And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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That feeling when you can’t for the life you remember why they didn’t start the season at the end of March like they so often do and, thus, why this isn’t the last weekend of the season coming up now, with the playoffs starting next week and the World Series being ensured to finish in October. Anyway:

Royals 10, Mariners 4: The clinch was obviously important. Having the previously struggling Johnny Cueto allow only three runs over seven innings was, in the short term anyway, just as important. Now the most important business left is to maintain their two-game lead over the Blue Jays for the best record in the AL so that a potential ALCS will feature Kuffman Stadium as the home park rather than Rogers Centre.

Dodgers 6, Diamondbacks 3: Clayton Kershaw got mad at Don Mattingly for taking him out of the game five innings in and down 3-0, but it ended up being the right decision as the Dodgers rallied for six in the bottom half of the inning, while he was still the pitcher of the record and five L.A. relievers shut the Dbacks down the rest of the way. Now, rather than having answer questions about strife, everyone is allowed to say that Kershaw is just “a competitor” and stuff. Wins do that for people. He can thank Chris Heisey and his grand slam for most of that.

Watch what would be a big controversy today if the Dodgers hadn’t rallied but now is no big thing because of hindsight:

[mlbvideo id=”499180983″ width=”600″ height=”336″ /]

Pirates 5, Rockies 4: Pedro Alvarez hit a go-ahead, three-run homer in the eighth inning as the Pirates showed no ill-effects from the previous night’s champagne celebration despite this being a day game. Maybe it’s just that, as celebrations go, “clinching the wild card” is not as party-worthy as clinching a division or winning a playoff series. There are likely unwritten rules about this to which none of us are privy. Oh, and this was the Pirates’ 10,000th franchise win. At least since joining the National League. They played five seasons as the Pittsburgh Allegheneys in the American Association before that, though, and if you counted those games they were past 10,000 a while back.

Rangers 8, Athletics 1: A three game sweep of the A’s, this one behind Cole Hamels‘ six sharp innings, three Adrian Beltre RBI and a Prince Fielder homer. They now lead Houston by three and a half games and head to Houston to play them this weekend. Two wins and it’s over, right?

Orioles 5, Nationals 4: There were no beanballs here, the day after Papelbon hit Machado. My guess is that the Orioles mostly pity the Nationals at this point and realize that Papelbon doesn’t really represent team sentiment. I’d like to think that they also take the notion of living well being the best revenge to heart, and beating the other guys the next day is living well. They did so thanks to a late Matt Wieters homer which gave the O’s their 11th win in 15 games. It’s a nice late season surge, even if it’s a little too late.

Yankees 3, White Sox 2: Carlos Beltran hit a three-run bomb off of Chris Sale in the third inning and while that didn’t put the Sox in a deficit as deep as a well nor give the Yankees a lead as wide as a church door, ’twas enough, ’twill serve. I have no idea why that popped in my head.

Rays 4, Red Sox 2: Evan Longoria hit a homer that started the Rays comeback. It was his 20th, and, according to the AP recap, that put him alongside Eddie Mathews, Chipper Jones and Scott Rolen as the only third baseman to hit 20 homers in seven of their first eight years in the majors. Which seems like a rather contrived and somewhat misleading accomplishment, but hey, it’s not like this game had anything else significant going on.

Mets 6, Reds 4Daniel Murphy hit a tie-breaking triple in the seventh inning and had two other hits. This, combined with the Nats’ loss, puts the Mets’ magic number at three. That means they could very well clinch the division while in Cincinnati. Which could be dangerous. Because there ain’t no party like a Cincinnati party ’cause a Cincinnati party don’t stop.

Marlins 1, Phillies 0: On the one hand it was a low-scoring game between two of the worst and, even worse, two of the least interesting teams in baseball. On the other hand it only lasted two and a half hours, so it was sort of a pull-the-bandage-off-quickly affair. The only score was J.T. Realmuto’s RBI triple in the seventh. Since he’s a catcher I suppose we can call that interesting at least.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 3Jhonny Peralta and Stephen Piscotty combined for all seven of the Cardinals runs. Their last names would likewise make an excellent name of a 1980s cop drama. “Peralta and Piscotty, tonight, right after ‘Hunter’! Only on NBC!”

Indians 6, Twins 3Jason Kipnis hit a leadoff homer and Carlos Santana hit a three-run shot in the third. The Astros send flowers.

Padres 5, Giants 4: The second walkoff win in a row for the Padres over the Giants, this one courtesy of pinch-hitter Alexi Amarista‘s single. Bruce Bochy only used five relievers in the final two innings instead of six like he did the night before. Which, efficiency experts and scientists and stuff would tell you is, all things considered, a better result even if it still ended in a loss. It’s all about energy put into the system and stuff.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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