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.

Sandy Koufax to be honored with statue at Dodger Stadium

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Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.

Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.

Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.

Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign  on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.