And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Rangers 6, Nationals 3 (11 innings): Bryce Harper has more to offer than MVP-caliber home runs and deceptive batting helmet throws. He can also catch a mean line drive and throw out a runner with laser-like precision, as evidenced by this ninth-inning play during Saturday’s loss:

Unfortunately for the Nats, that wasn’t enough to keep the Rangers at bay. Nomar Mazara‘s two-run double tied the game in the ninth, followed by a game-winning homer from Robinson Chirinos in the 11th.

Mets 6, Braves 1 (Game 1): All eyes were on Yoenis Cespedes on Saturday. The outfielder slotted into the lineup for Game 1 of the Mets’ doubleheader, marking his first appearance since landing on the disabled list with hamstring and quad injuries in April. The Mets couldn’t have scripted his return better: in the ninth inning, with one out and the bases loaded, Cespedes cleaned house with his first grand slam of the year.

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Mets 8, Braves 1 (Game 2): The Mets didn’t lose any steam in their second game of the day, overpowering Atlanta starter Matt Wisler in the fifth inning and rallying for a seven-run lead through nine innings. Steven Matz took the mound for his season debut, tossing a full seven innings of one-run, two-strikeout ball en route to the Mets’ second consecutive win.

Rays 6, Athletics 5 (Game 1, 10 innings): Even a 10-strikeout outing from Sonny Gray wasn’t enough to stifle the Rays’ offensive drive during Saturday’s doubleheader. Gray faltered in the fourth inning, allowing Steven Souza Jr. a two-run single and opening the door for the Rays’ three-run rally in the sixth. Ryon Healy sent the game to extras with an RBI double in the ninth, but the A’s couldn’t quite close the deal, surrendering a walk-off base hit to Evan Longoria after 10 innings.

Athletics 7, Rays 2 (Game 2): Something finally clicked for the A’s during the second set of their doubleheader. Sean Manaea fired seven strong innings, issuing two runs on six hits and two walks and striking out five of 28 batters. In the seventh inning, home runs from Josh Phegley and Chad Pinder allowed them to pull well ahead of the Rays with a three-run outburst. No one was more impactful than Yonder Alonso, however, who totaled seven hits between the two games and became the third Athletics player to tally at least three hits in both games of a doubleheader.

Cardinals 7, Phillies 0: Five years and 152 games into his major league career, Carlos Martinez finally recorded his first complete game. The right-hander crafted eight shutout innings on three hits, a walk and nine strikeouts before he asked manager Mike Matheny’s permission to finish off the ninth inning. According to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch, Matheny allowed him 15 pitches. He needed just 14, striking out Aaron Altherr and Howie Kendrick, giving up a single to Tommy Joseph and inducing a shutout-clinching groundout from Maikel Franco.

Even more impressive? Martinez completed the nine-inning shutout after taking an 87.7 MPH pitch to his throwing hand in the seventh.

Rockies 9, Cubs 1: The Rockies cruised to their seventh consecutive win this weekend and have now won eight of their first nine games in June. At least part of that success can be chalked up to manager Bud Black’s approach to statistics and in-game strategy, some of which he outlined for the media on Saturday. On the field, the win was highlighted by a solid performance by Mark Reynolds, who went 4-for-5 with a pair of base hits, RBI double and a home run that cleared the perimeter of Wrigley Field:

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The Cubs took their fourth straight loss, but at least deserved honorable mention for the best pregame dance party:

Pirates 7, Marlins 6: The Marlins jumped out to an early lead on Saturday afternoon, working a pair of RBI doubles for a three-run lead in the first inning. That didn’t alleviate the pain of losing Giancarlo Stanton, however, who exited after taking a 95.3 MPH pitch to his right hand:

Neither Dan Straily nor Trevor Williams made it past the fourth inning, leaving both bullpens to corral two hot-hitting offenses. Tied 6-6 in the seventh, John Jaso produced the go-ahead run with a ground-rule double to the right field corner. Better than winning (at least for the Marlins) was the news that Stanton’s X-ray results were negative. Miami’s top slugger should be good to go after dealing with residual swelling and soreness from the hit by pitch.

Twins 3, Giants 2: Brian Dozier put up the game-winning shot with his go-ahead, two-RBI home run in the fifth inning, but it was Kenny Vargas who stole the spotlight on Saturday. His 471-foot, 116 MPH blast off of the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija was both the Twins’ longest and hardest-hit home run in the Statcast era.

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Royals 12, Padres 6: Beating a last-place team may not come with the same bragging rights as beating one of the best, but there was plenty for the Royals to be proud of following their win on Saturday. They erupted for five home runs against the Padres, including a solo homer and grand slam from Lorenzo Cain, Alcides Escobar‘s first home run of the year and Salvador Perez‘s 100th career blast.

Astros 3, Angels 1: The Astros aren’t ready to relinquish their hold on the AL West title just yet. Right-hander Mike Fiers dominated the Angels on Saturday, striking out eight batters and allowing one run en route to his fourth win of the year. While he’s averaging 5.57 runs of support per outing, he needed just three to get through the game: a solo home run from Brian McCann, sac fly from Yuli Gurriel and RBI single from Carlos Correa.

White Sox 5, Indians 3: What happens when the league’s best pitching staff meets an immoveable force? For starters, that immoveable force goes 30 at-bats without a single strikeout. The White Sox strung 30 consecutive at-bats without whiffing once — 35 straight at-bats dating back through Friday’s match-up with the Indians — then lost their streak when Avisail Garcia went down swinging on seven pitches from Cleveland right-hander Zach McAllister in the seventh inning.

Red Sox 11, Tigers 3: What was billed as an epic pitcher’s duel between Chris Sale and Justin Verlander turned into a veritable hit parade. Behind Sale’s three-run, seven-strikeout performance, the Red Sox mounted an epic eight-run rally in the seventh and eighth innings, starting with Mitch Moreland’s two-run double and ending on a sac fly from Sandy Leon.

Verlander, on the other hand, would have preferred a few more swings-and-misses:

Yankees 16, Orioles 3: If it feels like the Yankees have been hitting well lately, well, they have. They’re sporting 98 home runs on the season, five of which came against the Orioles on Saturday. Aaron Judge drilled a 121.1 MPH home run, effectively breaking Statcast, while Didi Gregorius netted his sixth of the season and Starlin Castro and Matt Holliday each tacked on a three-RBI homer. Gary Sanchez added his name to the list in the eighth inning, mashing his ninth home run and tying Justin Smoak for the lowest home run hit in 2017 (h/t MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch).

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Blue Jays 4, Mariners 2: Plenty of former Mariners scored on Saturday night — including Kendrys Morales’ two-RBI home run in the fourth and Justin Smoak’s solo shot in the ninth — but the current Mariners came up short with just two runs off of Blue Jays’ starter Marcus Stroman.

Diamondbacks 3, Brewers 2: The Brewers couldn’t pull off a win on Saturday, but that wasn’t for lack of effort from lefty reliever Luke Hader. Hader made his Major League debut to the tune of two walks and a strikeout in his first inning, preventing the Diamondbacks from building on a one-run lead in the seventh and earning looks for his three-pitch strikeout of Jake Lamb and some familiar-looking locks:

Dodgers 5, Reds 4: The Dodgers scooted within three games of the division lead with a win that was bookended by RBI doubles from Corey Seager. Seager put the Dodgers on the board in the first inning, lining an RBI double off of Reds’ starter Asher Wojciechowski. He reserved his next RBI double for the ninth inning, snapping a 4-4 tie for his first career walk-off hit.

Yankees star Judge hits 62nd homer to break Maris’ AL record

New York Yankees v Texas Rangers - Game Two
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Aaron Judge hit his 62nd home run of the season Tuesday night, breaking Roger Maris’ American League record and setting what some fans consider baseball’s “clean” standard.

The 30-year-old Yankees slugger drove a 1-1 slider from Texas right-hander Jesus Tinoco into the first couple of rows of seats in left field when leading off the second game of New York’s day-night doubleheader.

Maris’ 61 for the Yankees in 1961 had been exceeded six times previously, but all were tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year. Barry Bonds hit an MLB-record 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001, and the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa had 66, 65 and 63 during a four-season span starting in 1998.

McGwire admitted using banned steroids, while Bonds and Sosa denied knowingly using performing-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball started testing with penalties for PEDs in 2004, and some fans – perhaps many – until now have considered Maris as holder of the legitimate record.

A Ruthian figure with a smile as outsized as his body, the 6-foot-7 Judge has rocked the major leagues with a series of deep drives that hearken to the sepia tone movie reels of his legendary pinstriped predecessors.

“He should be revered for being the actual single-season home run champ,” Roger Maris Jr. said Wednesday night after his father’s mark was matched by Judge. “I think baseball needs to look at the records and I think baseball should do something.”

Judge had homered only once in the past 13 games, and that was when he hit No. 61 last Wednesday in Toronto. The doubleheader nightcap in Texas was his 55th game in row played since Aug. 5.

After a single in five at-bats in the first game Tuesday, Judge was 3 for 17 with five walks and a hit by pitch since moving past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league record for 34 years. Maris hit his 61st off Boston’s Tracy Stallard at old Yankee Stadium on Oct. 1, 1961.

Judge has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012. He leads the AL with 131 RBIs and began the day trailing Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who was hitting .315.

The home run in his first at-bat put him back to .311, where he had started the day before dropping a point in the opener.

Judge’s accomplishment will cause endless debate.

“To me, the holder of the record for home runs in a season is Roger Maris,” author George Will said earlier this month. “There’s no hint of suspicion that we’re seeing better baseball than better chemistry in the case of Judge. He’s clean. He’s not doing something that forces other players to jeopardize their health.”