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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Happy Birthday, America.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 8, Orioles 1: Chase Anderson went to the DL and Brent Suter took his place in the rotation. The former is not ideal but the latter worked out OK here, as Suter allowed only one unearned run on four hits in six innings, striking out eight. Manny Pina singled in one and doubled in two. Travis Shaw homered but he had to leave the game after getting hit on the wrist with a pitch.

Nationals 3, Mets 2: Steven Strasburg tossed seven shutout innings, allowing only two hits. After Max Scherzer‘s dominant start on Sunday, one can’t help but envision an early 2-0 hole for any team unlucky enough to face Washington in the playoffs. Of course, that irresistible force will have to meet the unmovable object that is the Nats’ inability to win a playoff series, so I guess we’ll see. If they do blow a series lead it’ll be because of the bullpen, which blew yet another ninth inning lead here, allowing a Curtis Granderson homer to tie it up. Ryan Raburn bailed the Nats out, however, by delivering a walkoff RBI single.

Yankees 6, Blue Jays 3: Masahiro Tanaka was dominant for seven innings. Chase Headley drove in three, with two coming on a double and one coming via a bases loaded hit-by-pitch. New York had a run walked in with the bases loaded in the same inning. Things were all beer and Skittles for the Yankees until the ninth when Aroldis Chapman allowed two runs on three hits in a non-save situation.

Phillies 4, Pirates 0: Nola beats Nova, with Aaron tossing seven shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out eight while Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco each hit two-run homers off of Ivan.

Cardinals 14, Marlins 6: Luke Voit, which sounds like a name you make up on the spot when the cops catch you breaking into a sporting goods store, hit a homer as the Cardinals romped. Miami starter Jeff Locke gave up 11 hits and 11 earned runs in two and two-thirds innings of work. Which made it OK that Cardinals starter Adam Wainwright gave up six runs in the fifth inning. Wainwright also drove in two with an RBI single, so we’ll take a couple of those off his tab.

Red Sox 7, Rangers 5: The Red Sox had a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth and Craig Kimbrel on the mound. That’s usually automatic, but here Mike Napoli took him deep to send this one to extras. Andrew Benintendi hit a single with the bases loaded, driving in two, in the top of the 11th inning, helping the Sox to their fifth straight win. Dustin Pedroia had three hits and four RBI and was intentionally walked to bring up Benintendi. That loaded the bases and caused the Rangers to play their infield in, which in turn allowed Benintendi’s bloop hit to fall, just beyond the infield dirt. Strategy, man. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Twins 9, Angels 5Max Kepler knocked four hits, including a home run, driving in three. Adalberto Mejia allowed three runs over seven innings of work. Joe Mauer went 2-for-4 with a homer. Also, this happened:

Nice to see Rod Carew back on his feet again. The Twins and Angels legend had a heart and kidney transplant back in December.

Rockies 5, Reds 3: Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia hit a double, triple and homer on a 3-for-4 day and Jeff Hoffman allowed three runs over seven innings. Hoffman also doubled in Tapia in the second inning. Those two had it covered yesterday. Bud Black on Tapia’s night:

“Stand-up triple . Stand-up double. Stand-up homer. Tonight was `Tap Time.”

That sounds like I sound when I’m intentionally trying to embarrass my kids. The rookie Tapia probably rolled his eyes pretty hard. Or, like my kids did to me, set up an Instagram account specifically to make fun of Black.

White Sox 7, Athletics 2: Carlos Rodon struck out ten in six and a third innings of work in his second start of the season. Todd Frazier backed him with a two-run double that put the Chisox ahead to stay early in this one. Oakland has lost six in a row.

Royals 3, Mariners 1: Mike Moustakas and Alex Gordon each hit homers and Ian Kennedy allowed one run while pitching into the seventh.That was Moustakas’ 23rd homer of the season. His previous career high was 22, set in 2015.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.