And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 4, Brewers 0: John Lackey was fantastic, tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out eight. He’s also making $500K this year because of that farkakte contract he signed with the Red Sox way back when. St. Louis’ gain, I suppose. And if Lackey keeps pitching like this, his gain this coming offseason when he signs a new deal.

Twins 8, Royals 5: Kennys Vargas was better than Jason Vargas on this day. They’re not related but I sort of wish they were so that we could invent some crazy family backstory here, but alas. Anyway, Kennys and Kurt Suzuki each hit two-run homers as the Twins win again.

Nationals 5, Phillies 2: The Phillies can shuffle their lineup all they want — Howard batting seventh, Frenchy cleaning up — and it’s not going to matter much given that they don’t have any hitters who can do a dang thing against decent pitching this year. And here Doug Fister was more than decent, allowing two runs — only one of them earned — while pitching into the seventh. Cole Hamels have up five runs in six innings, but really, he and all other Phillies pitchers are going to have to be close to perfect this year.

Rays 4, Blue Jays 2: Chris Archer struck out 11 and allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings. Steven Souza did not hit a monstrous, 450-foot or so home run last night. I wonder what’s wrong with him?

Mets 7, Marlins 5: New York spotted the Marlins three runs — one of them on Giancarlo Stanton’s first dinger of the year —  but no worries. Lucas Duda had three hits. Wilmer Flores had a three-run shot. There was a replay challenge that lasted six minutes, so that was fun, but after the game Travis d’Arnaud admitted that the replay officials got it right.

Diamondbacks 7,  Giants 6: Aaron Hill hit a two-run double with two outs in the 12th to put the Snakes ahead. The Giants have lost seven straight.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?