Craig Calcaterra

Pittsburgh Pirates' Jordy Mercer (10) stands on second base next to St. Louis Cardinals' Matt Adams (32) after driving in a run with a double off St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Seth Maness (43) during the eighth inning of the opening day baseball game in Pittsburgh, Sunday, April 3, 2016. The Pirates won 4-1. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
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And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I gave thought to changing this feature this year. Maybe the format, but certainly the name. I thought about going full-time with “Settling the Scores,” as we typically use on weekends because it makes more sense than an eight-year-old John Mayer-related meme. I also wonder if it’s the best use of my time to talk about EVERY game as opposed to just talk about some of the more interesting points from the night before along with a list of the scores. I reserve the right, at some point to make such changes, if for no other reason than to shake things up a bit.

On this Opening Day morning, however, I feel that the world has changed enough lately. That there is too much uncertainty in life and too much upheaval and that I need to hold on to something familiar, at least for a while. So let’s start another season, my friends. Let us begin Volume 9 of And That Happened.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Pirates 4, Cardinals 1: Francisco Liriano got the 2016 season started off with a 10-strikeout, 5-walk performance which, despite the game time temperature being a mere 39 degrees, was probably a lot of sweaty work. But effective! And he [altogether now] helped his own cause with an RBI single for the game’s first run. As the Cardinals scored no runs while he was the pitcher of record, it could be said that Liriano did everything he needed to do to win all by his dang self. It would be a total lie because baseball doesn’t work like that, but it could be said. As for the Cardinals, you really have to question Mike Matheny’s failure to heed the scouting reports which clearly state that Adam Wainwright has never done well on 345 days rest.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 3: Don’t try to strike everybody out. Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they’re fascist. Throw some ground balls – it’s more democratic. And effective too. Chris Archer and the Rays got all the attention for striking out 16 Blue Jays batters, but Marcus Stroman pitched into the ninth inning, allowing only three runs on six hits and a walk. The key: he allowed 21 total balls in play and a full 17 of them were of the ground. Keep the ball down, good things will happen. Just ask Crash Davis.

Royals 4, Mets 3: At least at the outset this was like Game 6 of the World Series that never happened, with some defensive miscues by the Mets pounced upon by the Royals. The whole #Relentless thing starting in the early innings, as if they had ordered more in the offseason and were not worried about depleting their reserves of #Relentless. Things did get different later, however, as the Royals much vaunted bullpen looked very human. The Mets scored three runs in the top of the eighth to bring them within one before Luke Hochevar put out the fire. Wade Davis was shaky too, allowing a runners on first and third situation with one down before closing things out. Not quite the same as last fall’s “don’t even THINK of scoring on us” bullpen performance, but a win all the same. The Royals lead the series 5-1 now. I love the Fall/Spring Classic.

The weird party that is Opening Day

Grounds crew members prepare for the field at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Saturday, April 2, 2016, for Sunday's opening day baseball game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals.  (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
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I wrote a somewhat different version of this on Opening Day, 2011. It skewed bit more pessimistic then — probably because I was going through some stuff at the time — and my thoughts on it all have evolved a bit. The core premise is still pretty important to me, however, so I wanted to update it some. Anyway, happy Opening Day.

Opening Day is baseball’s true time for celebration and jubilation. Sure, they put a big party on for the All-Star Game and the World Series, but the former is inconsequential. The latter is obviously great, but by the time it rolls around a huge number of fans have tuned out because their team is no longer in it. As far as celebrations go, the All-Star game is like Halloween, with everyone dressing up and getting treats, but none of it mattering the next day. The World Series is like some exclusive party that, however great it is, not everyone attends.

Opening Day, however, is real cause for revelry. A multi-day festival to which all are welcome. After a long cold winter, our passion is back. Be it figuratively or literally, we hang red, white and blue bunting from every facade and offer odes to sunshine, cut grass, bats cracking, hot dogs and organ music.

There is a risk, however, to overstating how much Opening Day actually means. A risk of delving too far into cliche and reading too much into things. Of thinking that the party is better-attended than it really is.

I bear no ill-will toward the casual fans who will party with us today and tomorrow. Our coworkers, our family members and all of the other people with whom we’ll share some Opening Day baseball happiness. Our local newspapers, politicians and institutions which will give baseball prime real estate and attention for the next couple of days. The more the merrier! But it’s worth remembering that most of them won’t be with us for most of our journey through the regular season. They will be excited, but their excitement won’t last. What they will happily call the National Pastime in the next couple of days won’t really resemble what you and I and our fellow degenerate, everyday baseball fans are truly into.

They don’t truly appreciate, like we appreciate, that the baseball season is a marathon, not a sprint. And that in no event is it a championship bout that justifies the Main Event Atmosphere that will reign supreme on this day. They don’t know, like we do, that the long haul matters and that the team that in the final end wins the war after losing many battles is more important than who wins any one game today. Today they’ll go nuts about the beauty of it all. But come August a lot of them who reveled today will disparage our game as boring and out of touch with today’s fast paced world, even if they do it politely and mildly.

And all of that’s OK. Like I said, it’s a big party. Like any other party, not all of the guests will stay until the end and, frankly, it’s probably a lot better that they don’t. Things will kick off uproariously while everyone is here. There will be F-18 flyovers and gigantic American flags on the outfield grass. There will be A-list first-pitch-throwers and the recitation of that Walt Whitman quote that, however overused and likely apocryphal it is, is pleasant to hear. Let’s all raise our glasses and enjoy the first couple hours of the party together, hardcore fans and dilettantes alike.

But after not too long, when the buzz has set in and the music has settled down into a steady groove, a lot of the partygoers will head for the exits and try to make it home because, hey, they have a babysitter on the clock and they have to get up for work tomorrow.

You and I, however, were smart not to go too crazy in those first couple of hours. We nursed a cocktail then, but after the crowd thins out a bit we’ll pour ourselves another drink and settle in. We’ll know that the real fun of this party will come when there were finally enough comfy chairs around for everyone to have one and we can hear each other talk over the din. Our baseball party will be here for us next week. Next month. And on through May, June, July, August, September and October. We’ll enjoy this party — or maybe “party” is too strong a word; let’s call it a gathering — on random Sunday afternoons and lonely Tuesday nights.

For us, baseball is not a symbol or a spectacle, but a game. A pastime in the literal sense of the word, not the metaphorical one it has become to some. Our lives will continue on, day by day, but night by night we will have our diversion. Our little fix that does not require us to set aside our lives or entire days like some other sports or hobbies do. Something that just hums along unobtrusively, always there for us, month after month. It’s certainly no party. Maybe it’s not even a gathering. For us, it’s just part of life. A part to be enjoyed as a constant rather than celebrated as a special occasion.

But that’s not until next week at the earliest. For now, we will grin and bear the somewhat overwrought spectacle that is Opening Day. We will certainly enjoy it, because baseball-as-overwrought spectacle still beats just about anything else there is in the world.  But we will also know, deep down, that today and tomorrow is a little weird. A pleasant weirdness through which we’ll smile and which we will endure until the heat blows over and we can enjoy baseball as God and Nature intended: casually. Without much fuss. A drink to be savored, not chugged.

Until then, though: play ball.

Guthrie agrees to terms on minor league deal with Padres

Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Colin E. Braley)
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SAN DIEGO (AP) Veteran right-hander Jeremy Guthrie has agreed to terms on a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres.

Guthrie will be assigned to Triple-A El Paso.

He was granted his release by the Texas Rangers on Monday.

The 36-year-old Guthrie signed a minor league deal with Texas right before spring training. He had a 5.14 ERA in three Cactus League appearances, allowing three home runs with five strikeouts over seven innings. In a Triple-A game last week, he gave up three solo homers over five innings.

Guthrie started Game 7 of the 2014 World Series for Kansas City but was left off the Royals’ postseason roster last season.

He is 91-108 with a 4.37 ERA in 305 career games for Cleveland, Baltimore, Colorado and Kansas City.