And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

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Braves 2, Marlins 0: Justin Upton went 4 for 4 including another homer. At this point it’s getting so ridiculous that I feel like any more grit/lazy jokes are just gratuitous and cruel to Diamondbacks fans who may soon begin wondering why, again, it was so necessary to trade a stud slugger, still only 25, and signed to a team-friendly contract. In other news, announced attendance for the Marlins’ home opener was 34,439. Many were disguised as empty seats. Many other were there because Marlins tickets are going for roughly the price of a Zimbabwean dollar in late 2009.

Rangers 5, Rays 4: The last strike of the game from Joe Nathan should have been ball four to Ben Zobrist, which would have put the tying run on second with Evan Longoria up at the plate. But it … wasn’t. Even if we do get replay and robot umps and everything else sometime soon, I’m guessing balls and strikes won’t be part of that for decades if ever, so there’s no sense screaming for robot umps. But boy howdy, Marty Foster made a lousy call on that one.

Reds 13, Cardinals 4: Tied in the ninth and then the Reds blitz the redbirds for nine runs. Gonna go out on a limb and say that Mitchell Boggs didn’t exactly solidify his role with this outing. Some of The Best Fans in Baseball didn’t much care for it either.

Brewers 7, Cubs 4: The wind was blowing out at about a gajillion miles per hour, but only one homer was hit all game and that came from the losing team. Beyond that Wellington Castillo shot, Marco Estrada kept the ball down and pitched seven effective innings. Edwin Jackson surrendered a four-spot in the first and after that it wasn’t too entertaining.  Norichika Aoki had four hits — dude is on fire right now — and Ryan Braun returned to the lineup and went 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Royals 3, Twins 1: Ervin Santana pitched eight strong, striking out seven, walking only one and scattering singles. Kevin Correia pitched seven great innings but, unfortunately, was sent out for the eighth.

Yankees 11, Indians 6: Travis Hafner made a triumphant return to Cleveland and Robinson Cano launched two homers, doubled walked and scored four runs. Nice way to shake off a season-opening slump.

Red Sox 3, Orioles 1: Clay Buchholz gives the Sox another great start and Daniel Nava builds his legend. And while the storylines have been nice, it’s been the pitching and defense getting it done.

Mets 7, Phillies 2: There’s no escaping it: the Phillies are in full-blown Roy Halladay crisis mode now, as he was roughed up again (4 IP, 6 H, 7 ER).  Matt Harvey, meanwhile, was dominant once again (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 9K). You gotta wonder if the Phils are gonna consider shutting Doc down.

Giants 4, Rockies 2: The Giants’ seventh straight win against the Rockies, helped by a Hunter Pence three-run bomb. This was the Giants first home game without some sort of pregame awards ceremony or celebration. ‘Spose we can get on with 2013 now?

Pirates 5, Diamondbacks 3: Pittsburgh ends its losing streak at five. Two RBI each for Andrew McCutchen and Travis Snider. The Cubs, Pirates and Brewers are all deadlocked at 2-5 in the race for the NL Central cellar. Exciting!

Mariners 3, Astros 0: It’s almost like all of those spring training home runs the Astros hit weren’t indicative of the team’s overall quality. Joe Saunders and three relievers combined for a seven-hit shutout.

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.