And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Giants 15, Brewers 2: Observations regarding this bloodbath: (1) Brian Sabean spent the first month of the season talking about how Buster Posey wasn’t ready for the bigs yet. Yeah: 4 for 4, 2 HR, 6 RBI; (2) Lost in the carnage is the fact that Tim Lincecum pitched a whale of a game: 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 10K; (3) As has become habit, I spent a third of my latest HBT Extra segment slamming something (i.e. the Giants’ lack of offense), only to have those criticisms contradicted by pesky fact in short order; and (4) it’s sad to see Trevor Hoffman used as a mopup man.

Reds 3, Mets 1: Bronson Arroyo — or, as I shall henceforth call him, Captain America — shuts down the Mets over eight innings. Brandon Phillips had a homer and an RBI double and flashed some nice leather for the Redlegs. He also was interviewed by NBC’s own Tiffany Simons the other day. In recent weeks she’s interviewed Evan Longoria, Jose Reyes, Kevin Youkilis and now Phillips. They all had really excellent games within 24 hours of the interview going down. Coincidence? Before you answer, know that she interviews me every week and I keep shuffling through life as though someone has cauterized my synapses and wrapped my hands in thick bandages, so maybe her powers only work on mega-athletes.

Marlins 4, Dodgers 0: Josh Johnson was, once again, spectacular, shutting out the Dodgers over eight innings and striking out eight. His ERA, by the way, is 1.70 — way lower than Ubaldo Jimenez’s — but he’s getting about a fraction of the press Jimenez continues to get.

Tigers 4, Orioles 2: You’re saving your really good lies for some smarter cop, is that it?
I’m just a donut in the on-deck circle. Wait until the real guy gets
here. Wait until that big guy comes back. I’m probably just his
secretary. I’m just Montel Williams. You want to talk to Larry King.
I’ve been in murder police for ten years. If you’re going to lie to me,
you lie to me with respect. What is it? Is it my shoes? Is it my
haircut? Got a problem with my haircut? Don’t you ever lie to me like
I’m Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams. I am not Montel Williams!

Sorry. Once a year I crack at the sameness of Baltimore Orioles recaps and feel the need to go all Detective Munch on them. I wish you didn’t have to see that, but I can’t control it. There are days I wish I could be transported back to 1970 and I could write glowing praise about the latest Orioles victory, but that ain’t gonna happen.  As it is, the Orioles aren’t good enough for that and, sadly, they’re not interesting enough for me to even mock like I sometimes do to the Pirates or the Nats in recent years.  They’re just depressing team that makes me reach back 16 or 17 years for TV quotes to dull the pain.

Braves 7, Phillies 5: A couple of bombs from Martin Prado + a three-run double in the course of a six run inning for Brian McCann = the Phillies in a flat spin. Pfun Pfact, courtesy of Mac Thomason: Phillies starter Jamie Moyer made his major league debut when Braves starter Kris Medlen was nine months
old.

Nationals 7, Padres 6: Adam Dunn slams three home runs. The Donkey is on pace for yet another damn spectacular season and yet the first thing out of most people’s mouths when they talk about him is how he strikes out all the time.

Rays 6, Red Sox 4: The Rays sweep the Bosox behind David Price, who picked up his 12th win. Weirdness alert: Joe Maddon had Matt Garza close the game. No real explanation in the game story I read other than he only threw three innings in his last outing. Of course, he threw 84 pitches in those three innings, so it’s not like he was totally fresh.  Whatever. If Casey Stengel could use Whitey Ford in relief I suppose Joe Maddon can use Matt Garza there once in a while.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5: Jose Bautista hit an inside the park homer which (altogether now!) was the result of poor defense.  Delmon Young hit a homer in the losing effort. You know, between Garza being relegated to the bullpen in Tampa and Young hitting bombs and being talked about as an All-Star, can we now say that the Twins won that trade?

No, of course we can’t, but I did want to see who was paying attention.

Cubs 8, Diamondbacks 3: This, from the game story, is a rather startling stat: Arizona had 10+ strikeouts for the
fifth straight game. The AP writer calls it Arizona’s “whiff-a-palooza,” which I rather like.

Royals 7, Mariners 3: Down by a run in the eighth, no outs, runners on first and second, Ned Yost ordered Alberto Callaspo to bunt. He couldn’t get the bunt down, however, so with the count 3-2 he swung away and hit a three-run homer. There’s a lesson in there that I’m guessing Ned Yost will never learn.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 7: It’s probably time to start worrying, Cardinals fans. For the second straight night St. Louis blows a lead late. This one wasn’t as dramatic — what could be? — but the Cards had a 5-0 lead in the fifth and a 7-4 lead in the seventh, but once again the pen couldn’t seal the deal.

Yankees 6, Athletics 2: The A’s simply didn’t show up for this series. They even made A.J. Burnett look good last night (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER).

White Sox 5, Angels 2: The Sox have now passed Minnesota and sit in second place, a mere game behind the Tigers.

Astros 6, Pirates 3: Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman hit homers. This is not a repeat from Tuesday night. Astros’ starter Brian Moehler had to leave the game with a groin injury. No matter how many times I write the words “groin injury” — which I estimate has been 1,952 times since I began blogging — it still makes me wince.

Rangers 4, Indians 3: Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick! Would the AP writer stop obsessing on Josh Hamilton’s “home hitting streak?”  Quick — how many of Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games were home games? If you can’t answer that without looking it up, this little statoid is meaningless drivel.  In other news, Michael Young is one of the guys in the “final vote” thing for the All-Star Game. According to the game writeup “the Rangers have enlisted Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten” in the effort “with Witten encouraging
fans to vote online for Young.” Does this really motivate anyone? I mean, I know people get Cowboys crazy down there, but if a Cowboy asked you to jump off a bridge would the Metroplex do it?  Wait, don’t answer that.

Braves sweep Mets, take 2-game lead in East with 3 remaining

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Adam Hagy/Getty Images
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ATLANTA — Matt Olson knew the Atlanta Braves were too talented to stay in a season-long slump.

That’s why no one panicked when the New York Mets’ division lead swelled to double digits in May. Now the Braves are on the cusp of another NL East title.

“It’s a clubhouse full of guys who want to win,” Olson said. “That’s all it’s been since the moment I walked in. That’s No. 1 on the program.”

Dansby Swanson and Olson homered for the third straight game, Travis d'Arnaud hit a go-ahead two-run single in the third inning, and Braves beat New York 5-3 on Sunday night, completing a three-game sweep of their NL East rival and taking a two-game lead in the division with three games to play.

The defending World Series champion Braves have been chasing the Mets the entire season. In the final series of the season, any combination of one Atlanta win or one Mets loss would give the Braves their fifth straight division title.

New York plays its final three games of the season against worst-in-the-majors Washington. Atlanta closes out the regular season with a three-game set in Miami. Should the season end Wednesday in a tie, Atlanta would win the division after claiming the season series 10-9 with Sunday’s victory.

“We’ve felt this confidence since the beginning of the year,” d’Arnaud said. “It just didn’t go our way early in the year, but pulling on the same rope, having each others’ backs, not trying to do too much. We’re just trying to play the game of baseball and have fun with it.”

The Braves won five of the last six games in the series, outscoring the Mets 42-19 over that stretch. New York had a 10 1/2-game lead on June 1 but now is the lower in the standings than at any point this season.

It was a lost weekend for New York, which came to Atlanta hoping to clinch its first division title since 2015. Instead, aces Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer lost Friday and Saturday before Chris Bassitt lasted just 2 2/3 innings on Sunday.

“We still have three games left in the regular season, we’re still going to the postseason, that doesn’t change, but there’s a lot of learning points that we can take from this series moving forward,” Mets slugger Pete Alonso said. “I thought we played well, but the Braves played better. They played excellent baseball this entire weekend.”

Swanson took Bassitt deep to right-center in the first with his 25th homer, and Atlanta took charge with a three-run third. Bassitt (15-9) issued a bases-loaded walk to Olson before d’Arnaud delivered a single up the middle to score Ronald Acuna Jr. and Austin Riley for a 4-3 lead. That chased Bassitt, who was charged with four runs, three hits and three walks.

Olson connected for his 33rd homer to make it 5-3 leading off the sixth, his 410-foot shot landing in the seats in right-center. Olson, in his first year with Atlanta, surpassed 100 RBIs for the second straight season.

“Everyone knew we were underperforming when we were flirting around that .500 range,” Olson said. “It was one of those things where it was trusting the talent we have and the guys in the clubhouse. Everybody was solid, head down, do your work, it’ll turn around and you wind up winning.”

Charlie Morton stranded runners on first and second in the first, but he gave up Daniel Vogelbach‘s 18th homer that tied it at 1 in the second. The righty struck out Francisco Lindor with runners on first and second to end the threat.

Jeff McNeil went deep off Morton in the third and Vogelbach followed with an RBI single to put the Mets up 3-1. Morton entered the game having allowed 28 homers, sixth-most in the NL.

Morton scuffled throughout his start, giving up three runs and nine hits in 4 1/3 innings as the 38-year-old made his first start since signing a $20 million, one-year contract to remain with Atlanta next season.

Dylan Lee (5-1) relieved Morton and pitched 1 1/3 innings, leaving after a walk to Brandon Nimmo with two outs in the sixth. Collin McHugh entered and struck out Francisco Lindor.

Raisel Iglesias faced four batters in the seventh, A.J. Minter faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen converted his third save of the series with a clean ninth.

Jansen leads the NL with 40 saves in 47 chances.

The Braves’ bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA last month, pitched 8 2/3 scoreless innings the last two nights.

BIG NUMBERS

Atlanta leads the NL with 241 homers. And the Braves have their first 100-victory season since 2003.

TWO, DARN HOT

McNeil went 3 for 5 and has multiple hits in five straight games. His average is .326, one point behind the Dodgers’ Freddie Freeman for the NL batting title. In 23 career games at Truist Park, McNeil is hitting .395 with 12 runs, nine doubles, two homers, seven RBIs and four walks. … Jansen tied Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley for eighth place on the career list with 389. He’s also is the 10th closer to have four different seasons with at least 40 saves.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. … Braves 2B Ozzie Albies (broken right pinky finger) is still wearing a cast. … Braves RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique.

ATTENDANCE

The Braves drew 42,713 in their regular season finale, the club’s 42nd sellout of the season. Overall. that’s 3,129,931 for the season – and the most tickets sold since 2000. In 2019, the team’s last full season before the COVID-19 pandemic, Atlanta drew 2,655,100.

UP NEXT

Mets: RHP Carlos Carrasco (15-7, 3.95 ERA) will face Nationals RHP Cory Abbott (0-4, 5.11).

Braves: RHP Bryce Elder (2-3, 2.76 ERA) will face Marlins LHP Jesus Luzardo (3-7, 3.53).