Craig Calcaterra

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper pumps his fist as he takes a curtain call after he hit a grand slam during the third  inning of an baseball game against the Atlanta Braves, Thursday, April 14, 2016, in Washington. This was Harper's 100th home run of his career. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Associated Press

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 7, Pirates 4: A quietly excellent start for the Tigers, who took three of four in a home-and-home against the Pirates. Jordan Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings, Nick Castellanos homered and drove in four. Last year the Tigers could never really depend on starters in Zimmermann’s position in the rotation and didn’t get much out of Castellanos. If those things have changed, so too have the team’s fortunes.

Phillies 3, Padres 0: I wrote up how amazing Vince Velasquez’s start was here and Bill added some extra facts about it here. Then on Twitter I had the audacity to note that, perhaps, this Padres team, which has been shutout in half of its games so far this year, is not actually very good and that their futility also contributed to the results. Because it’s possible, is it not, for a pitcher to have (a) pitched AMAZINGLY well; and (b) for a team to suck.

Guess not! Because Phillies fans came out of the woodwork to tell me how crappy a thing that was to say and how disrespectful I was. One called me a “clown” and many said I had an axe to grind because I’m a Braves fan. One person asked if I would dare say such a thing if John Smoltz had turned in such a performance. Another asked if I’d say it if Clayton Kershaw did. Because, yes, Velasquez has totally earned a comp to a Hall of Famer and the best pitcher in baseball. In other news, I missed Phillies fans and how insanely sensitive and insecure they can be. Their team having sucked for a while has kept them quiet in recent years, but it only took one game for that “you must not only note how GOOD we are, but you must also RESPECT us and not say ONE THING BAD ABOUT US EVER, EVEN INDIRECTLY, or else we’ll lose our minds” side to reemerge. I missed that. 2010 seems so long ago.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 0: An equally fantastic outing from Jaime Garcia, who handcuffed the Brewers with 13 strikeouts in a complete game shutout. To be on the safe side here, let me say that the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers are as good as the 1927 Yankees and Jaime Garcia is basically Walter Johnson. Let no man say that I have disrespected the Cardinals!

White Sox 3, Twins 1: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Twins lost again. The Twins have scored only 14 runs in those nine games. The White Sox, meanwhile, are 7-2, which is their best start since they went 8-1 to begin the 1982 season.

Indians 6, Rays 0: Danny Salazar pitched six shutout innings, striking out nine and walking three. Chris Archer, meanwhile, is 0-3 after giving up three runs on seven hits in five and a third. He is 0-6 with a 5.83 ERA in nine starts since beating Baltimore on Aug. 31.

Rockies 11, Giants 6: Jorge De La Rosa will probably have a statue at Coors Field some day. Sounds crazy, but really, he’s the only pitcher who has truly survived that place and, at times, has thrived. Yesterday he contributed with his bat and his arm, notching two hits and driving in two runs while allowing three earned runs, striking out seven and pitching into the seventh inning. Is that pitching line the stuff of legends? Nah, but merely going into the seventh as a Rockies starter is impressive and without checking, I’m going to assume he’s done it more than anyone, perhaps by a factor of two or three.

Cubs 8, Reds 1: The sweep. The Cubs are now 8-1 for the first time in 47 years. That, for those of you who can do math, was 1969. That year they started out as winners of 11 of 12. The season didn’t end well for them then — black cats and the New York Mets happened — but it certainly can’t be a bad thing to start out this hot.

Nationals 6, Braves 2: Bryce Harper’s 100th career homer was a grand slam. It broke a piece of the friggin’ scoreboard too. For those who pay attention to such things, Harper’s 100th came in his 518th career game, when he was 8,851 days old. Hank Aaron’s 100th homer came in his 538th game, when he was 8,594 days old. The Braves will likely not win a game for another 8,937 days.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2: A three-run bomb from Josh Donaldson in the fifth and a solo shot from Troy Tulowitzki in the sixth. Donaldson’s went a long, long way. The reigning MVP has five home runs, 12 RBI, and a .325 average on the season.

Rangers 6, Orioles 3: A five-run sixth inning by Texas got Cole Hamels off the hook for a loss and handed him a win while handing the O’s their second straight loss. Rougned Odor had a tie-breaking two-run double as part of that rally.

Royals 6, Astros 2: So far so good for a free agent pickup a lot of people thought could be a bust or, at the very least, an overpay. Ian Kennedy turned in his second straight strong outing to start the season, allowing only two hits — though one was a homer — in seven innings. In his debut last weekend against the Twins he pitched six and two-thirds shutout innings. Of course, that was the Twins and they’re terrible [waits for Royals fans to get as pissy as Phillies fans about such a statement; waits forever; dies having never heard a peep because Royals fans, while increasingly hilarious lately, aren’t crazily insecure people].

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 2: The Dodgers were down 2-0 in the seventh — with starter Ross Stripling’s excellent outing seemingly going for naught for a second straight time — but then their bats woke up. Kiké Hernandez hit a two-run double and Yasiel Puig, Jacob Turner and Adrian Gonzalez each singled in runs. In other news, Kiké Hernandez’s heroics are the single biggest reason I’ve learned how to write the accent symbol.

Jaime Garcia had a heck of a day too

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) pitches in the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Thursday, April 14, 2016 in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Tom Gannam)
Associated Press
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Vincent Velasquez wasn’t the only one who had a heck of a day on the mound. Jaime Garcia of the Cardinals turned in a gem as well.

Garcia, facing the Brewers in St. Louis, pitched a one-hit shutout, allowing only one hit and striking out 13 while walking only one batter. His game score — if you’re into that sort of thing — was a 97. Same as Velasquez’s, for what it’s worth. I tend not to think game scores are all that important or useful, but this little nugget can at least tell us that today was a rare afternoon:

Nice day for Garcia. A pitcher who you always wondered how good he’d be if he didn’t have so many health problems over the years. The answer: really, really good.

Vince Velasquez had a ridiculous afternoon

Philadelphia Phillies' Vince Velasquez pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Thursday, April 14, 2016, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
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Some of you may not know who Vincent Velasquez is. If you don’t, know that he is a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies. Know that he’s 23 and that he was a second round pick of the Astros in 2010. Know that last year was his rookie season with Houston and he was nothing remarkable in 19 games of swingman work, but that he has a mid-90’s fastball and upside as a top-of-the-rotation starter or, depending on how his secondary stuff develops, a top bullpen arm one day.

Know also that Velasquez was the centerpiece of the Ken Giles trade to Houston. And know that Giles got blown up for the Astros last night and had a rough spring to boot.

And know that today Velasquez just eviscerated the San Diego Padres. He went the distance, striking out 16 batters, didn’t walk anyone and allowed only three hits in tossing a shutout. Not just a __ shutout innings thing, a real, bonafide, now rare big boy shutout. He needed 113 pitches to do it. He even got a hit, which is the first of his career. The Phillies won 3-0. Here’s a video of one of his strikeouts. Here’s a video of another.

Phillies fans already knew him. Astros fans already knew him and, after Giles’ early struggles, were probably already missing him dearly before this afternoon. Just imagine how they feel now.