And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Phillies 5, Marlins 3: The Phillies had and blew chances to score in the 10th, 11th and 12th innings. In the 13th, Jimmy Rollins singled and Chase Utley deposited a Chris Hatcher pitch into the right field seats. Also impressive: the Phillies’ pen, which combined to pitch seven scoreless innings of three-hit relief in this game. The guys who did it? Goldust, Eddie Guerrero, Diamond Dallas Page, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair and Jake the Snake Roberts.

Astros 6, Braves 1: The Astros salvage one on the strength of Matt Dominguez and George Springer homers. That’s 15 homers in 61 games played for Springer.

Pirates 5, Mets 2: Speaking of awesome rookies, Gregory Polanco homered and drove in four runs. His heroism also prevented me from having to talk about a matchup between Vance Worley and Daisuke Matsuzaka, which may rank near the bottom of the “matchups I’d be excited about if I bought tickets to this game” index.

Angels 6, Twins 4: No one is hotter than the Angels right now. They won their sixth straight as Trout and Pujols combined to go 5 for 8 with four RBI and Jered Weaver allowed one run over seven.

Tigers 6, Rangers 0: Wait, I take that back. The Tigers are hotter than the Angels as they’ve won seven in a row. Rick Porcello got his first career shutout allowing three hits and striking out six. This time last week the Tigers found themselves behind the Royals. Now they’re four and a half games up in first place.

Cubs 5, Nationals 3: Justin Ruggiano went 2 for 4 with a two-run double in the seventh to give the Cubs the final lead of the game. Starlin Castro had two RBI and Anthony Rizzo went 3 for 4 with two doubles.

Editor’s Note: Hardball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $40,000 Fantasy Baseball league for Friday night’s MLB games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $6,000. Starts at 7:05pm ET on FridayHere’s the FanDuel link.

Blue Jays 7, White Sox 0: Adam Lind had three hits and three RBI and J.A. Happ had his best start of the season, tossing seven and two-thirds shutout innings.

Brewers 7, Rockies 4: Not a bad second base combo they got in Milwaukee. Scooter Gennett has been on fire lately, but he sat in place of Rickie Weeks against a lefty. All Weeks did was hit a home run on the first pitch he saw and added a single and a double. Oh, and Gennett pinch hit in the eighth and hit a two-run homer.

Dodgers 1, Cardinals 0: Adam Wainwright and Josh Beckett matched zeroes for seven and a half innings, but the Dodgers managed to string together three singles in the eighth for the game’s only run. note: a game started by Josh Beckett lasted only two hours and thirty-two minutes.

Reds 3, Giants 1: Mike Leake struck out 12 batters over eight one-run innings. Brandon Phillips had three hits, including a home run and double, and scored twice. The Giants lead over the Dodgers in the West has shrunk to two games.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
Bernstein Associates/Getty Images
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.