Getty Images

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

19 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 10, Padres 3: Cincy was down 3-2 in the seventh when Scooter Gennett smacked a grand slam followed immediately by a Eugenio Suarez solo shot and that pretty much ended that. Zack Cozart and Joey Votto would add bombs in the eighth inning to add insult to injury.

Pirates 7, Tigers 5: Josh Bell hit his 20th homer of the year and drove in three. Gerrit Cole three runs on six hits in eight innings, his longest outing of the year. Detroit has lost five of six.

Nationals 3, Marlins 2: It was tied at two in the eighth when Brian Goodwin hit a long solo shot. Then, in the ninth, with the Marlins threatening, Dee Gordon hit a ball down the left field line that looked like it’d be trouble. Andrew Stevenson said “no problem” and ended the game with this nice catch:

Mets 10, Phillies 0: The Mets smacked four homers and Jacob deGrom tossed shutout ball into the seventh inning before being forced to leave when he was hit on the arm by a comebacker. Wilmer Flores and Michael Conforto had three run blasts, Curtis Granderson hit a two-run shot and Wilmer Flores had a solo dong. Thank God there weren’t more homers. I’m running out of home run slang.

Blue Jays 4, Yankees 0: Marco Estrada tossed seven shutout innings, winning his first game in 13 starts. Ryan Tepera worked the eighth and Roberto Osuna closed the six-hitter out.

Rays 4, Indians 1: Chris Dickerson was 0-for his last 21 when he came to bat with two men on in the eighth. He broke that slump with a three-run homer that gave the Rays the win. They scored four runs here. They had scored only four runs in their previous five games.

Cardinals 8, Royals 6: That’s six wins in a row for St. Louis, this one powered by a Dexter Fowler grand slam in the seventh that broke a 3-3 tie. The Royals clawed back for three more runs in the eighth to make it close but the Cards held on. Fowler on his big blast: “Just looking for something to hit, something to drive.” And people ask me why I don’t cover more games in person.

White Sox 3, Astros 2: The American League’s best team gets swept by the American League’s worst team. Rookie Yoan Moncada homered to tie the game in the ninth and then walked it off with a single in the bottom of the 11th. Astros closer Ken Giles, who gave up that ninth inning homer: “I have to tip my cap to him. He put a good swing on it and drove it the other way.” Again, the level of original insight and comment being shared in these clubhouses after the game is staggering.

Twins 7, Brewers 2: That’s the fifth straight win for the Twins and the fifth straight loss for the Brewers, who have fallen into third place in the NL Central. Byron Buxton and Joe Mauer each had three singles as the Twins put up a three-spot in both the second and third innings. Keon Broxton homered in a losing cause.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 6: Yu Darvish struck out ten in five innings of work and enjoyed plenty of (needed) run support. The Dodgers take two of three. They have not lost a series since June 5-7, winning or tying 18 straight. Kiké Hernandez drove in three and Justin Turner drove in two.

Orioles 7, Athletics 2: Trey Mancini hit two homers, both solo shots, and Adam Jones and Mark Trumbo added ones of their own. Tim Beckham had two hits, including a triple. That gives him a hit in all ten games since he was acquired from the Rays. Some thought the former number one pick simply needed a change of scenery. I guess so. Meanwhile, Wade Miley allowed only one unearned run in seven innings, allowing only three hits and striking out seven. The Orioles have won nine of 13.

Angels 6, Mariners 3: Mike Trout hit a three-run double with two outs in the ninth inning of a game the Mariners had just tied with a three-run eighth. Even worse for the Mariners: ace James Paxton had to leave the game in the seventh with a strained pectoral muscle. He’ll have an MRI today, but you have to assume he’s going to miss a start or three, and that’s not going to be great for the M’s, who are in the thick of the Wild Card race.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

Getty Images
7 Comments

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.