And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 5, White Sox 3: Zach Britton strikes out ten, gets sent down to the minors. That’s fair. That aside, heady freakin’ times for the Orioles who, apart from the Yankees fans, I think everyone on the planet is wanting to sweep New York and make the AL East a dead heat by Sunday night. Viva chaos.

Cubs 12, Brewers 11: Jonathan Lucroy drove in seven runs for Milwaukee — his second seven-RBI game of the season — but the Cubs still won. Total bullpen meltdown, capped with a K-Rod blown save on a day when Axford was unavailable. I was shocked to see that driving in seven in a losing cause is not terribly uncommon. Indeed, he was the fourth player in the past five years to do it, joining immortals like Jose Guillen.

Mariners 5, Twins 4:  Look at the Mariners go. They’re not gonna finish at .500. They’re certainly not gonna make the playoffs. But they’ve played respectable baseball all year and are finishing strong. If you’re not gonna win, at least be respectable and competitive every night out, and that’s what Seattle is doing.

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Hustlegate. I can’t think of a former MVP who has found himself at this place in his career like Rollins has, but that’s where he is. I don’t even know what to think about it. Except that I think there are 20 teams and maybe more who would love to have a non-hustling Jimmy Rollins as their shortstop.

Athletics 12, Indians 7: The AP gamer referred to the Indians as “free falling.” I think that’s an insult to parachutists, who at least have a plan about where they’re heading. The A’s continue to lead the AL wild card race.

Blue Jays 2, Rays 0: A two run double in the first was all Toronto needed as they had Carlos Villanueava pitch six shutout innings with three innings of blanks from the bullpen.

Nationals 8, Cardinals 1: For a team whose calling card has been offense all season, the Cardinals’ recent offensive drought has to be somewhat concerning, no? They went 28 innings without scoring a run before the eighth inning of this one, and that came after everything was more or less decided. Another homer for Bryce Harper and ten strikeouts over eight shutout innings from Edwin Jackson.

Royals 2, Tigers 1: Now it’s three things that would-be playoff teams don’t do: Lose Justin Verlander starts, lost to Bruce Chen and lose to Jeremy Guthrie. Basically, you can’t get the tar knocked out of you by the Kansas City Royals is what I’m saying.  I don’t think I’m declaring the Tigers dead yet, but the patient is in dire shape.

Giants 8, Astros 4: Bad luck and worse luck, all on one play — and a late collapse blowing a 4-0 lead — pretty much sums up the 2012 Astros.

Angels 5, Red Sox 2: Boston goes 0 for 2012 against the Angels. The AP gamer described Zack Greinke as “unintimidating but effective” in this one. I plan on filing a lawsuit later today because that was the working title of my autobiography.

Diamondbacks 2, Dodgers 0: Kennedy pitched shutout, two-hit ball for six and a third. Chris Young hit a two-run homer. The Dbacks take their seventh straight from the Dodgers. If L.A. falls short this year, not beating the Dbacks as much as they should will be a good reason.

There was another miscommunication between the Phillies and Pat Neshek

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Back in June 2017, then-manager of the Phillies Pete Mackanin and reliever Pat Neshek had some miscommunication. In a series against the Cardinals, Neshek worked a five-pitch eighth inning and it was believed he would come back out for the ninth inning, but he never did. Mackanin said Neshek said he didn’t want to pitch another inning. Neshek said he was never asked. There was also some miscommunication the game prior. Neshek thought he had the day off; Mackanin said Neshek said he wasn’t available to pitch.

Mackanin is no longer the Phillies’ manager, but the miscommunication between Neshek and the team apparently persist. Neshek was notably absent during the Phillies’ hard-fought 5-4 win over the Cubs on Monday night. The game featured a struggling Seranthony Domínguez pitching two innings, yielding three crucial runs in his second inning of work.

Manager Gabe Kapler called the bullpen and instructed Neshek to begin warming up to prepare to face Albert Almora, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Kapler rang the bullpen after Domínguez walked Jason Heyward, who batted ahead of Almora. Neshek wasn’t warmed up yet. Domínguez was able to retire Almora on a sacrifice bunt, which was reviewed and gave Neshek some extra time to get ready. He was ready for the next batter, Daniel Descalso, but at this point Kapler no longer wanted to bring Neshek into the game. Descalso lined a triple to left-center field, scoring two runs and came home himself when shortstop Jean Segura‘s throw caromed off of his foot out of play.

Recounting the situation, Neshek said, “I got on the mound and threw two pitches. [Kapler] said, ‘Is he ready?’ And I said, ‘No. I’m not ready yet. I’ve thrown two pitches.” Neshek was asked how long it takes him to get ready. The veteran said, “A minute. Not 20 seconds. I’m, like, the best in the league at getting ready. My whole career has been coming in like that.”

The Phillies were able to eke out a 5-4 win. Had they lost the game, Kapler and Neshek would likely have been under the microscope for the awkward situation leading to a crushing defeat. Kapler drew plenty of criticism over his bullpen management last year in his rookie managerial season. That included bringing in lefty reliever Hoby Milner into a game in which he hadn’t yet warmed up.

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the manager who struggled with bullpen management last year nearly mucked up a win last night, and maybe it’s just a coincidence that a reliever who’s had prior issues with communication had another communication mix-up. Maybe it’s not. It’s worth noting that the Phillies needed three innings from the bullpen to protect a 2-1 lead over the Cubs on Tuesday. Kapler called on rookie Edgar Garcia for two outs, lefty José Álvarez for four, and then brought in Juan Nicasio to close things out in the ninth. No Neshek, even as Nicasio got into trouble. Nicasio would surrender the tying and go-ahead runs, resulting in a deflating 3-2 loss.