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And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Nationals 4, Cubs 2: The Nationals have to be pretty pleased with their trade deadline acquisitions after Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Madson and Sean Doolittle helped secure a win over the Cubs on Friday. The club’s new relievers combined for 2 2/3 scoreless frames, quashing the Cubs’ seventh-inning rally and preserving a narrow lead to give the Nats a 13-game advantage in the NL East.

Reds 3, Cardinals 2: Down 1-0 in the third inning, Greg Garcia skied a 3-2 heater from Asher Wojciechowski to deep right field that ricocheted off the top of the wall and back into the outfield. Garcia hustled to third base, prompting a crew chief review to determine whether a) the ball had been affected by a fan beyond the perimeter of the field for a home run, or b) the ball only touched the top of the fence, upholding Garcia’s triple.

In the end, the details didn’t matter too much. Mike Leake plated Garcia on an RBI single for the Cardinals’ first run of the day, and Joey Votto‘s fifth-inning RBI single gave the Reds the one-run lead they needed to clinch their 45th win of the year.

Tigers 5, Orioles 2: Justin Verlander cleared revocable waivers on Friday, and while it might take a while to find a suitor for the remaining $60 million owed on his seven-year contract, his decisive win against the Orioles only boosted his trade value. The righty shut down the Orioles on seven innings of 10-strikeout, two-run ball, setting down his seventh win of the year while the Tigers exploded in the eighth inning to give their ace a three-run cushion.

Pirates 10, Padres 6: A two-hour, five-minute rain delay did little to dampen the Pirates’ spirits — or their bats. In the seventh inning, down 6-4, Andrew McCutchen laced a single off of Kirby Yates, followed by a David Freese double and Gregory Polanco‘s pinch-hit, three-RBI home run:

The go-ahead homer was supplemented by another three runs, putting the Bucs ahead 10-6 by the end of the seventh and giving their bullpen enough of a cushion to coast to a win in the wee hours of the morning. Following the game, Polanco dedicated his first career pinch-hit blast to his nephew Ismael:

Dodgers 6, Mets 0: It’s been just five days since Yu Darvish donned a Dodgers jersey, and he’s already breaking records and dazzling National League competition. He posted seven shutout innings in his Dodgers’ debut on Friday, becoming the first L.A. pitcher to debut with 10 strikeouts since Kazuhisa Ishii whiffed 10 batters back in 2002. The win, Darvish’s seventh of the season, snapped a worrying streak of eight winless starts for the right-hander, including a messy 10-run affair against the Marlins last week.

Brewers 2, Rays 0: Nothing was going to spoil Brandon Woodruff’s pristine Major League debut: not a bases-loaded threat in the first inning, not a bases-loaded threat in the second inning, not Travis Shaw‘s defensive miscues, not even Jose Alvarado’s immaculate inning. The rookie right-hander worked in and out of trouble during Friday’s series opener, scattering seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

Indians 7, Yankees 2: Two pivotal plays at the plate helped determine the outcome of Friday’s game: one, a second-inning snafu that cost the Yankees a run on Gary Sanchez‘s 12th passed ball of the season, the other, a run-saving gem from Giovanny Urshela that caught Ronald Torreyes at the plate.

Sanchez wasn’t the only culprit in the Yankees’ fourth straight loss — a wild pitch from Chad Green also handed the Indians a run, and the Yankees’ offense couldn’t find a toehold against Trevor Bauer — but he incurred some strong words from manager Joe Girardi following the game.

“He needs to improve. Bottom line. He needs to improve,” the skipper told reporters. “He’s late getting down. That’s what I see sometimes. It’s something we’ve been working on. We need to continue to work on it.”

Red Sox 3, White Sox 2 (11 innings): The Red Sox delivered John Farrell’s 400th career win in epic fashion on Friday night:

It was the team’s 10th win in extras this season and their third straight win of any variety this month. Eduardo Rodriguez was matched pace-for-pace by Carlos Rodon, who fired 11 strikeouts in a losing effort, but found the edge he needed with Mitch Moreland‘s timely blast in the 11th.

Braves 5, Marlins 3: Are you tired of home runs? League-leading, record-breaking blasts? Giancarlo Stanton bombs? No?

Stanton’s mammoth 477-footer stands as the longest home run in SunTrust Park history — a history that only dates back through Opening Day 2017, but still a fun record for competitors to clear in the months to come.

Twins 8, Rangers 4: Bartolo Colon set a number of cool records with his first complete game win for the Twins, becoming the oldest pitcher since 2010 to record the feat. After allowing a ninth-inning solo shot to Carlos Gomez, however, he also set one not-quite-so-cool record:

Astros 16, Blue Jays 7: It’s been a minute since the Astros showed their American League competitors what they’re really capable of. On Friday, they executed their fifth win of the season with 16+ runs, clubbing five home runs and chasing Cesar Valdez out of the game with a nine-run spread in the fourth inning. While the win was the very definition of a group effort, first baseman Tyler White stood out, going 4-for-5 with his first two homers of the year and single-handedly driving in five runs.

Mariners 5, Royals 2: James Paxton is the real deal. The Mariners’ lefty dealt his seventh straight win, tying both Scott Bankhead (1989) and Jamie Moyer (2003) for a franchise-best streak as Seattle topped Kansas City. He issued two runs and seven strikeouts in his 12th win of the year, improving to a 2.70 ERA and positioning himself for a legitimate run at the ERA title.

Things weren’t so sweet for the Royals, whose loss was punctuated with a troublesome injury to Salvador Perez after the catcher appeared to hurt his right side on a strikeout in the sixth.

Rockies 4, Phillies 3: Kyle Freeland lobbed just 11 pitches before something felt off. The rookie southpaw made an early exit after sustaining a left groin strain as he crouched to avoid Jonathan Lucroy‘s pickoff throw to second base. It’s an untimely departure for Freeland, whose standout performance has bolstered the Rockies through their campaign for a wild card berth. While the club doesn’t know how long they’ll be without their rookie ERA leader, they were able to rebound against the Phillies on Friday, taking the one-run nail-biter with DJ LeMahieu‘s clutch RBI single in the eighth inning.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1: Now this is the kind of impression Anthony Banda wanted to make in the majors. The rookie left-hander got off to a rough start in his debut against the Nationals last month, but recovered to stun the Giants in his second start with six innings of one-run ball for his first big league win. The Giants, meanwhile, not only dropped their 69th game of the year, but lost first baseman Brandon Belt to the concussion DL after he was felled by Banda’s curveball in the sixth.

Angels 8, Athletics 6: There may be no hope of overtaking the Astros this late in the season, but the Angels kept their wild card hopes alive with another decisive win this weekend. The A’s did their part to support their rivals, supplementing the Angels’ eight-run drive with five walks and a pair of errors in the second inning. Their seventh run, an infield single off the bat of Yunel Escobar, also marked the third baseman’s 1,500th career hit:

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.