And That Happened: SPECIAL BEN AFFLECK AS BATMAN EDITION

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Before the scores, some important Batman news. You may want to scroll down past this, because I’m gonna take a bit of time here.

In case you missed it last night, Ben Affleck has been cast as the Dark Knight in the upcoming Batman/Superman movie. Many people alerted me to this news last night the way you might alert a mother that her child has died. They tried to break it gently. They made sure that I was not in distress as I tried to process the news. When they saw me in a state less than tears, they assumed I was in the denial stage of the grieving process. It was quite the scene.

But while I thank my friends, real and virtual, for thinking of me and assuming that I would utterly lose it at the thought of Affleck as Batman, I’m really OK with it. Why? Because — and please brace yourself for some Real Talk — Christian Bale wasn’t anything extraordinary or irreplaceable as Batman. There, I said it.

“Batman Begins” was an incredible movie and, in it, Bale was fantastic. He played the young Bruce Wayne wonderfully and helped connect a, let’s admit it, somewhat silly character to us as viewers. It was real acting from a guy who is an incredible actor. “The Dark Knight” was an even better movie. Just perfect on almost every level. But Bale was nowhere near the best part of that movie. His growly voice as Batman may have been faithful to certain comic book interpretations and may have made sense in the “real world” version of Batman that Christopher Nolan was going for, but it was distracting. And his Bruce Wayne scenes, while fine, didn’t exactly require Oscar-level acting. You can almost see Bale getting a bit bored with the Wayne stuff at times. He’s above it.

“Dark Knight Rises” was a pretty bad movie. Let us not pretend it wasn’t. Some cool scenes and set pieces, but it was pretty weak. You may bristle at this — and, like a kid brother, I may defend it to outsiders who don’t understand that Batman is awesome overall — but among friends we need to be honest about the fact that it was a pile compared to the other two. And, I would argue, compared to the two Michael Keaton Batman movies in at least certain respects.

So: no, this isn’t like hiring Jack Lemmon to play Don Corleone in “Godfather Part II.” This isn’t like getting Robin Williams to play Hannibal Lecter in “Silence of the Lambs II: Electric Boogaloo.” Affleck has dark hair and a square jaw and as we saw in “Argo” he can play it straight and act like a real adult and not be some stereotypical Boston goon like we often consider him to be. He’ll be fine.

We survived Val Kilmer and George Clooney. We can survive Ben Affleck. End of rant.

[exhales, sits back, stares emptily into middle distance]

Dodgers 6, Marlins 0: Clayton Kershaw (8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER) is like Doctor Manhattan. So superior and gifted that the mortals bore and disappoint him. He’s likely considering going to another planet to find new challenges for himself. He didn’t even have his best stuff yesterday and no one could really touch him. It’s almost unfair.

Pirates 10, Giants 5: Quite the disaster for the Giants as Matt Cain left early after taking a comebacker off his right arm. Thankfully X-Rays were negative. The bullpen, sadly, was pretty negative for the Giants too. And while ten runs and a win was nice for the Pirates, they have to be worried about Jeff Locke, who is looking increasingly gassed and ineffective as the season winds down.

Reds 2, Diamondbacks 1: Four wild pitches for Arizona, a couple which set up the Reds run in the third and another that actually scored the winning run in the eighth. The Reds took three of four from the Dbacks, effectively burying them in the wild card race, one figures.

Yankees 5, Blue Jays 3: A lot of the people who think it’s a longshot for the Yankees to get back into the race and make the playoffs think this because the starting pitching has been so poopy lately. As such, seeing Andy Pettitte allow one run over six innings has to be, at the very least, encouraging. The Yanks have won five in a row and ten of twelve. A-Rod for MVP.

Twins 7, Tigers 6:  Chris Herrmann had a couple of RBI doubles, one of which was aided by Austin Jackson misplaying the ball. The Twins take two of three from Detroit.

Nationals 5, Cubs 4: Stephen Strasburg was one out from a complete game but then he ran out of gas and had some defensive miscues behind him allowing the Cubs to rally for three runs. Four innings later Denard Span doubled and some small ball scored him for the go-ahead and, ultimately, winning run.

White Sox 4, Royals 3: Chicago fought back from a three-run deficit to force extras and then Conor Gillaspie socked a homer in the 12th. Pretty sure that’s the first time I ever used the phrase “socked a homer” in my life. Weird.

Phillies 5, Rockies 4: Philly scored four of their five runs in the last two innings, capped with Domonic Brown’s walkoff single. Oh, remember yesterday when I suggested that a walkoff sac fly was the least exciting walkoff event? I’m now thinking a walkoff balk qualifies. By definition it requires the absolute bare minimum of movement to happen. Like, a simple flinch could make it happen. Would love to see a World Series end on a walkoff balk. Joe Buck would probably capture that moment for the ages.

Cardinals 6, Braves 2: Joe Kelly wasn’t sharp but he was effective. Jordan Schafer was 0 for 5 with two strikeouts leading off for Atlanta. The Braves are gonna miss Jason Heyward something fierce.

And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cardinals 7, Nationals 6: As you may have heard, Washington lost on a walkoff grand slam Sunday night. Last night things weren’t quite as dramatic, but they lost on a walkoff once again, this one via a solo homer delivered by Paul DeJong after some wild, see-sawing action on the final couple of innings. Washington’s bullpen has blown saves in three of its past four games. It’s almost as if, maybe, sending off two relievers a couple of weeks ago because the team thought they had attitude issues was not the wisest move. The Nationals have lost five of seven.The Cardinals have won six in a row.

Giants 5, Dodgers 2: Clayton Kershaw pitched his best game of the season, allowing one run on four hits, striking out nine and not walking a soul in eight innings of work. Didn’t matter, though, because, like the Nats relief corps, the Dodgers’ bullpen is a trash fire. Scott Alexander poured the, well, whatever accelerant one uses for a trash fire, by loading the bases with two singles and then hitting a batter with a pitch, after which Nick Hundley singled in two, Gorkys Hernandez knocked in a third and then Hundley scored on an error by Max Muncy at first. Muncy, by the way, had been put in the game that inning as a defensive replacement, so not only is the bullpen killing the Dodgers, but irony is too. In any event, that’s four straight blown saves for the Dodgers, who fall one game behind the first-place Diamondbacks.

Here’s the game in photo essay form. First, the Dodgers were all like:

(Getty Images)

Then they were like:

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Royals 3, Blue Jays 1: Brad Keller of the Royals gave up a homer to Devon Travis in the first inning but that’s the only run the Jays would score all night. Ryan O’Hearn provided all of the Royals’ runs with a two-run homer and by drawing a bases-loaded walk. The loss went to Sean Reid-Foley, who was making his big league debut for Toronto. How did it go, Sean?

“I couldn’t really feel my body because I was so nervous. I felt like my legs weren’t really working. That’s why a lot of my misses were way out of the zone. I was still nervous in the fifth. Every pitch, still nervous.”

Is that bad?

Braves 9, Marlins 1; Braves 6, Marlins 1: As we wrote yesterday, here and here, it was the Ronald Acuña show, with the Braves rookie hitting leadoff homers in both games of the twin bill. In game one Acuña finished 2-for-3 with two walks, a double, three RBI, and three runs scored along with the homer. In the nightcap he was 3-for-5 with the homer and two driven in. Acuña is the first player to hit leadoff home runs in both games of a doubleheader since the Orioles’ Brady Anderson did it on August 21, 1999 against the White Sox. He is the youngest to do it in the live ball era. He is only the fourth player to do it ever. Overall he has homered in four straight games. The Braves sweep of the doubleheader gives them a one game lead in the NL East over idle Philadelphia.

Athletics 7, Mariners 6: Oakland’s insane surge continues. They built up a 7-1 lead and almost frittered it away in the end, but it was only a partial-frittering, resulting in their tenth win in their last 12 games. Jed Lowrie drove in four and starter Sean Manaea pitched into the eighth inning, allowing two runs on five hits before the normally stout A’s bullpen did its best to blow it. Oakland extends its lead over the Mariners for the second Wild Card slot to two and a half games. They are now two behind the Astros for the division lead.

Mets 8, Yankees 5: Jacob deGrom added to his unconventional Cy Young case by striking out 12 Yankees batters in six and two-thirds while allowing only two earned runs. That moves him to 7-7, which is not exactly your typical Cy Young record, but in all other respects he’s basically the best in the NL this season. For the second straight outing he had a lot of help too, with eight runs backing him, aided by five Mets homers, with Amed Rosario Jose BautistaTodd FrazierBrandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto doing the honors.

Tigers 9, White Sox 5: Nicholas Castellanos had a career-high five hits and drove in five runs, including a go-ahead two-run homer in the seventh inning to power the Tigers to victory. It’s the second time he’s driven in five runs against the White Sox this year alone. Detroit is 9-1 against Chicago on the season. They really enjoy these matchups.

Indians 10, Reds 3: Cleveland rode a seven-run sixth inning to victory, with Yandy Diaz breaking a tie with an RBI double. Jose Ramirez hit his 35th homer, he, Michael Brantley and Yan Gomes had three hits apiece, and Melky Cabrera and Jason Kipnis each drove in two. It was Cleveland’s fifth win in six games. They likewise even-up their season record against the Reds at two wins a piece. With two games left, the Ohio Cup is up for grabs. Having lived in Ohio for over 25 years, I can tell you with reasonable certainty that the Ohio Cup is filled with “pahp.”

Rangers 5, Diamondbacks 3: Robinson Chirinos hit a three-run homer in the fourth and singled in a run in the eighth to help Bartolo Colon and the Rangers beat Zack Greinke and the Snakes. Colon walked one dude. It was his 22nd straight start with two or fewer walks, which sets a Rangers record. At 45 there aren’t a ton of things that Big Sexy does super well anymore, but not issuing free passes certainly is one of ’em, and that will get you pretty darn far in Major League Baseball.

Angels 6, Padres 3: Andrew Heaney and Clayton Richard basically matched one another’s performances in regulation, and the game was tied at two heading into extras. In the top of the tenth Kole Calhoun knocked in one with an RBI double, David Fletcher tapped in Shohei Ohtani with a squeeze bunt and then Justin Upon put an exclamation point on the rally with a two-run homer. Eric Hosmer hit a dinger in the Padres half of the tenth, but that’s all the home team would get. Hosmer almost hit a dinger earlier — an eighth inning blast that, had it gone out, would’ve prevented extras and given the Padres the game — but Upton played a part in that one too: