And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 16, Red Sox 5: After scoring 20 runs in their first nine games, the Rays asplode for 16. The most damage was inflicted by leadoff hitter Sam Fuld who went 4 for 6 — all extra base hits — with three RBI.  If this was the NBA Fuld would have stopped on first with that last double of his to get the cycle. Thank God this isn’t the NBA. Oh, and Fuld has some sweet catches in left, too. Before the season started there were Red Sox fans who liked to mock the Yankees’ pitching problems. Well, the Red Sox have now given up 69 runs in 10 games, so there isn’t anyone this side of that team of guys with handlebar mustaches who played the Gashouse Gorillas in the Bugs Bunny cartoon who Red Sox fans can mock for their pitching. And at least they signed Bugs later.

Mariners 8, Blue Jays 7: Wow. You figure that if you get seven runs and 12 hits in six innings off Felix Hernandez that you’re going to win. And the Jays had to figure they would given that they were up 7-0 heading into the bottom of the seventh. But nope: the M’s came back. Luis Rodriguez’s two-run single with two outs in the ninth was the game-winner. Milton Bradley was a key part of the comeback too, homering in the seventh and walking in a run and scoring the following inning. After this debacle, I’m guessing John Farrell is going to be loathe to go to his pen tonight.

Indians 4, Angels 0: Break up the Indians. That’s eight straight for Cleveland, this one coming on eight shutout innings from Mitch Talbot of all people. Asdrubal Cabrera’s solo homer in the first was all the Indians would need, but Matt Laporta added a three-run jack in the second.  Are the Indians this year’s version of last year’s Padres?

Rockies 7, Mets 6: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Mets took the lead but the bullpen blew it. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the Rockies were powered by Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez, each of whom drove in three. Jason Isringhausen pitched for the Mets. It was his first action in a Mets uniform since 1999.  Man, 1999 was a long time ago.

Rangers 2, Tigers 0: I thought that putting Neftali Feliz in the pen in favor of Alexi Ogando was a dumb move. And the part of that in which Neftali Feliz is not currently a starter is still dumb. Overall, however, the Ogando-in-the-rotation thing has been straight aces. He shut out the Tigers for seven innings running his scoreless innings streak to 13 in his two starts.  He left with a blister problem in this one and had a blister in his first start as well. Here’s hoping that isn’t a recurring theme.

Athletics 2, White Sox 1: Man, this one has to hurt. Mark Buehrle pitched eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball only to get the no-decision because his offense couldn’t do much of anything against Dallas Braden and Tyson Ross and because a Juan Pierre error in the ninth inning allowed the A’s to tie it up. Into the 10th and Kurt Suzuki homers off Jesse Crain for the game winner. Anyone have surveillance on Crain to make sure he’s not really a double agent, still on the Twins’ payroll?

Cubs 5, Astros 4: The Cubbies jumped all over Nelson Figueroa for 5-0 lead and then held on as the Astros chipped away but fell short. Starlin Castro was 3 for 5 with three runs scored. Second smallest crowd in the history of Minute Maid Park (20,175). I’m not going to say that baseball has come a long way in the past 25 years, but I remember some random promotional giveaway night at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium in the late 80s that drew a little over 20,000 and Skip Caray went on and on about how weird it was to play in front of such a big crowd. And while the Braves drew particularly poorly then, it wasn’t uncommon for teams to routinely have four digit attendance nights without anyone saying much about it.  Only a handful of teams back then would think of a 20K night as some dire low.

Dodgers 6, Giants 1: For the second time on the young season, Clayton Kershaw shut the Giants down. Shutting them out, in fact, through six and two-thirds anyway. Including Opening Day and his last start against the G-men last September, he hasn’t allowed a run over his last 23 and two-thirds innings against San Francisco. The game was dedicated to Bryan Stow, who was beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot on Opening Day. Before the game the players came together on the mound, offering a joint statement about how the rivalry needs to stay on the field. It was a nice gesture as was the fund raising to benefit Stow that each team has done in recent days. Sadly, however, the type of people who attacked Stow are likely immune to this message. After all, if the example of sportsmanship baseball players typically exemplify and the nature of baseball itself doesn’t set the proper example, the words of players likely won’t either. Like the man said: there’s a meanness in this world.

Reds 3, Padres 2: Once again Edinson Volquez was shaky in the first, allowing two runs, but once again he settled down and that’s all the Padres would muster all night. Mat Latos was the opposite in his season debut: he started strong, notching five strikeouts in his first three innings, but then made mistakes to Jonny Gomes and Chris Heisey, whose homers accounted for all of the Reds’ scoring.

Cardinals 8, Diamondbacks 2: Kyle McClellan allowed one run over six innings. He also doubled in a run in the third and singled in a run in the fourth to — wait for it! — help his own cause. Yadier Molina scored on the double, so without looking I’m going to say he was on third or else the double lodged in the wall or something. It was the most runs the Cards have scored all season. Oh, and Albert Pujols hardly contributed, going 1 for 5 with no runs scored.

Nationals’ sell-off a vindication for Dusty Baker

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The Nationals threw in the towel on Tuesday, trading second baseman Daniel Murphy to the Cubs and 1B/OF Matt Adams to the Cardinals. The club also placed outfielder and soon-to-be free agent Bryce Harper on revocable waivers but took him back. The Nats’ sell-off is a vindication for former manager Dusty Baker, let go after the Nationals failed to advance past the NLDS for a second straight year.

Baker had roughly the same team current manager Dave Martinez did. It was arguably worse, considering he never wrote Juan Soto‘s name on the lineup card. The 2018 squad, sans Baker, has been marked by mutiny and underachievement. While failing to reach the NLCS in Baker’s two years was disappointing, he took them to Game 5 in the NLDS both years as well as 95 and 97 regular season wins. Right now, Martinez’s squad has a winning percentage more than 100 points lower than Baker’s last year. They’re on pace to go 80-82, which would be their first sub-.500 season since 2011.

Baker has always had an undeserved bad rap. He was, correctly, blamed for the Cubs’ demise, due somewhat to Kerry Wood and Mark Prior falling apart, ostensibly from overuse. However, after his stint in Chicago, Baker took the lowly Reds from the bottom of the NL Central to the top in two years between 2008-10. Then he took the Nationals, which had won a meager 83 games in 2015 and had made the playoffs just twice since moving from Montreal, to two consecutive NLDS Game 5’s.

Not much changed from 2017 to ’18. Martinez inherited Ryan Zimmerman, Trea Turner, Anthony Rendon, Michael Taylor, Bryce Harper, Adam Eaton, Daniel Murphy, Matt Wieters, Max Scherzer, Tanner Roark, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson, Brandon Kintzler, Shawn Kelley, and Koda Glover, among others. But for one reason or another — injuries, admittedly, make up one reason — almost all of these players are having worse years under Martinez than under Baker. Describing the 2018 team to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, Baker said, “They’re together, but they’re separate.”

Is it strictly Baker that would make the difference? No, of course not. But the Nationals organization seems unwilling or unable to address issues that may extend into the front office. The Nats seem happy to go through a new manager every couple of years and hope that fixes all that ails them. Since Frank Robinson’s five years at the helm from 2002-06, Manny Acta managed two and a half years, Jim Riggleman one and a half, Davey Johnson two, Matt Williams two, Baker two. Maybe the problem was never the manager. Perhaps the problem is the Lerner family and Mike Rizzo.