And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Astros 3, Mariners 2: Jose Altuve hit a walkoff single in the tenth inning, lifting the Astros to their seventh straight win. Altuve was up, by the way, because Lloyd McLendon decided to walk Colby Rasmus to get to Altuve with a man on second. I suppose that whole set-up-the-double-play thing has been on page 16 of the Managerial Handbook for 100 year, but I feel like “Don’t Pass Up a Much Easier Hitter To Get To The Reigning American League Batting Champion” is on page 13 or 14. In any event, I’d rather go after Rasmus, hope to get him out and then be able to be carful with Altuve, but I’m just some schmo in my armchair. Oh well. The Astros’ 15-7 record and .681 winning percentage represents their best April in 29 years.

Cardinals 9, Phillies 3: After a slow start to the year the Cards’ offense is now clicking. Some may choose to believe that adjusting the batting order, dropping Matt Carpenter down from the leadoff spot and stuff is what has done the trick. I prefer the Occam’s Razor=friendly explanation which has only one variable, with that being “the Phillies have been in town.” As it was, Carpenter doubled, singled and walked twice. Matt Adams had three hits, including a two-run homer, and drove in three.

Twins 12, White Sox 2: In basketball, the big star is almost always going to have a good game, even if the team comes up flat. In football, teams can be out of synch — quarterbacks and receivers not on the same page or the game plan disrupted by a superior defense — but it’s not like the quarterbacks forget how to throw or the receivers forget how to run routs. In baseball, though? Dang, sometimes even the best players show up to the park and simply don’t have it. Like Chris Sale last night. He’s one of the best in the game but, sometimes, you just don’t have anything and one of the worst teams in the game beat you around like the Twins did last night. But, in baseball, you also don’t get a week’s worth of thinkpieces about it. No one talks about benching Sale or questions his skills. We just say “huh, I’ll be damned,” shrug our shoulders and forget it the next day, his inflated ERA the only real reminder of that shellacking. It’s part of what I love about baseball. Here, as in life, you’re best not to dwell on a bad day. And most of the time we don’t.

Angels 6, Athletics 5: Kole Calhoun drove in three, but this catch from Mike Trout with the bases loaded and two out in the ninth is what everyone was talking about:

[mlbvideo id=”95926683″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Watch the second time they show the play on video — the one with the wide shot showing Trout’s positioning before the ball hit off the bat — and note how immediately that dude breaks back once you hear the crack. Just outstanding instincts and a quick-as-all-get-out read.

Blue Jays 5, Indians 1: The Jays plated five in the fourth with some walks, singles and doubles strung together. Which for them anyway is small ball. Blue Jays starter Daniel Norris threw 78 pitches in three innings without allowing a run somehow. That’s quite a trick. Normally that would spell disaster, but the Jays’ pen — Jeff Francis, Roberto Ozuna, Aaron Loup and Brett Cecil — allowed only one run over six.

Reds 5, Braves 1: Mike Leake tossed eight shutout innings and hit a homer to [all together now] help his own cause. Todd Frazier, Tucker Barnhart and Billy Hamilton all had solo homers, helping Leake’s own cause as well. And their own, because there is no “i” in “own cause.”

Nationals 8, Mets 2: Remember way, way back at the beginning of the season when the Mets couldn’t lose and the Nationals couldn’t win and we were talking about how great it was for New York and how crappy and underachieving Washington was? Nah, me neither. The Mets have dropped five of seven since their big winning streak. The Nats have notched three wins in a row. Bryce Harper hit two doubles and drove in three.

Royals 8, Tigers 1: Danny Duffy put up goose eggs into the eighth inning and Royals’ bats were not fooled by Alfredo Simon. Eric Hosmer homered for the second straight day. The Royals finish April 15-7 and a half game up on Tigers in the Central.

Braves sign Marcell Ozuna to one-year, $18 million deal

Marcell Ozuna
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The Braves have announced on Tuesday evening the signing of free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that it’s a one-year contract for $18 million.

Ozuna, 29, hit .241/.328/.472 with 29 home runs, 89 RBI, 80 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 549 plate appearances for the Cardinals last season. He’s been consistently above-average in each of the past four seasons, which also included a career year in 2017 in which he was worth 6.1 WAR, per Baseball Reference.

It is surprising that Ozuna, a two-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner, had to settle for a one-year deal. The Braves are happy he did as he will help make up for some of the offense lost when third baseman Josh Donaldson became a free agent and ultimately signed with the Twins. Ozuna can become a free agent again after the 2020 season but won’t have qualifying offer compensation attached to him, part of the reason why his market may have been slow to develop.

Along with Ozuna, the Braves have signed in free agency this offseason reliever Will Smith, starter Cole Hamels, and catcher Travis d'Arnaud. They re-signed relievers Chris Martin and Darren O'Day, catcher Tyler Flowers, infielder Adeiny Hechavarría, and outfielder Nick Markakis.