Jose Bautista

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

13 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Pirates 10, Nationals 4: Adam Frazier had a heck of a game out of the leadoff spot for the Buccos, going 3-for-5 with four RBI. Tanner Roark started for the Nationals but gave up seven runs in five-plus frames. Roark finished 10th in NL Cy Young Voting last year with a 2.83 ERA, but he’s now sporting a 4.73 ERA this season over nine starts.

Rockies 5, Twins 1 (Game 1): Nolan Arenado hit a solo home run in the first inning to put the Rockies up early and they never looked back. Arenado also made a sweet backhand play in the bottom half of the first. While he hasn’t had an explosive month and a half the way Bryce Harper has, it still would not be surprising if he once again winds up in the NL MVP race.

Twins 2, Rockies 0 (Game 2): Jose Berrios pitched one of the best games of the year, blanking the Rockies on two hits and a walk with 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings. Berrios looked lost last year, when he put up an 8.02 ERA in 14 starts, but he’s been much better so far this season. He held the Indians to one run in 7 2/3 innings last Saturday. The Twins now have a slight first-place lead in the AL Central now. Who’dathunkit.

Cubs 9, Reds 5: Six losses in a row for the Reds now. Javier Baez gave the Cubs a large early cushion, crushing a grand slam in the first inning off of Amir Garrett. Kris Bryant also crushed a solo home run to center field in the fourth. Ian Happ collected two more hits to raise his average to .353 and his OPS to 1.324 since being called up.

Tigers 6, Orioles 5: J.D. Martinez stays red-hot as he blasted another homer, a three-run shot. He also drew three walks. In six games since making his season debut, Martinez has five homers and 11 RBI in 25 PA. Three Orioles homered: Chris Davis, Adam Jones, and Seth Smith. But the Tigers’ bullpen, surprisingly, was able to hold onto a narrow lead — something that has been a rarity this season.

Rangers 8, Phillies 4: Nine wins in a row for the Rangers now. To be fair, they’ve beaten up on the lowly Padres, Athletics, and Phillies, but still. Ryan Rua struck the big blow in this one, as his fifth-inning three-run home run capped off a five run inning. Martin Perez pitched well, holding the Phillies to two runs on five hits and no walks with eight strikeouts over seven innings.

Brewers 4, Padres 2: The first-place Brewers added to their lead in the NL Central as the Cardinals had the night off. Leadoff man Eric Sogard collected four hits and three RBI. Eric Thames finally made an appearance, but as a pinch-hitter and he made an out, stranding two runners. Zach Davies put up a quality start, yielding two runs in six innings. For the Padres, Hunter Renfroe went yard again, giving him three in his last five ballgames.

Blue Jays 9, Braves 0: After Wednesday’s fracas, the storyline going into Thursday’s game was centered around Jose Bautista, who flipped his bat after hitting a home run last night. Sure enough, Julio Teheran threw an inside fastball and hit Bautista on the thigh. Both benches were warned and nothing else happened. Thankfully, a better narrative emerged as catcher Luke Maile and starter Marcus Stroman hit back-to-back home runs, becoming the first American League battery to go back-to-back since May 9, 1970, per Sportsnet. That’s before the DH era began. As for the pitching, Stroman was solid but inefficient, lasting only 5 2/3 innings after throwing 103 pitches.

Royals 5, Yankees 1: Danny Duffy’s excellence continued, as he tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts. Mike Moustakas gave the Royals plenty of breathing room with a three-run home run in the fifth.

Athletics 8, Red Sox 3: Red Sox starter Hector Velasquez got knocked around for six runs in five frames in his major league debut. The A’s hit three homers, including Khris Davis who now has 12 on the year. Trevor Plouffe collected three hits. Every regular in the Athletics’ lineup had a hit except Stephen Vogt.

Dodgers 7, Marlins 2: Hyun-Jin Ryu held the Marlins to two runs in 5 1/3 innings. Yasiel Puig crushed a two-run home run halfway up the bleachers in left field off of Edinson Volquez in the second inning. Statcast measured that one at 442 feet. Kenley Jansen turned in an immaculate inning in the ninth to close out the game. There were a total of three immaculate innings in 2015 and ’16 combined, but we’ve already had four this season: Drew Storen, Craig Kimbrel, Max Scherzer, and Jansen.

Mariners 5, White Sox 4: The Mariners picked up their fifth walk-off win of the season as Guillermo Heredia singled to bring in Jarrod Dyson in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jean Segura hit a three-run home run to extend his hitting streak to 17 games. He now has a .359 average and a .915 OPS.

Report: MLB investigating Kevin Pillar’s use of a homophobic slur

Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
58 Comments

Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports that Major League Baseball is investigating Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar‘s use of a homophobic slur directed at Braves reliever Jason Motte on Wednesday night. Motte quick-pitched Pillar, which the latter did not like. After Pillar struck out, he yelled the slur at Motte.

Pillar did apologize to Motte later. Speaking to the media after Wednesday’s loss, he said, “It was immature, it was stupid, it was uncalled for. It’s part of the game, it’s just, I’m a competitive guy and heat of the moment. Obviously I’m going to do whatever I’ve got to do to reach out and apologize and let him know he didn’t do anything wrong, it was all me.”

Good on Pillar for doing the right thing afterwards, but Major League Baseball is right to investigate the incident because hateful language has no place in the game.

The benches actually cleared twice during Wednesday’s game: after Pillar and Motte’s tiff in the seventh inning, and after Jose Bautista hit a home run in the eighth. Bautista stared at his homer, then at reliever Eric O'Flaherty before flipping his bat demonstratively.

Somewhat related: Nationals pitcher Matt Albers appeared to shout a homophobic slur after closing out his team’s win over the Phillies on Sunday. Perhaps MLB should look into that, too.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

Getty Images
1 Comment

Saturday’s games featured Bryce Harper‘s impressive game-winning blast, Brandon Belt‘s first splash hit of the year and the reemergence of the infamous Rally Squirrel. Here are the rest of the day’s scores and highlights:

Blue Jays 7, Mariners 2: The Blue Jays aren’t playing like a last-place team these days. Marcus Stroman led the charge in the team’s sixth win of the week, delivering nine strikeouts and two runs over six solid innings. Jose Bautista came through with the three-run blast in the seventh, powering a five-run lead while the Mariners lost yet another starting pitcher to injury.

Giants 3, Reds 1: Whatever fatigue the Giants may have felt after their 17-inning victory the night before seemed to vanish by Saturday afternoon. Brandon Belt clubbed his first splash hit of the season, sinking a 2-1 pitch from Lisalverto Bonilla into McCovey Cove to get the Giants on the board in the first inning. Bonilla tossed the first complete game of his career, keeping the Giants to a three-run spread over eight innings and recording his first career hit, but was left hanging by a lackluster offense, who couldn’t solve Matt Moore to tie the game.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 3: Neither Jon Lester nor Carlos Martinez escaped with pristine pitching lines in Saturday’s match-up. Lester was dinged with four runs and four walks, falling victim to Jedd Gyorko‘s solo home run, an RBI single by Magneuris Sierra and a two-RBI effort from Tommy Pham. Martinez surrendered a home run to newcomer Ian Happ, who went 1-for-3 in his major league debut.

While the Cardinals eventually prevailed, taking a two-run lead for their 20th win of the season, both Lester and Martinez had another thing in common: they each produced an RBI base hit to get their respective teams on the board.

Twins 4, Indians 1: Jose Berrios cut a commanding figure on the mound during Saturday’s 4-1 win, imposing four strikeouts on the Indians and issuing just two hits, a walk and a run in his first outing of the season. Nearly as impressive: this party-crasher, who took a lap around the infield in the sixth inning and managed to evade capture after dashing into the stands.

Red Sox 6, Rays 3: Behind every great pitcher is a great offense, so the saying goes. Chris Sale‘s 12-strikeout effort was decorated with six runs from the Red Sox’ lineup, including Mookie Betts‘ sixth home run of the year:

Betts combined with Deven Marrero and Xander Bogaerts for an impressive run in the fifth inning, collecting three hits and four runs off of beleaguered Rays’ starter Blake Snell. With the win, the Sox sit 2.5 games above the Rays for third place in the AL East.

Nationals 6, Phillies 4: Bryce Harper is having a pretty remarkable weekend. Hours after inking a one-year, $21.65 million contract extension with the Nationals, Harper smashed a two-run shot off of Philadelphia reliever Edubray Ramos for his second walk-off home run of the season:

In the words of Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker: “Nobody can say he ain’t worth the money.”

Braves 3, Marlins 1: It’s probably nothing more than pure coincidence that the Marlins’ five consecutive losses overlapped with the five games they decided not to close the roof in Marlins Park this week. On Saturday evening, however, the lack of cover cost them an important run when Marcell Ozuna lost track of a ball during the fourth inning, losing it against the light-colored sky and allowing Freddie Freeman to stretch a routine fly ball into a leadoff double. Freeman came home to score two batters later on Nick Markakis‘ RBI single, putting the Braves up 1-0 and setting the stage for their eventual 3-1 win.

Brewers 11, Mets 4: With an injury-riddled rotation and the recent loss of closer Jeurys Familia, the Mets entered Saturday’s match at a clear disadvantage. Not helping matters was starter Robert Gsellman, who took his third loss of the season after the Brewers engineered an eight-run attack in the fifth inning. After dropping three straight games, the Mets sit a full seven games back of the division-leading Nationals with a 16-19 record.

White Sox 5, Padres 4: The Padres technically lost their 24th game of the year on a controversial play at the plate, but defensive miscues from starter Trevor Cahill set up the loss several innings in advance. In the fourth, Jose Abreu reached on a fielding error, then moved to second base when Cahill issued a wild pitch to Avisail Garcia:

That wild pitch was followed by another:

And another:

Not surprisingly, Abreu became the first White Sox player to score on three wild pitches since 1961.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: Striking out 12 batters in a single outing is a feat for any pitcher, but doing it in just five innings is almost unheard-of. Nate Karns delivered 12 strikeouts over five frames on Saturday, joining Jake Arrieta, Chris Archer, Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb and Zack Greinke as the only major league hurlers to record 12+ whiffs in five or fewer innings. (Most impressive is the Rays’ Alex Cobb, who struck out 13 batters in just 4 2/3 innings back in 2013.) There was plenty of excitement at the plate, too — the Orioles’ Francisco Pena clubbed his first and second home runs of the year, while Brandon Moss went deep for the go-ahead run in the sixth inning.

Rangers 6, Athletics 5: The A’s wasted another gem from Sonny Gray on Saturday, dropping their second game of the series after the Rangers exploded for four runs in the seventh inning. Yonder Alonso brought the team within one run of tying the game with his 12th home run of the year, but the rest of the offense fell short against Texas right-hander Matt Bush, who needed just 13 pitches to send the A’s packing in the ninth.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 0: Coors Field isn’t exactly what you’d call a pitcher’s park, but its hitter-friendly reputation didn’t seem to faze the Dodgers’ Alex Wood at all. Wood crafted six scoreless innings against the Rockies, allowing five hits and a walk and striking out 10 of 23 batters for his fourth win of the season. Although the left-hander commanded an inflated 7.16 run support average through his first seven outings of 2017, he needed just four runs to clinch Saturday’s shutout, including RBI doubles from Austin Barnes and Justin Turner, Brett Eibner’s first home run of the year, and Wood’s own sacrifice bunt.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 3: The Pirates finally caught a break on Saturday after sustaining a six-game skid last week. Right-hander Trevor Williams, whose performance has been inconsistent at best and downright terrible at worst, rebounded to deliver five innings of one-run, four strikeout ball, even generating his own run support after reaching base on a run-scoring error in the fourth inning. The Diamondbacks put up three home runs, including Nick Ahmed’s twin blasts off of Williams and reliever Tony Watson, but stranded the tying run on a game-ending pop-out in the ninth inning.

Tigers 4, Angels 3: J.D. Martinez is back, and boy, are the Tigers glad to see him. Martinez was a welcome, if underwhelming presence in the lineup during his season debut on Friday, but returned on Saturday to go 3-for-4 at the plate with two home runs — including the game-winning shot:

The Angels did cool things, too — Mike Trout hit his longest home run of the season and Albert Pujols tied Carl Yastrzemski with the 11th most career RBI in major league history — but faltered in the ninth inning for their 21st loss of 2017.