And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Pardon me if I seem discombobulated, but I’m suffering from weekend movie whiplash. On Friday night I saw “The Dark Knight Rises.” Yesterday I saw “Safety Not Guaranteed.” If you can find me two movies out right now that are more dissimilar in terms of tone, themes, budget and every other single other relevant measure, I’d like to know what they are.

Verdicts: “Dark Knight Rises” was really good, though I have to say that it was not as good as “The Dark Knight” due to Heath Ledger deficit disorder, obviously, and because there just weren’t any of those “OMFG BATMAN!” moments. You know what I’m talking about. Fine flick, but just not quite as satisfying as the last one, which is not a terrible surprise given how damn good the last one was.

As for “Safety Not Guaranteed”: one of the cutest movies I’ve seen in a long time. And there was a minor, insignificant point in which a character talks about how she used to be married to a ballplayer who, after being traded to Marlins, began to cheat on her, leading to their divorce. The movie was set in a little town near Seattle. I’m going to assume that it was a Mariners player who was traded to Miami. Anyone with any ideas about who this dog was, please note it in the comments. If it helps, the female character is probably in her mid-to-late 30s, and the player would now be around that age, I reckon.

Anyway, two home runs here in my opinion. Which, given what went down yesterday in baseball, is quite appropriate:

Athletics 5, Yankees 4: New York travels to Oakland and gets swept, with all of the games being decided by one run. But this one has to hurt more than your normal one-run loss given that the Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead.

Diamondbacks 8, Astros 2: Jason Kubel hit three homers on Saturday night and hit another one here. Overall he’s had six homers in five games. And boy howdy do the Astros stink. They’re 1-9 since the break.

Orioles 4, Indians 3: Just when I started writing off the O’s in every radio, TV and video outlet that would have me, they go and rip off five straight wins. The lesson, as always, is that I’m an idiot.

Tigers 6, White Sox 4: Just when I started talking up the Tigers as “a sleeping giant” in every radio, TV and video outlet that would have me, they go and rip off 13 of 15 and power their way into first place. The lesson, as always, is that I’m a genius. Oh, and let’s start the day’s theme here: Miguel Cabrera hit two homers to lead the Tigers past Chicago.

Twins 7, Royals 5: Ryan Doumit hit two homers to lead the Twins past Kansas City.

Nationals 9, Braves 2: Ryan Zimmerman hit two homers to lead the Nationals past Atlanta.

Phillies 4, Giants 3: John Mayberry Jr. hit two homers to lead the Phillies past San Francisco. Oh, and Nate Schierholtz hit two homers too, but they were not leadership quality, apparently, or else the Giants would have won, eh?

Thus endeth the two-homer hitters, by the way.

Cardinals 7, Cubs 0: A whuppin’ to be sure. But the Cubs still decided to have fun after the game. Jon Jay went 4 for 4 and drove in two and Lance Lynn tossed six shutout innings to win his 12th.

Pirates 3, Marlins 0: I did not write the Pirates off nearly as definitively as I wrote the Orioles off — I gave them a shot at least — but they have now won five in a row too. Pedro Alvarez his hit four homers in his last six games. Pittsburgh has won 21 of 25 at home.

Padres 3, Rockies 2: Carlos Quentin signed a contract extension and went out and put up an 0 for 4. It happens.

Mariners 2, Rays 1: Blake Beavan outdueld Matt Moore, allowing one run over eight without walking a soul. Idea: they should make pitchers in pitching duels actually duel. Like, Aaron Burr/Alexander Hamilton-style.

Blue Jays 15, Red Sox 7: The Jays beat up Jon Lester for 11 runs on nine hits — four of them homers — in four innings. I was gonna make some Bane/Batman analogy here, but not all of you have seen the movie yet because you’re just not real fans.

Reds 2, Brewers 1: The Pirates may be surging, but the Reds are holding them off just fine, winning eight of 10 on the home stand. Johnny Cueto struck out nine and allowed a run over seven innings, winning his 12th and lowering his ERA to 2.23.

Dodgers 8, Mets 3: Allowing, like, 3+ runs in a single extra inning is a special kind of demoralizing. Four wins in a row for LA, eight of nine dropped since the break for the Mets.

Angels 7, Rangers 4: Dan Haren came back and pitched the Angels to a series win. His return — and the stabilization of the rotation — will have an awful lot to do with the Angels’ prospects down the stretch.

Columnist bashes Bryce Harper’s fundamentals, “write it,” says Nats player

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Tom Boswell of the Washington Post wrote a column over the weekend about how the 2019 Nats are looking really, really good. And for the most part it’s a column that makes a lot of sense. The Nats added some key pieces this offseason and, because so much of their underachieving 2018 season was based on health, particularly in the bullpen, there is reason to be optimistic this coming year.

There is one weird passage in the middle of the column, though: a swipe at Bryce Harper, his fundamentals and his attitude. The upshot: Boswell is arguing that losing Harper to free agency is addition by subtraction:

Though few mention it, subtracting Harper, while it will cost 34 homers, a .899 career OPS and some amazing hair flips, would help any team improve its attention to fundamentals. When the most famous player on the team can’t go 10 days without failing to run out a groundball or overthrowing a cutoff man by 15 feet or throwing to the wrong base or being caught unprepared in the outfield or on the bases, it’s hard to demand total alertness from the other 24.

“Write it,” one prominent Nats vet said.

The “Write it” is what has me most fascinated.

It could possibly be read in two different ways. One way would be for that to be the non-committal reaction of a player when Boswell bounced his Harper-is-a-slacker theory. Saying, in effect, “you write that if that’s your take.” It seems far more likely to me though, that Boswell is echoing the off-the-record sentiments of Harper’s former Nats teammates and the “write it” is an encouraging plea to give public voice to that which the player has chosen not to.

If it is the latter, this would only be the latest of many anonymously-sourced disgruntled sentiments from the Nats clubhouse over the years. Former manager Matt Williams had a full-scare revolt on his hands that made it into the media. Last year Dave Martinez’s clubhouse had someone saying negative things to the press as well, and it was so bad that GM Mike Rizzo sent off a useful reliever — at a time when the Nats really, really needed a useful reliever — because he was the suspected source. If Boswell is giving voice to some anti-Harper sentiment in Nats camp, it’s just more soap opera from a bunch that, historically, can’t seem to handle their issues in-house.

As for the substance: I don’t watch Harper as much as Nats fans do — and I can’t say that I’ve ever heard anyone describe him as some sort of lazy slacker — but sure, there are players who are more fundamentally sound than him. It’s also the case, though, that Harper has always been judged more harshly for his deportment than a lot of players in the league, so I’m not prepared to totally defer to word of mouth — especially anonymous word-of-mouth — to someone slamming him on that stuff.

It’s still pretty interesting, though, that in an offseason in which the average fan’s take is that Manny Machado is the no-hustle slacker who should be avoided, that Machado’s former teammates have had no complaints about him, while Harper’s former teammates seem to have the knives out for him.