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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:

Red Sox 9, Angels 4: David Ortiz commanded center stage at Fenway Park for the first time since 2016, becoming the 10th player in franchise history to have his number retired. The club hung his jersey number between those of Wade Boggs and Jackie Robinson and invited the slugger to toss out the ceremonial first pitch, which landed just a few feet wide of the plate:

Following the ceremony, the Red Sox capped their tribute with a decisive 9-4 win over the visiting Angels, powered by 6 1/3 innings of four-run ball from Rick Porcello and a two-RBI performance from Sandy Leon. They remain tied with the Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Nationals 6, Reds 5 (10 innings): Bryce Harper came through in the clutch on Friday, walking off on a two-out single in the 10th after Brian Goodwin tied the game with a home run in the seventh inning. It was the first lead the Nats held all night after the Reds’ offense erupted with a four-run inning to start the game, and, thankfully, the only one they needed to preserve a nine-game advantage in the NL East.

Yankees 2, Rangers 1 (10 innings): Everyone was a winner on Friday — well, except for the Rangers. The Yankees clung to first place with an airtight performance from Masahiro Tanaka, who matched Yu Darvish inning-for-inning and finished the night with just three hits, two walks and nine strikeouts. The offense did the rest, saving their first run for the ninth inning on Brett Gardner‘s one-out home run and securing the win with Ronald Torreyes‘ walk-off hit in the 10th.

If it feels like it’s been a while since the Yankees won a game via walk-off, that’s because they haven’t done it since April:

Marlins 2, Cubs 0: Giancarlo Stanton won’t get a chance to defend his Home Run Derby title for a few more weeks, but he got plenty of practice against the Cubs this weekend. He fueled the Marlins’ shutout with a 458-foot blast, putting the club on the board in the third inning and lending some support to Jose Urena‘s fifth win of the season.

Rays 15, Orioles 5: According to ESPN Stats and Info, the Orioles have allowed a cumulative 160 runs over their last 20 games. They took their sixth double-digit defeat in that span on Friday, handing the Rays a 10-run lead after Tampa Bay engineered three separate innings of 4+ runs. To say that Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter is concerned about his rotation is an understatement. Via MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli:

Got to pitch better. It is what it is. The help’s going to come from within,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We got to get back in step and create some rhythm for the offense, and even the defense gets out of step when the game’s being played so choppy and not very crisp. I really don’t like hanging it around one phase of it, but it starts if we could just string some good starts together. You can get into some type of rhythm.

Twins 5, Indians 0: The Twins entered a pivotal series this weekend as they attempt to unseat the Indians from first place, and Friday’s 5-0 shutout saw them pull within two games of the division lead. Adalberto Mejia strung five scoreless innings together, flummoxing the Indians at the plate with two hits, five walks and four strikeouts en route to his second win of the year. Not only was it the first win Mejia recorded since the Twins’ doubleheader last month, but it was the first time the southpaw managed to log more than 100 pitches in any major league start to date.

Braves 5, Brewers 4: Just call Dansby Swanson the next time you need a save. The Braves’ shortstop was instrumental in the team’s nail-biting finish on Friday evening, executing a run-saving fielder’s choice to catch Eric Thames off the third base bag in the ninth inning and helping right-hander Arodys Vizcaino secure his first save of the year with a diving stop to end the game.

Athletics 3, White Sox 0: The A’s finally brought their four-game skid to a halt, coasting to their second shutout of the season on five solid innings from right-hander Jharel Cotton. Cotton exited in the sixth inning with a blister on his pitching hand, but the bullpen kept things rolling against the White Sox with four scoreless frames. Khris Davis and Matt Joyce took care of things at the plate, muscling two home runs to give the A’s the edge they needed to lock down their 32nd win of the year.

Pirates 4, Cardinals 3: Jameson Taillon and Adam Wainwright were locked into a pitcher’s duel during the Cardinals’ home opener, holding their respective opponents to just two runs apiece over the first four innings. After Taillon’s exit in the sixth inning, the Cardinals jumped on reliever Daniel Hudson with a tie-breaking home run from Paul DeJong, but couldn’t quite close the door after the Pirates rebounded with a David Freese RBI single in the eighth inning. John Jaso smacked a game-winning home run in the ninth, securing the win and breaking the Bucs’ seven-game losing streak at Busch Stadium to boot.

Royals 5, Blue Jays 4: The Blue Jays appeared to be on the verge of a much-needed win on Friday, but some late-game struggles from the bullpen quickly unraveled eight innings of hard work. With two outs in the ninth inning, Alcides Escobar cut the Jays’ lead in half with an RBI single, followed by another from Alex Gordon and a game-winning two-run double off the bat of Whit Merrifield — the first walk-off of his major league career.

Phillies 6, Diamondbacks 1: Don’t look now, but the Phillies are… well, still in the last place. A 6-1 win is still worth celebrating, however, as they turned in an impressive four-run spread in the ninth inning to hand Mark Leiter his first win of the year. The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, now sit 2.5 games behind the division-leading Dodgers after squandering another quality start from left-hander Patrick Corbin.

Padres 1, Tigers 0: The Padres have won all but one home opener this season, and Friday’s 1-0 shutout was no exception. They continued their dominant streak with their fourth shutout of the year, backed by six innings of two-hit ball from right-hander Luis Perdomo. Despite Perdomo’s season-high five walks, not a single runner was able to advance past second base, gifting the Padres with a win after Austin Hedges doubled home the winning run in the second inning.

Mariners 13, Astros 3: Felix Hernandez may not look like the King the Mariners crowned back in 2010, but he certainly got the royal treatment upon his return from the disabled list on Friday night. The offense put up a sparkling 13 runs behind Hernandez’s six-inning, six-strikeout effort, topped by a trifecta of home runs from Mike Zunino, Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager. The double-digit finish extended the Mariners’ win streak to six games, giving Seattle hope that they’ll stick above .500 for more than a couple of days.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 1: The Dodgers steamrolled the Rockies to their eighth consecutive win on Friday, extending Alex Wood‘s record to 8-0 with 6 1/3 innings of a three-hitter. The Rockies struck early on an RBI double from Tom Murphy in the second, but found themselves unable to move a runner past first base in any subsequent inning. With the win, the Dodgers are now 14-1 in their last 15 contests, good for the best record in the majors, though they’ll need more than a couple of wins to completely shake the Rockies and Diamondbacks from contention.

Mets 11, Giants 4: The Giants took one step forward and two steps back this week, earning their 10th loss in 11 games after the Mets turned out an 11-run win on Friday. Ty Blach imploded after three innings with a career-high 11 hits and seven runs and failed to strike out a single batter. Club manager Bruce Bochy didn’t let his players off the hook, either, and told reporters that he wouldn’t excuse the team’s poor performance despite their early-morning arrival from Atlanta prior to the game. “Sure, we landed early in the morning, but it’s not the first time this has happened,” Bochy said. “You deal with it.”

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Cubs 9, Pirates 5: Of all the wacky twists and turns encapsulating the Cubs’ 33rd win of the season, none was stranger than this:

The reason for the impromptu uniform redesign? According to MLB.com’s Chris Landers and Carrie Muskat, pitchers cannot wear long white sleeves, as it obscures the baseball from the batter’s view. Luckily, the rudimentary tailoring skills of one Cubs’ trainer saved the day.

Cardinals 11, Orioles 2: The Cardinals snapped their three-game losing streak in spectacular fashion on Friday, distributing a season-best five home runs to rout the fourth-place Orioles. From Matt Carpenter’s blast in the sixth inning through Trey Mancini’s homer in the ninth, the only way either team scored was via the long ball.

Diamondbacks 5, Phillies 4: The Diamondbacks furthered their five-win streak on Friday, topping the Phillies to bring themselves within one game of the division lead. Gregor Blanco powered the D-backs’ comeback in the seventh inning, postmarking a 2-2 curveball from Aaron Nola to the right field stands, while Jake Lamb supplied the winning run on a sac fly.

White Sox 11, Blue Jays 4: The White Sox continued dominating their AL East rivals with an 11-run showing against the Blue Jays, backed by seven solid innings from Jose Quintana and a five-run display from Melky Cabrera.

Jose Quintana pitched into the seventh inning for the first time since May 19, issuing two runs on five hits and two walks and whiffing five of 25 batters. The offense carried the rest of the game, cushioning Quintana’s efforts with Jose Abreu’s three-RBI performance, Melky’s five-RBI performance and a handful of extra runs from Todd Frazier, Tim Anderson and Alex Hanson.

Tigers 13, Rays 4: After getting swept in a two-game series against the Diamondbacks earlier this week, the Tigers are turning things around. They cemented back-to-back wins against the Rays with a 13-run explosion on Friday, earning 10 of their 13 runs on two consecutive five-run innings against the Rays’ Erasmo Ramirez and Austin Pruitt. Highlighted in the win? A smattering of stellar defensive plays, including a slick throw from shortstop Jose Iglesias:

Nationals 7, Mets 2: Backing Max Scherzer‘s sterling start: Three home runs, one each from Matt Wieters, Michael Taylor and Anthony Rendon. Wieters put the Nats on the board in the third inning with a first-pitch shot off of Steven Matz:

Wieters’ leadoff solo shot was immediately followed by a long ball from Michael Taylor, his eighth of the season. Rendon rounded out the bunch, delivering a 379-foot tater to right field to cement a four-run lead in the sixth.

The Mets staged a late-game rally with solo homers from Jose Reyes and Jay Bruce in the eighth and ninth innings, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Nats, who put up another three runs in the ninth to take the game, 7-2.

Dodgers 3, Reds 1: Scooter Gennett didn’t get the opportunity to help the Reds during their 3-1 loss on Friday, taking a much-needed day off after his historic 10-RBI performance on Tuesday. The team still found a way to include him, however, hosting a pregame ceremony to honor Gennett for his four-homer performance and gifting him with a red scooter.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, continued their march toward first place with a dominant eight innings from Alex Wood, who held the Reds to just four hits and one run in his seventh win of the year.

Marlins 5, Braves 0: Perhaps The Freeze’s untimely loss was a harbinger of defeat for the Braves. It’s equally as likely that the Braves’ offense had something to do with it, collecting just four hits off of Dan Straily while the Marlins coasted to their 5-0 finish — their first team shutout since May 7.

Rangers 10, Mariners 4: Tyson Ross had been waiting for this moment since last April. The Rangers’ right-hander took the mound on Friday after battling chronic shoulder issues for the last year, and by all appearances seemed to have returned to the 3.26 ERA, 4.4 fWAR hurler the Padres saw in 2015. He limited the Mariners to just two runs in 5 2/3 innings, issuing three walks and striking out five batters in his first win of the season.

The Mariners, on the other hand, took a tough loss in what looked like James Paxton‘s worst start of the year. Paxton was forced out after 3 2/3 innings, giving up a season-high seven runs and striking out just four of 21 batters.

Brewers 6, Padres 5 (10 innings): Eric Thames is still enjoying an unprecedented power surge this season, with 19 home runs to his name and an equally impressive 1.012 OPS through his first 62 games. He smacked a walk-off home run during the 10th inning of the Brewers’ win, reaching a team-highest launch angle of 41 degrees as the ball skimmed the top of the wall and bounced into the left field bullpen.

Thames is no stranger to the hype that has surrounded his stunning return to Major League Baseball, but admitted some confusion over the Brewers’ rowdy postgame celebrations, which have improved on the shaving cream pies and Gatorade showers he was subject to during his first major league run.

I didn’t know about the jersey rip-off and the undershirt rip-off,” Thames told MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy. “It’s like, my nipple is hanging out, I’ve got all these drinks in my eyes. My eyes are still burning from it, but obviously it’s great the guys are having fun.

Red Sox 2, Astros 1: Mookie Betts‘ solo home run proved the deciding factor in Friday’s series opener, but the Red Sox nearly handed their one-run lead back to the Astros after a peculiar play in the eighth inning. With one out and runners on first and second base, the Astros’ Evan Gattis swung at a changeup from Matt Barnes. Christian Vasquez gloved the ball behind the plate and fired it to third, catching the tip of Gattis’ bat on its way out. Jose Altuve stole third base while Josh Rutledge stepped off the bag to field a ball that never arrived — it instead ricocheted toward first base, where it was scooped by Barnes.

The rest of the game was anticlimactic by comparison: Gattis hit into a rally-killing double play on the next pitch and Craig Kimbrel polished off the win with a scoreless ninth for his 19th save of the year.

Indians 8, Twins 1: The Indians are fast closing in on first place in the AL Central, thanks in part to a strong showing from Carlos Carrasco this weekend. The right-hander tossed 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball, keeping the Twins to one run and striking out seven of 25 batters. Minnesota left-hander Nik Turley, on the other hand, has yet to win a game this season. He got shelled in 4 2/3 innings, taking his first loss after giving up eight runs on nine hits and four walks.

Rockies 10, Giants 8: Pitchers’ home runs should count more than regular home runs, right? Given their relative rarity, it only seems fair.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t have done much good for the Giants on Friday. Jeff Samardzija‘s monster home run in the fifth inning — 446 feet, a Statcast record for power-hitting pitchers — gave the Giants a temporary 4-1 lead, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Rockies’ five-run surge in the bottom of the fifth.

Athletics 7, Yankees 6: Matt Chapman looked right at home during his first major league game. The rookie third baseman pounced on a curveball from Yankees’ right-hander Jonathan Holder, lashing it to left field to extend the A’s lead to 7-6 in the eighth inning.

That ended up being the difference maker, giving the A’s just the edge they needed to… well, maintain their last-place standing in the AL West.

Royals 3, Angels 1: Despite the flurry of no-hitters over the last five years (18, to be exact), no MLB pitcher has managed to toss a perfect game since Felix Hernandez‘s gem for the Mariners in 2012. Ian Kennedy gave it his best shot on Friday night, coming 10 outs shy of his first career perfecto before Cliff Pennington ripped a 3-1 homer in the sixth inning.

According to MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan, Kennedy didn’t appear to bear any ill will towards Pennington for breaking up his bid:

I know Cliff pretty well,” Kennedy said, smiling. “I mean, he’s a terrible friend. I told him he’s a terrible friend and I was deleting his phone number. Nah, if I was going to give it up, at least it was to a friend.

Max Scherzer continues to be ridiculous. And underrated.

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Max Scherzer won the Cy Young Award last year and in 2013, but I still feel like he’s underrated somehow.

People know he’s great, but it’s not 100% guaranteed that people will mention his name quickly when they bring up the best starters in baseball, even though he’s clearly one of them. Kershaw is Kershaw. Madison Bumgarner gets a lot more press due to the World Series heroics. Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, David Price, Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke get mentioned more. Aces who have fallen off of their perch — like Felix Hernandez — get a lot of chatter too, for obvious reasons.

Scherzer, I feel, just flies under the radar. He’s just so reliable, I suppose, that his dominance is almost taken for granted. Whatever the reasons why, there aren’t as many conversations about Max Scherzer: future Hall of Famer as there should be.

Maybe I’m wrong about that and maybe I just miss all of those conversations. And maybe it doesn’t really matter too much. But man, it’s worth looking at what he’s been doing lately, because people aren’t talking too much about that either.

Scherzer allowed one run — unearned — and only three hits and two walks while striking out 14 Los Angeles Dodgers batters over seven innings last night, throwing 73 of his 105 pitches for strikes. And it’s not like this is something rare or new for him. It’s the third straight start in which he’s recorded double-digit strikeouts. It’s the sixth time in 12 starts he’s done so this year. He’s notched 11 or more strikeouts in five of his past seven starts dating back to May 4.

By every objective measure he’s having a better season in 2017 than he had in his Cy Young-winning 2016 season. He’s once again on a 20-win pace. His ERA is over half a run lower. His FIP is half a run lower. His strikeout rate is a full K per nine innings higher. His walk rate is holding steady. His home run rate is down. He leads the National League in games, innings, strikeouts, ERA+, WHIP, home run rate and strikeout rate. And, of course, he’s the ace for the team with the best record in the National League.

This is Max Scherzer’s fifth consecutive year of elite level performance, which is enough to constitute a Hall of Fame peak. He’s obviously not slowing down, however, so that peak may last for several more years. Given how reliable he is and healthy he has been, his overall counting stats are going to pad things out well too, which puts him on course for Cooperstown.

I think most people, if they stop to think about it, would acknowledge that. But I do want to remind most people to stop and think about it, because I’m fairly certain that Max Scherzer doesn’t get the raves he deserves.