And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 8, Nationals 7: It started so well for Matt Williams the Nats. They beat up on Matt Harvey and took a 7-0 lead into the top of the seventh. Then all hell broke loose and the season itself may have slipped away. Or maybe it was just given away. By both a Nats bullpen that has more definitively lost its way than Amelia Earhart and by their manager, Matt Williams.

Blake TreinenFelipe Rivero and Drew Storen combined to give up six runs and walk six guys in a disastrous meltdown of a seventh inning and, with no one else to really go to, Jonathan Papelbon pitched the eighth where he gave up the go-ahead homer to Kirk Nieuwenhuis. All of that was horrible and was enough to kill Nats fans, but then, in the bottom of the ninth, with a man on and no one out, Anthony Rendon — who was already 2-for-4 on the night — worked the count to 3-1. And then . . . tried to bunt. This despite the fact that Rendon, a top-5 MVP candidate last year, had not laid down a sacrifice bunt all season. It didn’t work and what was already an ugly night for Nats fans turned into an ugly night for Matt Williams, at least if he’s on Twitter (note to Matt Williams: do NOT get on Twitter).

Yesterday, I took issue with people who said that Matt Harvey’s outing would put an end to the drama about his possible shutdown. The game certainly did. But not because of anything Harvey did. Bur because the Nats basically handed the Mets the division last night and showed the people and press of New York what real problems in September look like. The Nats have them plenty, my friends, in both their bullpen and in the manager’s office, and that’s why they’re gonna be shut down come the evening of October 4.

Athletics 4, Astros 0: Fact: if you use that quote — and it’s really a misquote — from that Tom Hanks astronaut movie after an Astros loss, you are fined $200 by the Baseball Writers Association. It’s true. I don’t make the rules. Sonny Gray outpitched former A’s teammate Scott Kazmir, reducing the Astros’ division lead to one game. Why? Because . . .

Rangers 9, Mariners 6: . . . the Rangers hit four homers and Cole Hamels gutted out seven innings despite getting smacked in the shoulder with a comebacker in the third inning. Mitch Moreland, Shin-Soo Choo and Rougned Odor all homered early off of Taijuan Walker and Joey Gallo went deep in the eighth.

Dodgers 6, Angels 4: I was in the attic the other day and found a giant dusty stack of newspapers from April and May of this year with headlines screaming “WHAT’S WRONG WITH Clayton Kershaw?!!”  Hahaha, I’m just kidding. I don’t have an attic and newspapers are dead. So too is that silly little spring meme, as Kershaw cruised again, allowing one earned run in seven innings striking out eight. Five straight wins for the Dodgers, whose division lead now stands a comfortable eight and a half games.

Marlins 6, Brewers 4J.T. Realmuto hit two homers, including an inside-the-parker thanks to Brewers center fielder Domingo Santana not knowing how angles and richochets and things work. Stay in school kids. Take geometry and physics, even if you’re a big star athlete. It can come in handy someday.

Orioles 2, Yankees 1: Chris Davis smacked his 41st homer of the year in the ninth to break a 1-1 tie and give the game to the O’s. Masahiro Tanaka struck out 10 guys and Alex Rodriguez hit is 30th bomb, but it wasn’t enough. With the Jays’ win, the Yankees fall one and a half games behind.

Phillies 5, Braves 0: Aaron Nola pitched seven scoreless innings to help the Phillies snap a five-game losing streak. Ryan Weber pitched for the Braves. Good enough for a big league debut for a crap team — he allowed two runs in six innings — but you know how these things go. He is the 59th player the Braves have used this year. Maybe the seventh or eighth decent one.

Tigers 8, Rays 7: Rajai Davis has lodged a formal protest with the league office over the 2016 schedule that was released yesterday. His beef: it doesn’t include more games for him against the Rays. A day after hitting two homers against Tampa Bay Davis hit the game-winning sac fly in the 13th inning here. He also homered. Of course he struck out a lot and was involved in replay challenges that could’ve caused him to be out twice but didn’t, but he’ll take that. This was a wild one, tied four times and lasting until after midnight.

Blue Jays 5, Red Sox 1: Your standard four-run tenth inning for Toronto. Josh Donaldson tripled to lead things off — it looked like a homer at first but replay said it wasn’t — and then Troy Tulowitzki singled him in. Chris Colabello then singled in Dalton Pompey, Alexi Ogando balked in Tulowitzki and then Kevin Pillar hit a sacrifice fly scoring Colabello. Got all that?

Pirates 7, Reds 3Andrew McCutchen hit a three-run homer and Francisco Liriano pitched six shutout innings. That gave the Buccos their 82nd win, ensuring their third straight winning season. Which used to be a big deal for them but ain’t anymore.

Royals 4, Twins 2: Four runs in the first for KC, three of which came on an Eric Hosmer double, and that was all they needed. Edinson Volquez allowed two runs over seven and Wade Davis and Greg Holland did Wade Davis and Greg Holland things.

Cubs 8, Cardinals 5: Starlin Castro has hit pretty well since losing his job. Here he hit a three-run homer and drove in four.  Anthony Rizzo is not in danger of losing his job, likely for the next decade or so. He homered and had three RBI himself.

White Sox 7, Indians 4: Carlos Rodon allowed one run through seven and Rob Brantly hit a three-run homer. Jose Abreu went 3-for-4 with a homer and a double and drove in two. I’d say more about this game but these guys are all basically making me hum “Wake me up when September ends” on an endless loop.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 2: Tim Hudson allowed one run over six innings and went 2-for-3 with a homer. Viva old bald guys born on July 14. They’re really the best kind of people.

 

Padres 2, Rockies 1Brett Wallace hit a walkoff fielder’s choice. You don’t hear that phrase very often.

Indians trade Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers

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The Cleveland Indians have traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers. In exchange, Texas is sending center fielder Delino DeShields and pitcher Emmanuel Clase to the Indians. There are reports that the Indians will be getting more than just those two players, but no word yet. The deal is pending physical.

Kluber made only seven starts this past year thanks to a broken arm and a strained oblique muscle. When he did pitch he was no great shakes, posting a 5.80 ERA and 44 hits in 35.2 innings. Those were freak injuries that do not suggest long-term problems, however, so there’s a good reason to think he’ll bounce back to useful form, even if it’s a tough ask for him to return to the form that won him the 2014 and 2017 Cy Young Award.

Before his injury-wracked 2019 campaign, Kluber pitched over 200 innings in each of his previous five seasons so mileage could be an issue. For his career he’s 98-58 with a 3.16 ERA (134 ERA+), a 2.99 FIP, and a K/BB ratio of 1,461/292 over 1,341.2 innings in nine big league seasons.

Unless there is cash coming from Cleveland in the deal, the Rangers will be paying him $17.5 million this year and a 2021 option of $14 million pursuant to the five-year, $38.5 million contract he inked with Cleveland before the 2015 season.

DeShields, 27, is a career .246/.326/.342 hitter (76 OPS+) and that’s about how he performed in 2019 as well. He was demoted to Triple-A Nashville in May. Clase, who will turn 22 before next season, pitched 21 games, all but one in relief, for the Rangers in 2019 and will still be considered a rookie in 2020. He has been used mostly as a reliever in the minors as well.

Pending what else the Tribe is going to be getting, this appears to be a light return for a pitcher who, despite his 2019 injuries, should be expected to come back and be a workhorse. Unless there is some real talent coming back, in addition to DeShields and Clase, it would seem to be a salary dump for Cleveland and a steal for Texas. It is likewise perplexing how any of the many, many teams who could use starting pitching — the Angels and the Mets, among others, come to mind — could not top the package Texas offered.

As for the Indians, the commitment to Kluber for 2020-21 is $31.5 million if you exercise next year’s option, $18.5 million if you don’t. He’s one year and a freak injury removed from goin 20-7 with a 2.89 (150 ERA+), 0.991 WHIP, and 215 innings pitched. Cleveland is coming off 93 wins and should contend. Why you trade Kluber in that situation, regardless of the return, is a question they should have to answer to fans who expect to see winning baseball.