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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mariners 16, Padres 4: It was 10-0 by the third inning and 16-0 by the fifth. James Shields is being talked about as a trade target, but giving up ten runs on eight hits and four walks in two and two-thirds isn’t exactly gonna foment a bidding war. Five homers by the Mariners, two by Seth Smith. A position player, Christian Bethancourt, pitched and lit up the radar gun. A fun time was had by all. Well, all except anyone affiliated with or partial to the San Diego Padres.

Astros 8, Diamondbacks 5: George Springer singled, doubled, homered and drove in four. Batting order politics are usually silly and a lot of players say it doesn’t matter to them where they hit, but Springer was recently moved to the leadoff spot and he’s 17-for-35 with three home runs there. It’s either working for him or there are some correlation/causation illusions afoot.

Rangers 7, Indians 3: Colby Lewis tossed six shutout innings and Bryan Holaday and Jurickson Profar homered. That’s nine of 11 for them. “He knows how to pitch,” Rangers manager Jeff Banister said of Lewis after the game. “We didn’t have to teach him. Last guy came in here threw the ball with his butt cheeks and thought the point was to let the batter hit the ball,” Banister did not add, except for in my fanciful imagination in which managers say totally hilarious and nonsensical things like that to see if the reporters are actually listening or if they’re merely holding their tape recorders up while day dreaming about opening a restaurant of finishing that novel they started five years ago.

Red Sox 6, Orioles 2: Mookie Betts was a one-man wrecking crew, hitting three homers and driving in five. Dustin Pedroia drove one in too so I suppose it was technically a two-man wrecking crew, though Betts did most of the wrecking. He went home after the game and told his wife “people say Dustin and I are quite a two-man wrecking crew, but I do most of the wrecking and he makes more money than me. It’s politics, man.” Mrs. Betts nodded thoughtfully and rubbed Mookie’s back. She knows. He never has to explain anything to her. He never has to justify himself. That’s the power of their relationship.

Nationals 5, Phillies 1: Daniel Murphy continues to be ridiculous, notching two more hits and pushing his average up to .397. Only downside of this is that it’s gonna cause a bunch of people to write “Can Murphy hit .400?” columns. The answer to that is “no, he cannot, unless he gets up to .400 this week and then is placed on the DL with some odd 19th century disease that flummoxes physicians until after the regular season is over.” The dirty secret of certain impossible to reach milestones from the Golden Age of Baseball is that they were set because there was less overall talent in the game then than now, allowing those who were supremely talented like Ted Williams to tower far more over their opposition than a player can today. Think of it like college football: a college running back can do things like average six or seven yards a carry because half of the teams he plays are fielding dudes who sort of suck by comparison. He could never do it in the NFL. The same goes for baseball. Ted Williams was great, but a lot of pitchers and defenses (and grounds crews and official scorers) from 1941 aren’t nearly as good as the ones with which Daniel Murphy has to contend today. The tougher overall level of competition and the more difficult context mitigates strongly against a .400 hitter. And that’s before you remember, “hey, this is Daniel Murphy here, not Ted Williams.” Nice season still, but don’t bother with the “can he hit .400?” columns.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 1: The Jays have beaten the Yankees in 12 of their last 16 meetings. Yankees fans in my Twitter timeline have become increasingly cranky about the Blue Jays since last year. Coincidence? I think not. Kevin Pillar singled in the go ahead run in the seventh. He also made a sweet grab, flying like a freakin’ bird:

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Marlins 3, Pirates 1: Jose Fernandez tossed seven scoreless, striking out six and allowing only three hits while throwing 62 of 88 pitches for strikes. He’s pretty good.

Giants 4, Braves 0: Jake Peavy tossed seven scoreless, allowing only one hit and having that dude erased on a double play, so he faced only 21 batters. George Kontos allowed one walk in relief but the pen was otherwise perfect. The Braves are pretty bad.

White Sox 6, Mets 4: The White Sox end their seven game losing streak thanks to Tyler Saladino hitting a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to help Chicago come back after being down four early. Todd Frazier hit a two-run homer. That’s 16 for him on the year.

Cardinals 10, Brewers 3: Four hits for Matt Carpenter. Who had four hits the day before. If he has four hits today some people are going to assume he’s doing some sort of Sim City-style money cheat thing. If I remember correctly, if you used that cheat too many times in Sim City it caused earthquakes or giant lizards to run amok or something. Please Matt Carpenter, do not cause earthquakes or lizards. Think of the innocent civilians.

Royals 10, Rays 5Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez are all injured, so of course the Royals offense has improved lately. That’s just totally predictable logic and stuff. Lorenzo Cain drove in four. Kansas City was seven games out of first on May 10. They’re two up in first place now. Watch out for earthquakes and lizards on the other side of Missouri too.

Dodgers 5, Cubs 0: Scott Kazmir and the pen combine to blank the Cubbies on a one-hitter. Chicago lost a Jake Arrieta start for the first time since the middle of last season — a span of 23 starts — despite the fact that he tossed seven scoreless innings himself. As that suggests, this game was closer than the final score would suggest. Corey Seager hit a three-run homer off Trevor Cahill in the ninth for some breathing room after the Dodgers plated two in the eighth against the Cubs’ pen. It was the Dodgers’ seventh win in nine games, despite the fact that their offense has been sputtering.

Rockies 17, Reds 4: The Rockies hit seven homers on the night, tying a franchise record for homers in a single game. Charlie Blackmon had two of them, a solo shot and a grand slam, on his five-RBI night. Nolan Arenado likewise went deep twice and drove in four. The Reds pitching staff: not great.

Angels 11, Tigers 9: This was a wild one. C.J. Cron hit two homers, including a two-run walkoff blast to break a ninth inning tie. It shouldn’t have even been tied as the Angels had a 9-2 lead entering the sixth inning, but where there’s a will, the Tigers bullpen will find a way. The clubs combined for nine homers. Jefry Marte and Mike Trout each hit a bomb for L.A. as well.

Athletics 7, Twins 4: Four in a row for Oakland. Danny Valencia homered and drove in three runs. Stephen Vogt had three hits and drove in two. Marcus Semien and Billy Burns each had two hits and drove in a run as well. The A’s have beaten the Twins in Oakland 15 of the last 18 times. Given the unbalanced schedule, that dates back to [mashes hands on calculator] 1942. Which was when this would’ve been a Washington-Philadelphia matchup. That can’t be right. [throws calculator in the trash].

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.