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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 8, Nationals 4: Chase Utley hit a leadoff homer and drove in three on three hits. Scott Kazmir gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, striking out eight. He’s 6-0 in his last 12 starts. The last time Clayton Kershaw pitched for the Dodgers the club lost and they fell to eight games back of the Giants. Since then they’re 12-6 and are 4.5 games back. Baseball is a team sport, you guys.

Marlins 2, Phillies 1Christian Yelich homered and drove in the game-winning run with a single in the 10th inning. He’s been on fire since making a mysterious tweet about someone making a defamatory video that someone tried to claim depicted him doing . . . something, but which was not him. I’m still stuck on the notion that someone, somewhere in this country considered Yelich, a nice player but by no means a super celebrity, the reasonable target for a faked, well, whatever video.

Blue Jays 5, Diamondbacks 1: Edwin Encarnacion hit a three-run homer. He’s hit nine homers in seven career games at Chase Field. After the game he suggested it was maybe the batter’s eye at that park. Who knows. As Crash Davis said, “if you believe you’re playing well because you’re getting laid, or because you’re not getting laid, or because you wear women’s underwear, then you *are*! And you should know that!” But I guess a nice batter’s eye is good too. Aaron Sanchez won. He’s 9-0 in his last 15 starts. Maybe he’s wearing women’s underwear.

Rays 10, Rockies 1: Blake Snell pitched well and Even Longoria drove in three as the Rays routed the Rockies. In other news, am I the only person who ever sits and wonders how they’d explain the modern world to time travelers who suddenly appeared at their door? Like, say, suddenly Thomas Jefferson — and for me it’s always been Thomas Jefferson for some reason — were to just show up and it was my job to explain to him air travel and world events like the Civl War and Wourld War II and everything that had happened in the past 200 years or so? Sometimes it’s in a baseball context and the person would be Cap Anson or someone and I’d have to explain that, yeah, we have teams in Denver and St. Petersburg, Florida now. I guess if it was Anson I’d also have to explain why we allow non-whites to play. He’d probably get super mad about it too, but I suppose if Jefferson had to deal with the end of slavery — THAT was a tense imaginary conversation, brother — Anson could grow the hell up too. Man, I’ve gone on about this long enough now to where I sure hope I’m not the only one who has had super lame daydreams about historically significant time-travelers. That would be rather nerdy and embarrassing. So, um, if I am the only one, know that I am TOTALLY joking about that and it never, ever happened. Yeah.

Pirates 3, Brewers 2: Josh Harrison hit a walkoff homer. Well, it was actually a triple and an error which allowed him to score, but every kid in America who is unfamiliar with official scoring would call it a homer. We’re so hung up on rules and stuff, man. Free your mind, sheeple. In other news Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon took a 105 m.p.h. line drive to the head and somehow was allowed to stay in the game. That seems . . . responsible and stuff.

Mets 2, Cubs 1Rene Rivera drove in the tiebreaking run with two outs in the top of the ninth and then Jeurys Familia escaped a bases-loaded, nobody out jam in the ninth to save it. The late drama eclipsed nice starts from Jake Arrieta (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 8K) and Noah Syndergaard (5.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 8K).

Yankees 7, Orioles 1: Starlin Castro hit a two-run homer and doubled in a couple more. Chase Headley hit a two-run shot as well as the Yankees win their third straight and move a game over .500.

 

Red Sox 4, Giants 0: David Ortiz hit a three-run homer and Brock HoltBROCK HOLT! — hit a solo shot. The Giants have lost four straight to start the second half. After the game Bruce Bochy said “We just need somebody to get a big hit and inject some life into this offense.” Yet this same man is not allowing Madison Bumgarner to hit for himself in this weekend’s series against the Yankees. Physician, heal thyself.

Twins 6, Tigers 2: Tommy Milone shut out the Tigers for eight innings before running out of gas in the ninth. Still, not too shabby for a pitcher no often accused of being not too shabby. Eduardo Nunez was named the Twins Heart and Hustle Award winner yesterday morning and drove in three yesterday evening. Not a bad day for him.

Braves 5, Reds 4: The Braves led 4-2 entering the bottom of the ninth, the Reds rallied for two to force extras but then Ender Inciarte hit a sac fly for the go-ahead run in the 11th. Tyrell Jenkins allowed two runs on four hits in six innings in his second big league start. That’s somethin’ I guess.

Indians 7, Royals 3: Danny Salazar held the Royals to three runs — two earned — in six and two-thirds and struck out seven. The Tribe’s 3-4-5 hitters, Francisco Lindor, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana, drove in two runs a piece. Cleveland maintains a 6.5 lead over the Tigers and an eight game lead over the Royals in the Central.

Angels 8, Rangers 6: Two three-run homers for Albert Pujols. That’s pretty good, huh? Both came off of former teammate Kyle Lohse, who is 0-2 and has allowed 13 runs in 9.1 innings pitched so far. That’s pretty bad, huh? Both of these guys debuted in 2001. I feel like only one of them will be playing past 2016. In other news, Texas reliever Tony Barnette hit Pujols in the head with a 92 mph pitch in the seventh inning. It was an accident — Barnette apologized profusely on the field — and Pujols is OK, but I’m sure some old school jackass somewhere thinks Pujols deserved it for hitting a couple of bombs.

Athletics 4, Astros 3: Marcus Semien won the A’s Heart and Hustle Award yesterday morning. Then he scored the game-winning run from second base on an infield single. That’s . . . something we probably need to see:

 

More like the Heart and Hustle and Reddick Hit Away From The Shift and Correa’s Throw Was Offline Award, but that’s pretty spiffy all the same.

White Sox 6, Mariners 1: Melky Cabrera hit a tie-breaking homer leading off the seventh inning and Todd Frazier added a two-run shot in the ninth as the White Sox snapped a five-game losing streak. Brett Lawrie hit a solo homer too. Jose Quintana allowed one run over six innings. That creep can roll, man.

Padres vs. Cardinals — POSTPONED: I wish, I hope, I wonder
Where you’re at sometimes
Is your back against the wall?
Or just across the line
Have you been standing in the rain
Reciting nursery rhymes?
Trying to recall
Some long lost kind of peace of mind
Peace of mind
Try spending the night sometime
All alone in a frozen room
Afterneath you’ve lain
Your Saddle in the rain

Two injured MVPs is a major bummer for baseball

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Last week Christian Yelich‘s season ended with a fractured kneecap. At the time he went down he was neck-and-neck with Cody Bellinger — I think a tad behind, though people may reasonably differ — and, at least by my reckoning, a hair or three above Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Pete Alonso in the race for the NL MVP Award. As I wrote last week, I think that means Bellinger is going to walk away with the hardware when the winner is announced in November. Yelich’s injury will prevent him from making a late season surge to surpass Bellinger, but I think it would’ve taken a surge for him to do it.

Over the weekend we learned that Mike Trout’s season is over as well. He’ll be having foot surgery to deal with a nerve issue causing him pain. At the time he went down he was the clear frontrunner to win his third MVP Award. Unlike Yelich, I’m pretty sure Trout will still win the trophy. Sure, Trout hasn’t played since September 7, meaning that he’ll miss more time than Yelich will, but strained articles stumping for alternative candidates notwithstanding, his lead in the MVP race was more secure.

Trout’s 2019 ends with him setting a career high in homers with 45 and slugging percentage at .645—both of which lead the American League. He likewise leads the league in on-base percentage (.438), OPS (1.083), and in both Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs’ versions of WAR at 8.3 and 8.6, respectively. With just under two weeks to go it seems likely that Jorge Soler of the Royals will pass Trout for the home run lead, but he’s not an MVP candidate himself. Alex Bregman will likely pass him in walks. Trout seems pretty certain to finish with his lead in all or most of the other categories intact. That’s an MVP resume even if he’ll only have played in 134 games. To give the award to anyone else would be an exercise in narrative over reason. Something born of a desire to reward a guy — like, say, Bregman — for playing on a winning team as opposed to his individual accomplishments. Sure, voters are allowed to do that, but they’ve mostly eschewed such tendencies in recent years. It’d be a surprise if they backslid.

Even if Yelich’s and Trout’s injuries aren’t likely to radically change the MVP race — again, I think the NL’s was Bellinger’s to lose — they’re both still lamentable separate and apart from the fact that all injuries stink. Lamentable in a way that, unfortunately, creates a downer for baseball as it gets ready for the postseason.

The Brewers won the game in which Yelich went down and have won four of five since then. In so doing they have remained close in the race for the second Wild Card and currently stand one game back. They also have an insanely favorable schedule the rest of the way, exclusively facing the weak sisters of the National League in the Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies. Even so, it’s no gimmie — those Reds and Rockies games are on the road, and Great American Ballpark and Coors Field makes those bad teams better — and the reward at the end of this is likely to be a one-game play-in. You want your best player in any and all situations and the Brewers don’t have theirs. And won’t, even if they make the postseason and even if they win the Wild Card game. Having one of the game’s brightest stars on crutches for the playoffs is not something anyone at the league office wants.

The Angels have no such postseason concerns and haven’t had them for most of the season. Once again they’re terrible. As they have been for almost the entirety of Trout’s career. They’ve made the postseason only once in his career — back in 2014, losing the LDS in three games — and do not appear poised to put a winner on the field any time soon. Trout is still in his prime, obviously, but like all players he’ll either slow down or break down eventually. Given the state of the club, I’m not sure I’d put a ton of money on them being good, let alone consistently good, while Trout is still the best or even one of the few best players in baseball. The upside to me seems to be an Al Kaline situation with the Tigers, in which the team finally put it together behind him only after he began to age and miss time to injuries. Having the best player in baseball outside of the playoffs looking in is not something anyone at the league office should want either.

Yet here we are.

Injuries happen. Every contender is missing at least one and in some cases several important players. But for one MVP candidate to miss the postseason this year and another one to miss the postseason every year is a major bummer for a league that has a tough go of it marketing itself even under the best of circumstances.