And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Mariners 3, Orioles 0: Hisashi Iwakuma with the no-no. He walked three and struck out seven. It’s been a not-great year for both Iwakuma and the M’s, but this will at least give them something to put on the highlight reel. You’ve probably seen the final out highlight a few times since yesterday, but don’t sleep on Kyle Seager’s sweet catch in foul territory in the ninth to keep things going:

[mlbvideo id=”361029283″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Mets 3, Rockies 0: Midseason additions Juan Uribe and Yoenis Cespedes each knock in a run, Cespedes on a homer, and Jacob deGrom continues to be ridiculous, striking out 10 in seven innings. Question: did the Rockies even bring their bats to New York?

Indians 2, Yankees 1: The Yankees; offensive struggles continue, this time managing only one run against Danny Salazar and the Tribe. And with that New York falls out of first place in the AL East. Maybe, like the Nationals, they have a veteran on the team who thinks it’s actually better to be in second place. I sort of doubt it, but I didn’t think such a beast existed before yesterday, so who knows?

Blue Jays 10, Athletics 3: Ten straight wins for Toronto and that puts them in first place. Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak, each castoffs from other teams, went deep with three-run shots. Josh Donaldson, who the A’s figured would be cool to trade away, knocked in two more runs giving him 85 on the year. And R.A. Dickey pitched well, giving the Jays their sixteenth straight game in which their starter has allowed three or fewer earned runs. They have one more this afternoon against the A’s and then weekend they face the Yankees in Toronto. It’s gonna be nuts.

Marlins 14, Red Sox 6: The Fish put up a ten-run sixth inning during which rookie J.T. Realmuto drove in five all by himself. He drove in six runs overall on the day. All this from a guy whose name sounds like something a kid make up on the spot when caught by a security guard with a spray paint can or something.

“Hey, you! Put that can down! What’s your name, kid?”

“It’s um . . . J.T. . . uhhh . . .Re . . .al . . .muto.”

“No, wait a minute. I know your parents. You’re Beth and Ryan Hogard’s son. That’s it, I’m calling your father!”

“Aw, man.”

Meanwhile, David Ortiz hit two homers in a winning effort in a losing cause.

Astros 2, Giants 0: Five pitchers, led by Scott Feldman, combine to toss a five-hit shutout for the Astros. Chris Heston allowed a homer to Colby Rasmus but otherwise pitched well. Ya need help, though.

Phillies 7, Diamondbacks 6: Down by one, the Phillies put up a four-run sixth inning capped by a Cameron Rupp three-run homer. He also had a sac fly in the game giving him four RBI. Rupp also made a nice swipe tag on a play at the plate that went to replay review and was upheld. Here’s Dbacks manager Chip Hale after the call went against him:

“I thought he was safe. I guess it wasn’t enough evidence,” Hale said. “That’s what you always hear. That’s their excuse. Not enough evidence. That’s the way it goes.”

You mad, bro?  The Phillies avoid the sweep. 

Reds 7, Padres 3: Matt Kemp hit a first inning three-run homer, but that’s all the Padres would do. Joey Votto hit a two-run homer. He also scored on a balk by James Shields, who has not won in 13 starts. Only three years left on that $75 million deal.

 

Rays 9, Braves 6: The Braves blew a four-run lead in the seventh when the Rays put up a six-spot. Curt Casali hit a two-run homer that inning along with a James Loney RBI double and a Logan Forsythe sacrifice fly. There was also a wild pitch and some clownshoes Braves defense in the mix. Personally, I spent my evening watching the Perseid meteor shower. It was far more engaging.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 2: Michael Wacha beats Gerrit Cole, giving the former his 14th win and leaving the latter at 14 wins, which ties both of them with Felix Hernandez for tops in the game. This was the Yadier Molina show, though. He had an RBI triple thanks to a poor decision in the outfield by Gregory Polanco, who let the ball get by him. He also stole a dang base — third base! — and threw out Polanco trying to steal.

Cubs 3, Brewers 2: Assuming, as it often safe to assume, that a wild pitch is a joint failure of catcher and pitcher, Miguel Montero contributed to this one going to extra innings when a wild pitch went past him in the ninth to tie the score. But he atoned just fine, thanks, by hitting the walkoff homer for the Cubs sixth straight win and their 12th in 13 games. Chicago is only a game and a half behind Pittsburgh for second place in the Central and first place in the NL Wild Card race.

White Sox 3, Angels 2: Avisail Garcia doubled in Jose Abreu in the 13th for the walkoff win. There was some controversy here in the ninth inning when the Angels tied it up, though. Angels shortstop Erick Aybar struck out to lead off the ninth against Dave Robertson. The ball was in the dirt, so catcher Tyler Flowers reached out to tag Aybar on the leg and was called out, but Aybar still broke for first base. A replay challenge ensued on whether the tag was made. After the out was confirmed, Mike Scioscia came out to argue and/or get an explanation from the home plate umpire. As he did so, he stood in front of home plate. After the game Robertson, who went on to blow the save that inning and force extras, called the move “bush league” by Scioscia, claiming that he was delaying the game by arguing and implying that he did so in that exact spot to keep Robertson from getting loose during the replay delay. Scioscia denied it. Fun, fun times.

Tigers 7, Royals 4: Detroit rallied with a four-run eighth inning and added one more in the ninth. The rally started against Edinson Volquez, who Ned Yost left to begin the eighth inning rather than go to Kelvin Herrera. Herrera was eventually called upon and let a couple of inherited runners score. Defensible given where Volquez’s pitch count was, I suppose, and the Royals lead in the Central is so big that it kind of doesn’t matter I guess. It’s the kind of decision that Yost would be wise to avoid when the games matter a bit more in October.

Twins 11, Rangers 1: Miguel Sano homered twice as the Twins win in a laugher. Both of his shots were absolute rockets that went upper deck. They were almost as impressive as the Perseid meteor shower.

Dodgers 3, Nationals 0: Clayton Kershaw with eight strikeouts in eight shutout innings. He was perfect through six. He also crossed the 200-strikeout mark and it was only August 12. It’s his sixth straight year of 200Ks, which matches Koufax and Tom Seaver for the lead in that department in the National League. I assumed Nolan Ryan, like, doubled up on that at some point but even he never had six-straight 200K seasons. Which is sort of amazing to me, but that’s how streaks go I guess. And that’s how crazy consistent Kershaw has been.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.