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And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Tigers 6, White Sox 3: Justin Verlander struck out 10 and three Tigers batters — Nicholas Castellanos, Ian Kinsler and JaCoby Jones — hit bombs. Jose Quintana gave up six runs in a little over five innings, which isn’t great for that whole “we’re gonna get a boatload of prospects for Jose Quintana” thing Rick Hahn and the Sox had in mind. Of course, looking back to my first season of “And That Happened” the other day reminded me that that was the year the Indians wanted to trade CC Sabathia and he ended up starting the season by getting shelled on the regular for the whole first month and change. By the end of the year he was carrying the Brewers into the playoffs on his back, so it works out. Not that Jose Quintana is 2008 vintage CC Sabathia or anything.

Yankees 5, Rays 0: 2017 vintage CC Sabathia is no 2008 vintage CC Sabathia either, but he did just fine last night, tossing five shutout innings. Chase Headley has started out quickly, in large part because he’s been taking what the defense gives him and hitting it the opposite way away from the shift. Of course, sometimes it’s fun just to hit a friggin’ dinger, and he did that last night too. Shortstop Ronald Torreyes did so too, a two run shot.

Rockies 6, Brewers 5: Two games, two saves for Greg Holland. The entire Rockies bullpen has been doing alright too, starting the year with 8.1 scoreless innings in two games. Setup man Mike Dunn struck out three Brewers, all looking, while protecting a one-run lead in the eighth. Meanwhile, former Brewers Gerardo Parra and Mark Reynolds were impolite to their former team, with Parra hitting a bases-loaded double in the third inning which put the Rockies ahead Reynolds hitting an RBI double in the fifth.

Indians 4, Rangers 3: Welcome back Carlos Carrasco. The Tribe starter who missed the playoffs last year with a broken hand struck out seven in five and two thirds last night, giving up two runs and snagging the win. Carlos Santana hit a short homer — 367 feet — in a winning effort. Joey Gallo hit a long homer — 442 feet — in a losing effort. Gallo has some holes in his swing, but he knocks the hell out of the ball when he connects:

Astros 2, Mariners 1: The Astros’ biggest question this year is their rotation, a year after hardly anyone stepped up for them in that department. Lance McCullers‘ failure to do last year was more about injury than ineffectiveness, but he’s healthy now and gave Houston their second strong starting pitching outing in two games, striking out seven and allowing only one run while tossing six innings. The offense came via Brian McCann‘s first homer in an Astros uniform and a solo shot from Marwin Gonzalez in the sixth.

Cubs 2, Cardinals 1: Jake Arrieta allowed one run, unearned, in six innings. The highlight of the game, though, was Albert Almora Jr. robbing Matt Adams of a home run in the bottom of the seventh:

All of the StatCast stuff that goes with that is there to inform you that it was, in fact, a good catch. Because you would’ve had no way of knowing that it was without it. Or at least that’s how I interpret most StatCast stuff.

Giants 8, Diamondbacks 4: A Dante-from-Clerks game for Gorkys Hernandez — he wasn’t even supposed to be here today — but he made the most of it, driving in four runs with a two-run single and a two-run double. No word as to whether he had a run in with his girlfriend after she brought him lasagna. Johnny Cueto went five innings and got the win despite giving up home runs to Jake Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt. Cueto thinks this job would be great if it wasn’t for the f*****g opposing batters and has strong feelings about the contractors on the Death Star.

Angels 7, Athletics 6: Matt Shoemaker made his first start since a comebacker fractured his skull last year, so he’d prefer not listening to you complain about having to come in to work this morning. Shoemaker pitched five innings allowing two runs on four hits. He left with a lead but got the no-decision after his bullpen faltered. Danny Espinosa did not falter, however, as he hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to bring the Angels back from a 6-4 deficit and help them to a 7-6 win. Welcome back Matt.

Padres 4, Dodgers 0: Clayton Richard tossed eight shutout innings for San Diego, turning things around pretty dramatically after the drubbing the Padres received at the hands of the Dodgers on Opening Day. Yangervis Solarte drove in two, singling home a run in the first and hitting a solo homer in the third.

 

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.