And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 3, Phillies 1: I had this game on in my den with the sound off while my wife watched “Black Swan” in the other room. That made it really creepy, especially when I tweeted about it last night and people kept proposing scenes in which Cliff Lee was the Natalie Portman character and Charlie Manuel was that letchy, Eurotrash director.  Try to get that out of your mind. Anyway, in four years every time he pitches, I see Lee obsessed, getting each and every pitch perfectly right but I never see him lose himself. Ever! All that discipline for what? Perfection? Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go. He should surprise himself so he can surprise the audience. Transcendence! Very few have it in them.  Lee often does. But not last night, as he walked six dudes. Of course, he was getting squeezed by home plate umpire Gerry Davis really bad. Just like Portman got squeezed by the letchy Eurotrash director. Yikes! See what I mean?!

Red Sox 8, Orioles 7: A very Matsuzakian start for Matsuzaka (4.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 7 BB) is salvaged by one near-comeback between the sixth inning in which Boston turned a 6-0 deficit into a 6-5 game and then a complete one in the ninth when the Sox scored two on the power of Kevin Gregg walks to Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia and then a game-winning double by Adrian Gonzalez.

Indians 19, Royals 1:  This is one of those games that’s gonna skew the Pythagorean record for both teams for a few weeks. And Vin Mazzaro’s ERA for, like, ever, thanks to him wearing one to the tune of 2.1 IP, 11 H, 14 ER, which is arguably the worst pitching performance in baseball history. Oh, and 76 pitches for Mazzaro too, which is insane. What, did Ned Yost catch poor Vin in bed with his wife or something?  The Royals starter, Kyle Davies, left in the first inning with some sort of shoulder injury, so the stage was set for disaster regardless. All the Royals can do is realize that it only counts as one loss.

Rays 6, Yankees 5:  Alright. Flush the bombers, get the subs in launch mode. We are at DEFCON 1.  You score five runs off David Price in five innings, you figure you’ll get the win. But A.J. gave up six, five of which came in the sixth inning.  Six losses in a row for New York, which is their longest streak in four years.

Rangers 4, White Sox 0: Colby Lewis pitches the shutout while striking out seven. After a little skid in late April, Lewis has put together four straight sharp starts.

Reds 7, Cubs 4: Carlos Zambrano was cruising with a one-hitter until he hit the sixth inning and promptly gave up six runs. In all, the Reds sent 12 batters to the plate. Which, aside from making their scorecards kind of a mess, pleased the hometown crowd.

Braves 3, Astros 2: Chipper Jones’ injury forced Martin Prado to third and put Eric Hinske in at left. Prado had a couple of fabulous defensive plays (and one awful one) and Hinske had three hits, including the tie-breaking single in the seventh. Just like they drew it up, I guess. A three-hit, ten-strikeout performance for Tommy Hanson.

Nationals 4, Pirates 2: Danny Espinosa had a two-run homer in the seventh to break the tie and give the Nats the win. The same Danny Espinosa who was hitting .193. Six straight losses for the Pirates, which makes it one of the few times in recent history when a comparison to the Yankees is apt.

Blue Jays 4, Tigers 2: Detroit finally loses one and Jose Bautista finally doesn’t hit a home run. Man, I don’t know what I can count on in this world anymore.

Marlins 2, Mets 1: A home run — and I mean a moon-shot — by Mike Stanton in the seventh tied it up at 1, the Mets failed to capitalize on a bases-loaded situation in the bottom of the ninth and then Burke Badenhop — really? The relief pitcher? — drove Stanton in on an RBI single in the 11th which proved to be the game-winner. Badenhop picked up the win too.

Rockies 7, Giants 4: The Giants had recently dominated the Rockies, but it was not Tim Lincecum’s night last night, as he walked six and gave up seven runs on nine hits. A three-run homer by Carlos Gonzalez sealed the awfulness for Timmy.

Brewers 2, Dodgers 1: L.A’s offense continues to be terrible. And it isn’t helped by stuff like Carlos Gomez robbing Juan Uribe of a homer with a great catch at the wall.

Mariners 5, Twins 2: Michael Pineda toyed with the Twins in a way that a rookie pitcher should never be allowed to toy with a major league lineup (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7K).

Athletics 5, Angels 4: Stellar 10th inning for Fernando Rodney: in the bottom of the inning, Kurt Suzuki drew a one-out walk, moved to second on another walk then took third on a wild pitch. Mark Ellis then hit an infield grounder to a five-man infield that was deep enough in the hole to score Suzuki.

Padres 8, Diamondbacks 4: If they’re not careful, the Padres hitters are gonna spoil their pitchers what with all of this run support they’ve been giving ’em.  Meanwhile, I’m not gonna say that Armando Galarraga — who got rocked — is worried about his job in the Dbacks’ rotation, but here was his response when asked a question about his purely hypothetical next start:

“What are you talking about the next start?” Galarraga said, glaring at the reporter. “Who you say I am going to be worried about my next start? Are you saying that I am going to lose my job? Are you trying to say that? I am frustrated about this start, not the next one.”

Careful, Armando! You can’t sell books about good sportsmanship and positive attitudes like that!

Noah Syndergaard: ‘I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency’

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Yankees starter Luis Severino and Phillies starter Aaron Nola both signed contract extensions within the last week. Severino agreed to a four-year, $40 million contract with a 2023 club option. Nola inked a four-year, $45 million deal with a 2023 club option.

While the deals both represented significant raises and longer-term financial security for the right-handed duo, some feel like the players are selling themselves short. It has become a more common practice for players to agree to these types of deals in part due to how stagnant free agency has become. Get the money while you can.

Mets starter Noah Syndergaard is in a similar situation as Severino and Nola were. He and the Mets avoided arbitration last month, agreeing on a $6 million salary for the 2019 season. He has two more years of arbitration eligibility left. A contract extension with the Mets would presumably cover both of those years plus two or three years of what would be free agent years. As Tim Britton of The Athletic reports, however, Syndergaard plans to test free agency when the time comes.

Syndergaard said, “I trust my ability and the talent that I have. So I feel like I’m going to bet (on) myself in free agency and not do what they did. But if it’s fair for both sides and they approach me on it, then maybe we can talk.” He clarified that he would be open to a conversation about an extension, but the Mets thus far haven’t approached him about it. In his words, “There’s been no traction.”

Syndergaard, 26, has been one of baseball’s better starters since debuting in 2015. He owns a career 2.93 ERA with 573 strikeouts and 116 walks in 518 1/3 innings. Among pitchers to have logged at least 400 innings since 2015 and post a lower ERA are Clayton Kershaw (2.22), Jacob deGrom (2.66) and Max Scherzer (2.71). Syndergaard made only seven starts in 2017 yet still ranks seventh among pitchers in total strikeouts since 2015.

If Sydergaard doesn’t end up signing an extension, he will be entering free agency after the 2021 season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in December 2021 and a new one will likely be agreed upon around that time. Syndergaard will hopefully have better prospects entering free agency then than players do now.