And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Dodgers 2, Braves 1: Ho-hum, complete game with nine strikeouts for Clayton Kershaw, who s now 13-2 with a 1.71 ERA. He needed to be sharp yesterday, though, as Julio Teheran allowed only two runs over eight. Yasiel Puig’s homer in the third proved to be the go-ahead run.

Diamondbacks 7, Pirates 4: Andy Marte — who I was surprised to see is still alive and walking the Earth and playing baseball and stuff — was called up from Reno yesterday and then broke a tie with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the sixth. Also: the dude is only 30. I have no idea how he is both living and not 48-years-old. I feel like someone ought to investigate this for identity theft or something. I am pretty sure that he was a Braves prospect back when they played in Boston, in fact.

Blue Jays 6, Astros 5: Nolan Reimold hit two home runs, including a tiebreaking solo shot in the ninth. Jose Bautista and Dioner Navarro hit bombs of their own.

Reds 3, Marlins 1: The Reds scored the tying run in the eighth inning on a sac fly thanks to a controversial plate-blocking call. Watch it here. I realize you can’t block the plate without the ball, but Jeff Mathis got the ball while Zack Cozart was, as far as I can tell, still back in biology class in middle school or something. It — along with Johnny Cueto striking out nine and allowing one run in seven innings — decided the game. More on this later this morning at HBT.

Phillies 10, Nationals 4: The Phillies had 17 his and put up a ten-spot, led by Grady Sizemore’s three his and three RBI. But there was bad news for the Phillies too, as Cliff Lee had to leave the game with an elbow injury. He hasn’t been good since he’s been back and now one has to wonders whether he’ll be back at all. On the bright side, this led to one of the more fun pitcher wins ever: Antonio Bastardo came in to relieve Lee in the third. He threw two pitches and was out of the inning. Then he got the W since he was the pitcher of record when the Phillies scored five in the top of the following inning.

Mariners 6, Indians 5: Mike Zunino’s two-run homer in the eighth inning gave ’em the win. Adding Austin Jackson and Chris Denorfia gave ’em hope. Good day for Seattle yesterday.

Angels 1 Orioles 0: Tyler Skaggs and six relievers combined on a five-hitter over thirteen innings. Unfortunately for Skaggs, the reason they needed six relievers is that he had to leave the game with forearm tightness in the fifth inning. Had a no-hitter going at the time too. Albert Pujols knocked in the game’s only run in the top of the 13th.

Cardinals 6, Padres 2: Not to be outdone by the Angels, Shelby Miller and three relievers combined on a three-hitter and Miller didn’t have to leave the game with an injury. Oscar Taveras hit a two-run homer.

Royals 6, Twins 3: Yet another game in which the win was overshadowed by an injury. This time Eric Hosmer who fractured his finger. Meanwhile, Alcides Escobar hit a two-run triple and Yordano Ventura allowed only one earned run over seven innings while striking out seven.

Cubs 3, Rockies 1: The Cubs take three of four in the battle of the basement-dwellers. Jake Arrieta struck out seven while allowing one run on three hits.

White Sox 7, Tigers 4: For Detroit the highlight of this game was Austin Jackson having to come out of the game in the middle of an at bat in the seventh inning after being traded to the Mariners in the David Price deal. Nice standing ovation from the crowd as he goes too. Meanwhile, the Tigers lost for the fifth time in six games so, um, yeah, get here soon, Mr. Price.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.