And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Pirates 6, Cardinals 3: Erik Bedard struck out 11 men in five innings. At one point he fanned seven in a row. Overall, Pirates pitchers struck out 17 Cardinals. Pedro Alvarez went 2 for 4 with a homer. Two weeks ago he was hitting .074. Now he’s at .257 and he’s slugging over .600 on the year.

Marlins 3, Giants 2: The sweep for Miami. Pretty disastrous series for the Giants too, what with losing Sandoval and all. Not that this is anything new: As my friend Wendy Thurm put it yesterday: “2 years in a row, Marlins come to SF in May, Giants roll over dead and their best hitter gets really hurt.”

Rays 4, Mariners 3: The Rays sweep, win their 11th of 12 and now sit at 18-8, the top of the baseball world. The Mariners: a six game losing streak.

Reds 4, Cubs 3: Hit this one up yesterday. Note: Closers who implode but don’t, by virtue of a just-in-time-hook,  give up that one last hit that allows the tying run to score aren’t officially given a blown save.  They need one, so let’s call such outings “Marmols,” shall we?

Phillies 4, Braves 0: I hit this one up yesterday too. Really, I don’t mean to belittle Joe Blanton’s three-hit shutout, but the fact is that you can’t throw an 88-pitch shutout unless you’re (a) Greg Maddux; or (b) you have some help from some mailed-in at bats from the opposition. I’ve been watching the Braves for 27 years. They are NOTORIOUS getaway day sandbaggers. I don’t think they really mean to. It’s just in the team’s friggin’ DNA.

Nationals 2, Diamondbacks 1: Ross Detwiler keeps up his good work, allowing one run over six and a third and sending his ERA down even farther below 2.00. Bryce Harper hit another double, driving in the game-winning run.  The Nats are slowly but surely pulling out of their brief funk and now get a chance to face the Phillies over the weekend and see if they can truly lay a claim on the NL East.

Indians 7, White Sox 5:  Jason Kipnis hit a triple, a homer and drove in four. Justin Masterson gets his first win of the year.

Royals 4, Yankees 3: Danny Duffy pitches well, Mike Moustakas drives in three. Jeter, by the way, went 4 for 5 and is hitting .404 on the year. But really, it’s not like anything in this game matters as much as the Rivera news. Damn.

Blue Jays 5, Angels 0: Like Joe Blanton, Brandon Morrow threw a three-hit shutout. Took him 102 pitches, not 88. I think that means something. Maybe I’m wrong.

Kendrys Morales pitched a scoreless inning Sunday

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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Nothing went right for the Blue Jays this weekend. The club was swept in a four-game series against the Athletics, including a 9-2 loss on Sunday. Not wanting to burn out his bullpen in a lopsided game — and perhaps thinking about the general entertainment value involved — Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to send designated hitter Kendrys Morales out to pitch the ninth inning. And in typical baseball fashion, he saw better results than some of the dudes who do this all the time.

Morales, who actually pitched in Cuba nearly 20 years ago, worked around a walk for a scoreless inning. He induced three fly outs and topped out at 87.4 mph on his fastball, per Brooks Baseball. He received a standing ovation on the way back to the dugout. Morales hasn’t been hearing that sort of thing for his contributions with the bat recently.

Morales, 34, is batting just .163/.248/.279 with three home runs through 32 games this season. There’s been some understandable clamoring for top prospect Vladmir Guerrero, Jr. to cut into his at-bats. For his part, Morales has been doing everything he can to break out of his slumber at the plate, including ditching the glasses he started wearing during spring training. Hey, whatever works. Morales also had two of Toronto’s four hits on Sunday.

On the heels of Morales’ first MLB appearance on the mound, it feels rather appropriate that the Blue Jays will get their first look at Angels sensation Shohei Ohtani — at least as a hitter — beginning on Tuesday.