And That Happened: Wednesday's scores and highlights

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All manner of pathetic offensive/excellent pitching performances last
night, characterized by multiple 1-0 games. Many of these games can be
broken down into three categories: the pitcher who pitched great and
won; the pitcher who pitched great and got boned; and the blind pig of
a batter who managed to find the one stinkin’ truffle of a run that
made the difference. Oh, and there’s a nice Monty Python bit down in
the Yankees-Mariners recap and some totally uncalled for Canada bashing
down in the Blue Jays-Rays item. Enjoy!

Dodgers 1, Rockies 0: Won:
Ramon Troncoso, but he was a reliever. Clayton Kershaw started but
couldn’t hang around for the win because he walked too many guys and
threw 97 pitches in five innings. Boned: Jason Hammell (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 5K), who pitched way better than Kershaw but had no blind pig on his side. Blind Pig: Rafael Furcal with an RBI single.

Reds 1, Diamondbacks 0: Won: Johnny Cueto (6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER 8K); Boned: Jon Garland (6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER); Blind Pig: Joey Votto with an RBI single.

Mets 1, Brewers 0: Won: Mike Pelfrey (7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 6K). Boned: Yovani Gallardo (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 12K). Blind Pig: Ryan Church, RBI single.

OK, so it was only three, but I don’t recall any days in the past couple of years with even that many 1-0 games. Anyway:

Yankees 4, Mariners 2: Bring out your dead! Bring out your dead!

Buster Olney: Here’s one
Cart-master: Ninepence.
Alex Rodriguez: (feebly) I’m not dead!
Cart-master: (surprised) What?
Buster Olney: Nothing! Here’s your ninepence….
Alex Rodriguez: I’m not dead!
Cart-master: ‘Ere! ‘E says ‘e’s not dead!
Buster Olney: Yes he is.
Alex Rodriguez: I’m not!
Cart-master: ‘E isn’t?
Buster Olney: Well… he will be soon– he’s very ill…
Alex Rodriguez: I’m getting better!
Buster Olney: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.
Alex Rodriguez: I feel happy! I feel happy! (2-4, HR, 2 RBI)

Red Sox 6, Orioles 5:
Back atcha, Baltimore! The O’s blow a 5-1 lead in the ninth and woof it
away in the 11th. “I thought today was a great opportunity for our
bullpen to come show the league what we’re really made of,” Papelbon
said after the game. “I think we answered that with flying colors.” And
that answer is that the bullpen is made out of mixed metaphors until
the cows come home to roost.

Braves 11, Phillies 1:
Following up on yesterday’s comment, I did tell Bill at Crashburn Alley
that the Braves would lose the Hamels-Jurrjens game, so I was
technically wrong. Still, I predicted Atlanta winning two of three, so
they can vindicate me with a loss tomorrow. Jair Jurrjens pitched
better than the guys up in the 1-0 games (7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 6K) and the
Braves actually got some offense for a damn change.

Cubs 4, Pirates 1:
That’s three straight wins for Randy Wells (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER). Some
other good news: Aramis Ramirez is ready to rehab, and now the Cubs get
to see how he plays in Peoria.

White Sox 6, Indians 2:
Oh come on cut the rah rah sh*t Taylor! Year after this I go free
agent. Plus me and my agent got a couple of plans for life after
baseball. So I am not about to risk major injury or displace this
property for a collection of stiffs!

Athletics 5, Tigers 1:
This is kind of how the A’s drew it up in the offseason: Bombs from
Giambi and Cust, a solid start from Dallas Braden and a nice win at
home. Two facts from the game story: (1) “The 38-year-old Giambi, who
has been dealing with sore legs . . .”; and (2) “[Giambi] was in a
2-for-28 stretch before the homer after striking out in his first two
at-bats.” How in the hell are his legs getting sore? Turning on his
heel and walking back to the bench too hard?

Twins 5, Royals 1:
Joe Mauer was 3 for 3, knucklebaler R.A. Dickey was perfect for an
inning and a third, the Twins won, and Justin Morneau experienced
tightness in his groin. Only one of these facts is truly significant in
the grand scheme of things, but good for Mauer and the Twins and bad
news for Morneau all the same.

Marlins 5, Nationals 3:
From the game story: “Asked to explain Florida’s baffling mastery of
the Washington Nationals, Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez offered the
simplest explanation. ‘We’ve been lucky,’ he said.” Wait. Since when
did beating the Nationals on a regular basis constitute “baffling
mastery” as opposed to “utter inevitability?”

Cardinals 2, Giants 1:
Both Adam Wainwright (9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 12K) and Matt Cain (7 IP, 6 H, 1
ER) were kinda boned in what I’m choosing to call Game 3 of “Molina
Fest.” Worth noting in light of my little anti-La Russa bit on Tuesday,
that this is exactly the kind of game where an extra bat or two off the
bench — as opposed to three or four pitchers you have no intention of
using down in the bullpen — might come in handy once in a while. And
for the record, I had this on in the background and found Sutcliffe
somewhat less annoying than he was when I ranted about him last week. I
can only assume that I either missed all of the obnoxious parts or else
the pod people got hold of him the other day and replaced him with a
less-assaulting replica.

Rangers 9, Angels 7:
This looked like a wild one, at least from the box score. How wild?
Jarrod Saltalamacchia struck out yet still scored in the sixth inning.

Astros 7, Padres 1:
Not much interesting here, but this is interesting “The Padres say
Friday night’s game against Manny Ramirez and the Los Angeles Dodgers
is a sellout.” But . . . but . . . Bill Plaschke said we shouldn’t
approve of Manny Ramirez’s vile and wicked ways!

Blue Jays 5, Rays 0:
Ricky Romero (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 7K) can join the 1-0 All-Stars along
with Jurrjens. Oh, and yesterday was Canada Day, too. For those of you
who don’t know, Canada Day celebrates the anniversary of the 1 July
1867 enactment of the British North America Act, which defiantly
declared Canada’s independence from the evil British and promised that
blood will be shed in the interests of Canadian freedom if necessary.
Wait . . .what’s that? Oh, I’m sorry, I got that wrong. The Act
actually declared that Canada was requesting to form a federation, with
said request being gradually granted by British fiat over multiple
ensuing decades. All while being overseen by Canada’s Governor General,
who, to this very day, remains in place as a viceregal representative
of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, who still goes by the title The
Queen in Right of Canada. Inspiring, when you think about it.*

*Before Jonah Keri, Pete Toms and the ghost of John Brattain
come after me for this gratuitous anti-Canadian rant, please know that
both of my maternal grandparents hailed from the Great White North.
Maybe that’s a weak (and in and of itself offensive) defense for my
thinly-veiled American exceptionalism, but I’m hoping that this,
combined with my general tolerance/occasional enjoyment of Rush, my
love of Tim Hortons Timbits, and the fact that my family hosted a
visiting table tennis player during the 1984 Canusa Games
will get me off the hook. Though, in the interests of full disclosure,
I feel obligated to say that we all hated that table tennis kid and
were happy when he went back home to Hamilton.

Nationals’ Soto youngest ever to win NL batting crown

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — Juan Soto became the National League’s youngest batting champion, Trea Turner hit a grand slam and drove in seven runs, and the Washington Nationals closed out the season with a 15-5 victory over the New York Mets on Sunday.

Soto walked and singled before being lifted for a pinch hitter in the third inning, elevating his average to .351 and sealing the NL lead in the category during this pandemic-shortened 60-game season.

The 21-year-old Soto surpassed Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser for the youngest ever to take a batting crown. Reiser was 22 when he ended the 1941 season hitting a league-leading .343.

“For me, it doesn’t matter the age,” Soto said with a smile when informed of the feat’s historical significance. “If you deserve it, you deserve it.”

Soto held off Atlanta teammates Freddie Freeman (.341) and Marcell Ozuna (.338) and also finished 2020 with the major league-lead in on-base percentage (.490) and slugging percentage (.695).

Yan Gomes homered for Washington, which won seven of its last nine and closed the season on a three-game winning streak and caught the Mets in the NL East standings.

“These guys don’t quit,” Washington manager Dave Martinez said. “They play hard every day and you saw what they did the last nine games. I’m proud of them hanging in there.”

The Nationals finished 26-34 a year after winning their first World Series. The Nationals’ .433 winning percentage in the truncated season was the lowest for a defending champion since the 1998 Florida Marlins went 54-108 (.333).

New York slipped from 86-76 last season and third place in the NL East to 26-34 and tied for fourth in manager Luis Rojas’ first season. The Mets still held slim playoff hopes entering Saturday before dropping three in a row, and they would have secured a wild card had they won those games because of three-game slides by Philadelphia and San Francisco to end the season.

“We didn’t get it done,” Rojas said. “We needed to do it, and we didn’t do it. It was definitely all on us. It makes it a little bit more frustrating just seeing that part happened the way we wanted, but we didn’t execute what we needed to do.”

Pete Alonso homered twice for New York and finished with 16 after clubbing a rookie-record 53 last season. Guillermo Heredia added a solo shot for the Mets.

Washington right-hander Austin Voth (2-5) needed 36 pitches to escape the first but made it through five innings to close his season with back-to-back victories. Voth allowed four runs while striking out four.

The Nationals chased Mets starter Seth Lugo after 1 1/3 innings. Lugo (3-4) allowed six runs on five hits and two walks.

With Washington already leading 7-3, Turner busted the game open with a third-inning grand slam off reliever Steven Matz. It was Washington’s first grand slam of the season.

KENDRICK’S FUTURE

Washington and INF Howie Kendrick have a mutual option for 2021, and he has at least one prominent figure hopeful for his return.

“I’m holding onto his leg,” Martinez said. “He’s got a lot of discussions to have with his family and I told him we’ll stay in touch as we always do and we’ll see where he’s at.”

The 37-year-old Kendrick hit .275 with two homers and 14 RBIs in 25 games, and ended the season on the injured list with a left hamstring strain.

NATS AWARDS

Soto was named Washington’s player of the year and RHP Max Scherzer (5-4, 3.74 ERA) earned the team’s pitcher of the year award in voting by local media. LHP Sean Doolittle won his third consecutive Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: New York placed RHP Erasmo Ramirez (right groin tightness) on the injured list. Ramirez was 0-0 with an 0.63 ERA in six games. The Mets recalled RHP Corey Oswalt.

Nationals: OF Victor Robles was hit by a pitch in the second inning and was lifted for a defensive replacement in the third.

UP NEXT

Mets: New York opens its 2021 spring training schedule on Feb. 27 against Miami in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Nationals: Washington takes on Houston on Feb. 27 in West Palm Beach, Florida, in its scheduled 2021 spring training debut.