And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 4, Athletics 3: The Angels take a two-game lead in the west, winning this on a sac fly in the tenth. The play of the game, however, came in the ninth when Erik Aybar chopped one down the first base line. Pitcher Dan Otero and first baseman Brandon Moss converged on the ball and all three of them, more or less, were in the same place at the same time. Otero had the ball and tagged Aybar, but the umpire awarded Aybar first base, claiming Moss obstructed Aybar. Which seems odd as it appears as though Aybar went out of the baseline — way onto the infield grass, actually — in an effort to avoid being tagged and was never really near Moss. I guess the idea is that Aybar could’ve ran where Moss was, as opposed to the infield grass, if he wasn’t there. The A’s are protesting, but I doubt it has a chance given that this is technically a judgment call. Watch the play and judge for yourself:

[mlbvideo id=”35760817″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Reds 7, Cubs 2: The Reds stole six bases, all in the first four innings, and built up an early 6-0 lead on the power of those steals, six hits and four walks. Dylan Axelrod pitched five scoreless innings, striking out eight.

Tigers 3, Yankees 2: Alex Avila knocked a walkoff RBI single with two outs to win it. The Tigers dodged a bullet in the top of the ninth when Brian McCann almost hit a homer but it hooked foul. Phil Coke then pumped fastballs by him to strike him out. Kyle Lobstein held the Yankees in check a day after David Price was beaten up like crazy. Because baseball makes sense like that.

Giants 4, Rockies 1: Yusmeiro Petit set a record: by retiring his first eight batters here he completed a string in which he had retired 46 straight batters. A record most of us didn’t see coming because six of Petit’s eight appearances in that stretch were relief appearances, but just because you didn’t toss a perfect game and then some doesn’t make it any less of a record. Overall Petit allowed one run on four hits in six innings, striking out nine.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: The O’s take three of four from the Rays and now have a seven-game lead in the East with 30 to play. J.J. Hardy put them ahead with a seventh-inning single and Steve Pearce hit a homer.

Braves 6, Mets 1: Mike Minor with a Baseball Bugs night: he hit an RBI single, doubled and scored and pitched seven innings of shutout ball before leaving in the eighth after surrendering just one run.

Indians 3, White Sox 2: Michael Bourn had three hits, two of them triples, and Carlos Carrasco allowed one run over six and two-thirds. The Tribe now heads to Kansas City for a big weekend series with the Royals. They’re four back in the wild card and five and a half back in the Central. This may be their last best chance to firmly insert themselves into the playoff picture.

Twins 11, Royals 5: Minnesota scored six times in the tenth inning, beating up Bruce Chen, who gave up five hits and walked two. Jordan Schafer — who I had no idea had wound up in Minnesota — drove in four for the Twins.

Astros 4, Rangers 2: Jason Castro hit a grand slam in the fifth to account for all of Houston’s runs. How do you account for runs anyway? Is it a LIFO or FIFO thing? That’s basically the extent of my accounting knowledge, by the way. Like, if I was asked to infiltrate a devious accountant’s cell and they held me at gunpoint, suspecting that I was a spy, my only material would be some LIFO/FIFO comment. After that, I’d probably be found floating in the Danube or something. Tough world out there.

La Russa steps down as White Sox manager over heart issue

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CHICAGO — Tony La Russa stepped down as manager of the Chicago White Sox on Monday because of a heart issue, ending a disappointing two-year run in the same spot where the Hall of Famer got his first job as a big league skipper.

La Russa, a three-time World Series champion who turns 78 on Tuesday, missed the final 34 games with the underachieving White Sox. He left the team on Aug. 30 and doctors ultimately told him to stay out of the dugout.

La Russa has a pacemaker implanted in February and doctors later found another heart problem that he has not detailed.

“It has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023,” he said in a statement. “The timing of this announcement now enables the front office to include filling the manager position with their other offseason priorities.”

Chicago began the season with World Series aspirations but was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. It was 79-80 heading into Monday night’s game against Minnesota.

“Our team’s record this season is the final reality. It is an unacceptable disappointment. There were some pluses, but too many minuses,” La Russa said. “I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job.”

Bench coach Miguel Cairo took over after La Russa stepped away. The White Sox showed a spark right after the change, winning 10 of 14. But they dropped eight straight in late September, dashing their playoff hopes.

La Russa, who is close friends with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, was a surprise hire in October 2020, and he directed the team to the AL Central title last year.

But the White Sox sputtered throughout much of 2022, and there were chants of “Fire Tony! Fire Tony!” at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“At no time have I been disappointed or upset with White Sox fans, including those who at times chanted `Fire Tony,”‘ La Russa said. “They come to games with passion for our team and a strong desire to win. Loud and excited when we win, they rightly are upset when we play poorly.”

All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and sluggers Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed significant time because of injuries. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoan Moncada also had health issues, and they underperformed when they were on the field.

There were embarrassing breakdowns, too, like when the White Sox ran themselves into the first 8-5 triple play in major league history during a loss to Minnesota on July 4.

La Russa continued to be a lightning rod for fans who weren’t thrilled with his hiring in the first place. His lineups came under question as did his decisions in games.

Some fans chanted for La Russa’s dismissal following a strange call for an intentional walk to to the Dodgers’ Trea Turner despite a 1-2 count on June 9. Bennett Sousa had just bounced an 0-2 slider, allowing the runner to advance from first to second.

With the base open, La Russa chose to walk Turner even though there were two strikes. It backfired when Max Muncy smacked a three-run homer, propelling Los Angeles to an 11-9 victory.

Another moment that raised eyebrows happened early in the 2021 season.

During a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati, La Russa was unaware of a rule that would have allowed him to use Jose Abreu as the automatic runner at second base rather than closer Liam Hendriks in the 10th inning.

With a 2,900-2,514 record over 35 years with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, La Russa trails only Connie Mack on baseball’s career wins list. He moved past John McGraw last season.

But there were big questions about whether La Russa was the right person for the job when the White Sox hired him to replace Rick Renteria. He hadn’t filled out a lineup card since 2011, when St. Louis beat Texas in the World Series. There were doubts about how someone known more for his scowl than smile would mesh with a fun-loving team that had just delivered the White Sox’s first playoff appearance since 2008.

Then, shortly after his hiring, news surfaced of an arrest on misdemeanor DUI charges.

La Russa blew out a tire on the Lexus he was driving in a collision with a curb that February in Arizona, after going to dinner with friends. The case was filed on Oct. 28, one day before the White Sox announced La Russa’s hiring.

He ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to one day of home detention, a fine of nearly $1,400 and 20 hours of community service.

La Russa also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007 after police found him asleep and smelling of alcohol inside his running sport-utility vehicle at a stoplight.

La Russa captured championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. The former big league infielder and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win the World Series in the American and National leagues.

He got his first major league managing job at age 34 when the White Sox promoted him from Triple-A to replace the fired Don Kessinger during the 1979 season. He took over that August and led them to a 522-510 record over parts of eight seasons.

The 1983 team won 99 games on the way to the AL West championship – Chicago’s first playoff appearance since the 1959 Go-Go White Sox won the pennant. But La Russa was fired in 1986 by then-general manager Ken Harrelson after the White Sox got off to a 26-38 start, a move Reinsdorf long regretted.