And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 6, Mets 5: And now St. Louis is a mere one and a half back. With games against the Mets, Cubs and Astros left. And when guys like David Freese drive in five runs, you’re entering team of destiny territory.

Marlins 4, Braves 0: Javy Vazquez is going to retire, he implies. If so, he’s going out in style. Stifling the Braves and helping them on their way to a near-historic collapse. That’s one he’ll always remember. Two hits for Atlanta. Two. Old Gator sent me an email late last night with pictures of anti-nausea medication and Advil. Please, Gator, next time just send some cyanide.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 4: Just another stunning loss for the Red Sox. Terry Francona after the game: ” “I’m not in a very good mood right now.”  Well, he shouldn’t be.  But at least this will cheer him up …

Yankees 4, Rays 2; Yankees 4, Rays 2: A game so nice they played it twice. Except the second game was way different, with Jorge Posada playing hero with a two-run tie-breaking single in the eighth. The first game clinched a playoff spot for New York, the second the AL East title. The Red Sox catch the hell for their collapse, but the Rays have simply failed to capitalize on it as best they can. As a result, there is now another team who might …

Angels 7, Blue Jays 2: Look who is also two and a half games back of Boston. Peter Bourjos had three hits including a homer and a triple. Vernon Wells hit a homer. Dan Haren had to leave when he was hit by a comebacker, but it was off his non-pitching hand and he should be good to go.

Diamondbacks 8, Pirates 5: Win number 90 for Arizona as they creep one more game closer to the NL West title. Miguel Montero was 3 for 4.

Giants 8, Dodgers 5: Not that the Giants are making it too easy. They aren’t going to catch Arizona, but they keep winning anyway. They’re 3. 5 back of Atlanta.

Cubs 7, Brewers 1: Matt Garza pitched a complete game, struck out 10 and didn’t allow any earned runs. It’s taking the Brewers longer than they thought to clinch this thing, but given that the magic number is at three, I don’t think there’s any reason to sweat here.

Nationals 7, Phillies 5: Five straight losses for the Phillies. Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos each hit two-run home runs. The Nats could theoretically still finish at .500. Much easier when you figure that they have three games against the Braves coming up.

Padres 4, Rockies 0: Colorado is limping to the finish line, losers of seven straight at home. Remember last spring when everyone thought that they were an attractive choice to win the west? Yeah, that was a long time ago.

Reds 2, Astros 0: Bronson Arroyo was one of the worst regular starters in all of baseball this season, but he looked pretty spiffy here. A six-hit shutout in which he only needed 91 pitches. Way to make him work, Astros.

Rangers 3, Athletics 2: Fun with round numbers: Ian Kinsler is the first second baseman in AL history to have 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 100 runs scored and 80 walks in the same season. Lou Whitaker probably would have done it once, but The Man wouldn’t let him. Texas’ magic number is three.

Mariners 5, Twins 4: Eleven straight losses for the Twins. For reasons that aren’t clear to me, I’m going to Cleveland tomorrow evening to watch them play the Indians. They may be the worst team I’ve intentionally watched live ever.

Tigers 6, Royals 3: Max Scherzer and Doug Fister each pitched so that Jim Leyland could arrange his rotation for the playoffs. I remember when my team thought about stuff like the playoffs. Sigh.

White Sox 8, Indians 4: Career win number 160 for Mark Buehrle. The White Sox draw dangerously close to passing Cleveland for second place! Which one day will sound way more impressive than it actually is.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.