And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Blue Jays 3, Mariners 2: It was tied 2-2 in the ninth when Kevin Pillar hit a two-out solo shot to walk it off. Toronto sweeps the series. The Jays were 8-17 in April. They’re 9-4 in May. It thaws later in Canada I guess.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 6Pat Valaika homered twice and drove in four. Nolan Arenado hit a homer too. Antonio Senzatela got the win. It was his sixth. He’s tied for the league lead in that department. Greg Holland got his 16th save. He leads the league in that department. The Rockies have 24 wins. They lead the league in that department.

Marlins 3, Braves 1: Miami scored only three runs. They all came on a Tyler Moore pinch-hit three-run homer. That snapped  the Marlins’ five-game losing streak. Miami’s starting pitcher Justin Nicolino:

“When we’re scuffling like this and we get a big win, momentum changes,” Nicolino said. “Momentum is on our side, and we’ve got to keep going.”

Bah. Momentum is Dan Straily.

Rays 11, Red Sox 2: Drew Pomeranz left early with a tight triceps and, while it was somewhat close for a while, the Boston pen ended up hemorrhaging runs late. Steven Souza Jr. hit a three-run homer, Jesus Sucre drove in three. It was a four and a half hour nine inning game, by the way. Baseball is the bes, but I have a hard time even doing things I love for four hours or more.

Cardinals 5, Cubs 0: Yadier Molina homered twice, Matt Carpenter hit a two-run shot and Adam Wainwright tossed seven shutout innings. The Cardinals figured out how to turn their slow start around and take over the Central: just act like it’s 2013 again. The World Series Champions are in fourth place.

Indians 8, Twins 3: Jason Kipnis has had a pretty tough go of it so far this year. Yesterday he was moved into the leadoff spot and went 4-for-5, hit a couple of homers and drove in four. Carlos Santana and Lonnie Chisenhall also homered as the Tribe snapped a three-game losing streak and avoided the sweep.

White Sox 9, Padres 3: Down 3-1 in the eighth, the White Sox put up an eight-spot. It came via bad defense and a bunch of walks by the Padres. Their manager, Andy Green, said this after the game: “That’s one of the ugliest half-innings I’ve ever seen in baseball; especially at the major league level. There’s no excuse for so many things that happened that inning.” I bet that was a long-ass fight from Chicago back to San Diego for the Padres.

Brewers 11, Mets 9: Manny Pina hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to put the cherry on the top of the Brewers’ comeback from six down. Then all the Mets fans I follow on Twitter started melting down and calling for Terry Collins’ head, as if it were his fault. Mets are a second place team right now, but that ain’t saying much in the NL East.

Royals 9, Orioles 8: The sweep. Mike Moustakas homered and drove in four. Jorge Soler and Drew Butera also homered, with Soler’s going 464-feet. The Royals have won four in a row and six of seven.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: Lots of rallies on Sunday. Here the Rangers were down 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh when they rallied for three with Nomar Mazara hitting a tiebreaking RBI single. He did the same thing in the seventh inning on Saturday too. The Rangers have won six in a row. It hasn’t been easy to win those, though, with the last five wins being come-from-behind jobs.

Angels 4, Tigers 1: Mike Trout missed a couple of games with a hamstring, came back and has homered in each of the last three. Just a dang machine. Alex Meyer, the super tall project who has bounced around a lot as various clubs have tried to capture whatever Randy Johnson lighting there may exist in that bottle of his, allowed one run while pitching into the seventh. In this he outdueled Justin Verlander who walked five guys in six innings.

Giants 8, Reds 3: The Giants win their third game in a row for the first time all year. Brandon Belt hit his third home run in four games. Jeff Samardzija finally won his first game of the year.

Pirates 6, Diamondbacks 4: Jose Osuna broke a 10th inning tie with a two-run homer. In the bottom half the Dbacks threatened, loading the bases, but Tony Watson got out of the jam of his own creation. One of the Dbacks who helped load the bases was A.J. Pollock, who singled, but he injured his right groin running up the baseline and had to come out of the game. That’s certainly bad news as he’s no stranger to groin injuries. Paul Goldschmidt hit two homers in a losing cause.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: Nationals 6, Phillies 5:  In the first game Washington had a 3-1 lead in the ninth only to watch Shawn Kelley give up a leadoff homer to Aaron Altherr followed by two doubles which tied the game. Dusty finally yanked him after he issued a walk. Koda Glover then game in and gave up the go-ahead and winning single to Ty Kelly. If only someone had woken Dusty up from his nap earlier that inning may not have gotten so out of hand. In the nightcap, Michael Taylor hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth. Washington needed the go-ahead homer because their bullpen blew the lead Max Scherzer had staked them to. Scherzer, by the way, took a 100 m.p.h. line drive off his knee earlier in the game and writhed in pain on the ground, only to stay in and keep pitching. Tough stuff, that one.

Yankees 11, Astros 6; Astros 10, Yankees 7:  In the day game the Astros led 3-1 and 6-4, but the Yankees rallied with a six-run seventh inning capped by a Chase Headley bases-loaded triple. Aaron Judge hit his 14th homer earlier. He leads the bigs in big flies. As for the nightcap, it was ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, on Derek Jeter Day and, at least early on, it looked to be a blowout. I didn’t watch the game itself, but given those variables, I have to imagine that the number of comments made by Shulman, Boone and Mendoza about the actual game, as opposed to Jeter stuff, was in the single digits. Never watch nationally-televised baseball before October, you guys. Stay local, where games are still, mostly, just games. In any event, the Yankees did make something of a game of it later, but Houston’s first inning 6-0 lead, thanks to homers by George Springer, Josh Reddick and Alex Bregman was too much to spot a good team.

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.