And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Indians 8, Rays 1: So close to a no-hitter for Carlos Carrasco, but not quite. And maybe it was inevitable given his pitch count, which was up over 100 to begin the ninth inning, which happens when you strike out as many guys as he did (13 by the time he was pulled). In the ninth he walked Asdrubal Cabrera and then plunked Brandon Guyer before a fielder’s choice and a strikeout. Then Joey Butler singled on Carrasco’s 124th and final pitch of the game. Still a great start for the guy and crazy-dominant given how many swings and misses he generated by Rays hitters: 30, which is a BIG number. Who knows, maybe this is a look ahead to a great second half in 2015 like he had in 2014.

 

Reds 2, Twins 1: Johnny Cueto gave the Twins nothing to work with, holding them to one run over eight innings while striking out eight. Given the schedule and the All-Star break, there is a chance this was the last home start for Cueto as a Red. If so, he left the hometown folks happy.

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 2: Yesterday everyone made jokes about how Bobby Bonilla is still being paid by the Mets for doing nothing. Maybe the bigger scandal is that the Red Sox are paying Rick Porcello for this. The Jays teed off on him — Justin Smoak hit two homers — and now Porcello has given up 16 homers on the year. This from a sinkerballer who is supposed to leave things on the ground. Mercy. And Happy Canada Day!

Athletics 4, Rockies 1: Remember the other day when Billy Butler fell a triple short of the cycle and I made some joke about how he’d die on the base paths if he had tried to leg out a triple? Well, Billy Butler hit a triple. To be fair, the only reason he could do it was because the outfielder crashed into the wall and hurt himself, leaving the ball to roll around forever. Still: box score says it’s a triple, so it’s a triple. The fifth of his career. I assume the previous four also involved injured and incapacitated fielders. Watch:

 

Mariners 7, Padres 0: Taijuan Walker shut the Pads out on one hit over six innings and the bullpen did the rest, allowing only two more hits the rest of the way. Robinson Cano doubled, homered an drove in three, proving that he may not, in fact, be in a coma. The second shutout in a row for the M’s over the Padres.

Yankees 3, Angels 1: An inefficient start for Nate Eovaldi pitch count-wise, but a good one results-wise, as he shut the Angels out into the sixth inning. Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius each hit RBI singles. I watched the first couple of innings of this game in a bar. Early on Alex Rodriguez came up and singled. A guy down the bar from me said, with disgust “guy gets caught with his hands in the cookie jar and he’s still here.” I turned to him and said “you know he missed a year and lost over $20 million in salary, right?” The guy, still digusted and unimpressed said “Yet here he is!” I guess nothing short of a literal execution would be enough for some people. In other news, don’t tell me that sports columnists and talk radio dudes don’t have influence.

Orioles 4, Rangers 2: Wei-Yin Chen mostly tamed the Rangers boomsticks and JJ Hardy hit a tie-breaking two-run homer in the seventh. Oh, and this happened:

 

Brewers 9, Phillies 5: Adam Lind homered and Scooter Gennett doubled twice, tripled and drove in three runs. The Phillies will certainly cure what ails ya.

Pirates 9, Tigers 3: Neil Walker drove in the go-ahead run in the 14-inning on Tuesday night and then, comes into this game and hits two homers among his four hits overall. Alfredo Simon, who started for the Tigers, gave up 15 hits in five and two-thirds innings. Which is a lot of dang hits to give up. He’s lucky he only allowed six runs.

Braves 4, Nationals 1: The Braves beat the franchise that is now the Nationals for the first time since Rusty Staub played for ’em. At least that’s what it feels like. A.J. Pierzynski and Juan Uribe, who I have come to think of as colorful mercenaries on a team that is otherwise not that fun to watch, hit back-to-back homers in the fourth. Rookie Matt Wisler — one of the young guys who are actually likely to be part of the next winning Braves team — only allowed one hit and no runs in five and a third, atoning for his start against the Nats last week which was . . . not as good.

Cubs 2, Mets 0: Mets pitchers have allowed three runs in two games and the Mets have lost both games because their offense is basically chipped beef on toast. Everyone was scoreless until the 11th in this one, when the Cubs scratched across two runs on singles. Both Jon Lester and Bartolo Colon shut the opposition out for seven innings and deserved better fates in this one. Mets pitchers always deserve better fates.

Marlins 6, Giants 5: There are walkoff homers and then there are three-run homers when your team is down two. That’s the kind Justin Bour smacked to win the game for Miami. The Giants turned five double plays in this one to keep that lead late, but it wasn’t enough.

Astros 6, Royals 5: The sweep, as Jose Altuve had three hits and scored the tiebreaking run, Chris Carter and Marwin Gonzalez hit solo homers and Evan Gattis drove in two. Bad news, though: George Springer was plunked on the wrist and may be missing some serious time. Updates on this when we hear them.

White S0x 7, Cardinals 1: Jose Quintana allowed one run over six. Effin’ Quintana, man. That creep can roll. A five-run ninth turned this one into a laugher, though. St. Louis had a six-game winning streak heading into this series but were limited to one run in both games.

Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3: With Joc Pederson out Kike Hernandez got the start. All he did was triple, double, scored twice and drive in a run. The Dodgers have taken nine of ten from the Dbacks. Both Arizona and Atlanta should get together and have a discussion of what a “rival” is.

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.