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And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 7, Pirates 4: A quietly excellent start for the Tigers, who took three of four in a home-and-home against the Pirates. Jordan Zimmermann pitched six shutout innings, Nick Castellanos homered and drove in four. Last year the Tigers could never really depend on starters in Zimmermann’s position in the rotation and didn’t get much out of Castellanos. If those things have changed, so too have the team’s fortunes.

Phillies 3, Padres 0: I wrote up how amazing Vince Velasquez’s start was here and Bill added some extra facts about it here. Then on Twitter I had the audacity to note that, perhaps, this Padres team, which has been shutout in half of its games so far this year, is not actually very good and that their futility also contributed to the results. Because it’s possible, is it not, for a pitcher to have (a) pitched AMAZINGLY well; and (b) for a team to suck.

Guess not! Because Phillies fans came out of the woodwork to tell me how crappy a thing that was to say and how disrespectful I was. One called me a “clown” and many said I had an axe to grind because I’m a Braves fan. One person asked if I would dare say such a thing if John Smoltz had turned in such a performance. Another asked if I’d say it if Clayton Kershaw did. Because, yes, Velasquez has totally earned a comp to a Hall of Famer and the best pitcher in baseball. In other news, I missed Phillies fans and how insanely sensitive and insecure they can be. Their team having sucked for a while has kept them quiet in recent years, but it only took one game for that “you must not only note how GOOD we are, but you must also RESPECT us and not say ONE THING BAD ABOUT US EVER, EVEN INDIRECTLY, or else we’ll lose our minds” side to reemerge. I missed that. 2010 seems so long ago.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 0: An equally fantastic outing from Jaime Garcia, who handcuffed the Brewers with 13 strikeouts in a complete game shutout. To be on the safe side here, let me say that the 2016 Milwaukee Brewers are as good as the 1927 Yankees and Jaime Garcia is basically Walter Johnson. Let no man say that I have disrespected the Cardinals!

White Sox 3, Twins 1: Stop me if you’ve heard this one, but the Twins lost again. The Twins have scored only 14 runs in those nine games. The White Sox, meanwhile, are 7-2, which is their best start since they went 8-1 to begin the 1982 season.

Indians 6, Rays 0: Danny Salazar pitched six shutout innings, striking out nine and walking three. Chris Archer, meanwhile, is 0-3 after giving up three runs on seven hits in five and a third. He is 0-6 with a 5.83 ERA in nine starts since beating Baltimore on Aug. 31.

Rockies 11, Giants 6: Jorge De La Rosa will probably have a statue at Coors Field some day. Sounds crazy, but really, he’s the only pitcher who has truly survived that place and, at times, has thrived. Yesterday he contributed with his bat and his arm, notching two hits and driving in two runs while allowing three earned runs, striking out seven and pitching into the seventh inning. Is that pitching line the stuff of legends? Nah, but merely going into the seventh as a Rockies starter is impressive and without checking, I’m going to assume he’s done it more than anyone, perhaps by a factor of two or three.

Cubs 8, Reds 1: The sweep. The Cubs are now 8-1 for the first time in 47 years. That, for those of you who can do math, was 1969. That year they started out as winners of 11 of 12. The season didn’t end well for them then — black cats and the New York Mets happened — but it certainly can’t be a bad thing to start out this hot.

Nationals 6, Braves 2: Bryce Harper’s 100th career homer was a grand slam. It broke a piece of the friggin’ scoreboard too. For those who pay attention to such things, Harper’s 100th came in his 518th career game, when he was 8,851 days old. Hank Aaron’s 100th homer came in his 538th game, when he was 8,594 days old. The Braves will likely not win a game for another 8,937 days.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 2: A three-run bomb from Josh Donaldson in the fifth and a solo shot from Troy Tulowitzki in the sixth. Donaldson’s went a long, long way. The reigning MVP has five home runs, 12 RBI, and a .325 average on the season.

Rangers 6, Orioles 3: A five-run sixth inning by Texas got Cole Hamels off the hook for a loss and handed him a win while handing the O’s their second straight loss. Rougned Odor had a tie-breaking two-run double as part of that rally.

Royals 6, Astros 2: So far so good for a free agent pickup a lot of people thought could be a bust or, at the very least, an overpay. Ian Kennedy turned in his second straight strong outing to start the season, allowing only two hits — though one was a homer — in seven innings. In his debut last weekend against the Twins he pitched six and two-thirds shutout innings. Of course, that was the Twins and they’re terrible [waits for Royals fans to get as pissy as Phillies fans about such a statement; waits forever; dies having never heard a peep because Royals fans, while increasingly hilarious lately, aren’t crazily insecure people].

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 2: The Dodgers were down 2-0 in the seventh — with starter Ross Stripling’s excellent outing seemingly going for naught for a second straight time — but then their bats woke up. Kiké Hernandez hit a two-run double and Yasiel Puig, Jacob Turner and Adrian Gonzalez each singled in runs. In other news, Kiké Hernandez’s heroics are the single biggest reason I’ve learned how to write the accent symbol.

Nationals to reinstate Max Scherzer on Thursday

Max Scherzer
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Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.

It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.

While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.

If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.