joe Mauer hit a grand slam. Byron Buxton homered and doubled in a run. The Twins remain two games up on the Angels for the second Wild Card.

Brewers 10, Marlins 3Travis ShawJesus Aguilar and Manny Pina each had two hits and Shaw and Domingo Santana each drove in three as the Brewers take two of three from the displaced Miami Marlins. The Brewers stayed four games behind the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and got within two and a half games of Colorado for the final NL wild-card spot. Miami has lost 17 of 20 games.

Cubs 4, Cardinals 3: The Cubs sweep the Cardinals in their three-game series and take their sixth game in a row to push St. Louis six back in the Central with only thirteen games left to play. So much for that frisky little run from the Cardinals. Jason Heyward hit a tiebreaking RBI in the seventh. Ben Zobrist drove in two and Kyle Schwarber hit a homer.

Rangers 4, Angels 2: Joey Gallo hit a solo homer that went nearly 500 feet. Mercy. Really, NO ONE hits a ball to this part of Angels Stadium:

Adrian Beltre hit a two-run double and had two hits on the day. I would’ve bet the ranch that he wouldn’t play again this season too.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 2: If I didn’t think Beltre would play again, I didn’t think Pablo Sandoval was even alive. But here he is, hitting a homer and driving in three. J.D. Martinez hit yet another homer — his 40th overall and his 24th in 51 games as a Diamondbacks. The Dbacks’ magic number to clinch a playoff spot is six.

Nationals 7, Dodgers 1: Stephen Strasburg‘s scoreless innings streak ends at 35 but he allowed only the one run in six innings en route to a win. Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers in this possible NLCS matchup. Weirdest thing about the Dodgers and Nats meeting in the NLCS: one of them would have to actually win it and advance to the World Series. Not sure that’s in either team’s DNA, but I guess we’ll see. Indeed, if that series happens, it will be such an interesting matchup you’ll want to drive your car up here from the Bahamas to check it out.

Now, the important thing here is, you ask me what kind of car it is.

Fans unfurl “Racism is as American as baseball” banner on the Green Monster

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During Wednesday night’s game between the Athletics and Red Sox, fans sitting behind Fenway Park’s “Green Monster” in left field unfurled a black banner with white text that read, “Racism is as American as Baseball.” Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe snapped a photo:

The fans, as Abraham noted, were quickly ejected and their banner confiscated.

Fenway Park is no stranger to issues concerning racism, as Orioles outfielder Adam Jones had racial slurs directed at him and had peanuts thrown at him earlier this year. Additionally, last month, Red Sox owner John Henry said he was “haunted” by the racist past of former owner Tom Yawkey. Henry suggested renaming Yawkey Way, the two-block street that runs from Brookline Avenue to Boylston Street.

A host of non-white players past and present have said they have experienced racism in Boston in particular. CC Sabathia said, “I’ve never been called the N-word” anywhere else but in Boston. He added, “We know. There’s 62 of us. We all know. When you go to Boston, expect it.”

Current Red Sox pitcher David Price said he has had racial slurs directed his way while in Boston. When center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. struggled in 2014, he said Boston fans directed racist taunts in his direction. All-time great slugger Barry Bonds said he would never play for the Red Sox because Boston is “too racist for me.”

The statement on the banner is a bit ambiguous, as it can be read as both pro-racism and anti-racism. However, given the above context and since racists rarely operate while openly admitting that they are racist, it is probabilistically reasonable to interpret it as an anti-racist statement. We’ll probably learn more about the intent as the ejected fans are likely to garner some press following the stunt.