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And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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

Cubs 17, Phillies 2: Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Rhys Hoskins lit up another Cubs pitcher for another home run that extended his rookie home record for yet another day. This time, he victimized Kyle Hendricks with a two-run shot in the first inning, collecting his 10th home run in just 17 games.

Unfortunately for the Phillies, that was all they were able to muster against Hendricks and a scorching Cubs’ offense. The Cubs rode Drew Anderson and Jesen Therrien for seven runs in the seventh, building to a season-best 17-run spread that culminated with another two homers and four runs in the ninth.

Yankees 6, Mariners 3: The Mariners missed an opportunity to slide into the second wild card spot on Saturday, coming up empty-handed against Sonny Gray in seven innings of one-run ball. Kyle Seager and Guillermo Heredia rallied in the eighth, but couldn’t quite close the door against a less-forgiving Dellin Betances in the ninth.

Blue Jays 10, Twins 9: Max “Papa Slam” Kepler did all he could for the Twins during Saturday’s nail-biter, and it still wasn’t enough. The outfielder muscled a grand slam in the eighth inning, bringing the Twins within one run of tying the game.

That narrow lead vanished with the Blue Jays’ two-run response in the bottom of the inning, however, and even a Brian “Doz” Dozier RBI single and run-scoring double play from Joe “Mauer” Mauer wasn’t enough to topple their AL rivals.

Orioles 7, Red Sox 0: Kevin Gausman posted his first shutout of the month, holding the Red Sox scoreless through 7 2/3 while home runs from Tim Beckham and Jonathan Schoop highlighted the offense’s seven-run effort. While this hasn’t been Gausman’s finest season by a long shot, he’s looked marginally better in the second half, lowering his ERA to 4.02 and lighting up batters at a clip of 10.0 SO/9.

Nationals 9, Mets 4: The Nationals would like to hand off a three-game winning streak to Max Scherzer on Monday. That’s still up in the air, at least for now, but with a strong performance from Gio “Double G” Gonzalez and a nine-run rebound on Saturday, they’re heading in the right direction. The Nats didn’t score on a single extra-base hit against the Mets’ Robert Gsellman, building their five-run lead on a smattering of singles and productive outs to stay a comfortable 12.5 games above the second-place Marlins in the NL East.

Athletics 8, Rangers 3: The Rangers picked up right-handed journeyman reliever Paolo Espino on Saturday, which looked like a prudent move on their part after another of their right-handers imploded against the A’s earlier in the day. Granted, Tony Barnette‘s two-run flub was the final nail in the coffin following a similarly disastrous outing from Cole Hamels, who led the club to their second straight loss by giving up six runs on nine hits and three walks. Chad Pinder collected two home runs and Jed Lowrie reached 40 doubles (five shy of his career-best single-season total) to boost the A’s to a 57-72 record.

Pirates 1, Reds 0: This wasn’t your run-of-the-mill shutout, if such things even exist. Gerrit Cole turned in his 11th win of the year and arguably his best start, too, flashing six strikeouts and five hits over seven innings. He made his solo home run look equally as effortless, launching a 95-MPH heater off of Welington Castillo in the sixth inning and setting a new franchise record:

Indians 4, Royals 0: Jason Hammel took a perfect game into the sixth inning on Saturday, but finally met his match in Bradley Zimmer, whose stunning fifth-inning grab and perfecto-snapping single helped lock down the Indians’ third consecutive win.

Edwin Encarnacion also helped the Indians’ winning streak with a seventh-inning home run, his 30th of the year. The slugger now owns 30+ home runs in each of his past six seasons.

Tigers 6, White Sox 3: Like the rest of those suspended over Thursday’s Tigers-Yankees brawl, Miguel Cabrera is waiting for a ruling on his appeal. In the meantime, he’s still eligible to play, and made the most of his time on Saturday after going 3-for-4 with a solo home run in the third.

In related news, it looks like there might be additional repercussions from Thursday’s incidents. Nicholas Castellanos reported a ligament sprain in his left wrist following the fracas, though he couldn’t tell reporters exactly how he sustained the injury or give a definite timetable for his return to the field. He’s expected to have it checked out before resuming his post at third base and, in a best-case scenario, will rejoin the team for Sunday’s finale in Chicago.

Cardinals 6, Rays 4: Tommy “T. Pham” Pham played the hero on Saturday night, clubbing a walk-off 419-footer after the Cardinals stunned the Rays with a four-run comeback to take the lead — and the game.

The win went to Tyler Lyons, who combined with John Brebbia for two shutout innings following Mike Leake‘s four-run, three-homer appearance.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 1: Madison Bumgarner stymied the Diamondbacks with seven beautiful innings of two-run ball, which proved too great a task for the Giants’ offense as they dropped their 20th one-run loss of the year. Taijuan Walker, whose 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball were rewarded by a pair of homers from A.J. Pollock and J.D. Martinez, improved to 7-7 on the year as the D-backs cruised to a 1.5-game lead in the wild card standings. In other words, just your standard Giants/Diamondbacks 2017 matchup.

Marlins 2, Padres 1 (11 innings): Both the Marlins’ Odrisamer Despaigne and Padres’ Dinelson Lamet played hard to get on Saturday, allowing a collective two runs and six strikeouts over the first six innings. Cory Spangenberg stole home to put the Padres on the board, while Marcell Ozuna grabbed hold of his 31st home run of the season to knot the game 1-1. Miguel Rojas plated the deciding run in the 11th inning, scoring Derek Dietrich on a sac fly for the Marlins’ walk-off win and their sixth victory in seven games.

Amid all the hubbub, Ichiro Suzuki and his lone pinch-hit single made franchise history, too:

Rockies 7, Braves 6: The Rockies still need another 1.5 games to catch the Diamondbacks for the first NL wild card spot, and they made a good-faith effort to close the gap with a late rally against the Braves. Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMahieu stepped up in the ninth, smashing a pair of home runs to give the Rockies a much-needed three-run lead.

Things got too close for comfort in the bottom of the inning with Matt Adamstwo-run shot, but it took Jake McGee just one Brandon Phillips double play to polish off the win.

Brewers 3, Dodgers 0: Clayton Kershaw‘s return can’t come soon enough. The Dodgers’ ace lasted five innings in his Triple-A rehab start on Saturday, issuing one run and eight strikeouts as he continued to work back from a back injury. Things didn’t go nearly as well for his big league teammates, who were felled in a five-hit shutout by Zach Davies and an airtight Milwaukee bullpen.

Angels 7, Astros 6: It’s never too early or too late in the season to be reminded of this helpful PSA:

Of course, it’s much easier to weather a 40-minute delay and five-run deficit if you can be assured of an Andrelton Simmons three-run, go-ahead home run for your troubles.

If 2020 season is cancelled, which teams would be hurt the most?

Mookie Betts
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently expressed his optimistic outlook, saying that he hoped the league would begin “gearing back up” in May. That would put a regular season return potentially at the end of June or at some point in July. He expressed that the league may have to get creative, likely referring to ideas like playing doubleheaders, extending the season deep into fall, and playing some games at neutral parks in warm-weather areas.

Manfred isn’t the only one champing at the bit for a return to normalcy. President Trump recently said he wanted to “open” the economy back up by Easter, meaning that our social isolation plan could be done in two weeks. And, frankly, I’m sure many of us are starting to become a little stir-crazy as we attempt to flatten the curve.

It’s hard to imagine life returning to normal when Coronavirus (COVID-19) is really starting to spread in the United States. It would be ill-advised for us to go back to business as usual. This is a time when we need to put other interests ahead of business interests. Frankly, there’s a very real possibility that there is no MLB season in 2020. Or, at the very least, there may be a point when Manfred has to choose between starting a season or protecting the health of the players and coaches, journalists, fans, and all of the many people that would interact with them and potentially become vectors for the virus.

In the event the 2020 season is cancelled, which teams stand to lose the most? Let’s take a look at some contenders.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The most obvious of the bunch. The club swung a deal with the Red Sox a month and a half ago to acquire the 2018 AL MVP along with David Price in exchange for Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. Betts was a huge upgrade to an already potent Dodger roster, one which won 106 games during the regular season last year.

Betts, however, is a free agent after the 2020 season. MLB owners and the MLBPA reached an agreement last week stating that, if there is no season, players would still get credit for a full year of service time. If the season is canceled, the Dodgers very well may have given up three good young players and taken on a lot of salary for basically nothing. They’ll get to keep Price, who is under contract for two more years after this, but that’s no consolation.

The Dodgers also have some other important players potentially hitting free agency after the 2020 season: Justin Turner, Kiké Hernández, Joc Pederson, and Pedro Báez.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds had a better 2019 campaign than their 75-87 record indicated. They finished in fifth place from 2015-18 before last year’s fourth place finish. The club acquired Sonny Gray from the Yankees before the season and picked up Trevor Bauer from the Indians at the trade deadline. Eugenio Suárez, Aristides Aquino, and Michael Lorenzen were among a handful of players who shone brightly as well.

As a result of a roster on the come-up, the Reds bolstered the roster even more, picking up free agents Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. The Reds signed both players to four-year deals, so they will still be around when baseball eventually resumes, even if it’s next year, but Moustakas will be 32 and Castellanos will be 29. It’s a pretty big deal to miss 25 percent of their contracts in what are, on average, the seasons likeliest to be their best.

Bauer, by the way, can become a free agent after the season. That’s a pretty big deal, too.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies were supposed to be competitive last year, but they fell a bit flat, finishing exactly at .500 with an 81-81 record. GM Matt Klentak continued to bolster the roster a year after inking Bryce Harper to what was then the richest contract in baseball history (13 years, $330 million). This past offseason, he signed Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal. They also added Didi Gregorius on a one-year deal.

This is a team meant to be an NL East contender in 2020, to finally reach the postseason which it hasn’t done since 2011. If the season is cancelled, that’s one very valuable year out of its window completely gone. That is even more the case upon realizing that catcher J.T. Realmuto, arguably the best player at his position in baseball right now, is a free agent going into 2021. The two sides have discussed a contract extension, but that was tabled as of two weeks ago.

The Phillies haven’t had stability at the catcher position since Carlos Ruiz in the early- to mid-2010’s. They do have some catchers among their top-30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, in Deivy Grullon, Rafael Marchan, and Rodolfo Duran, but none of them are J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto is a guy you want to keep around if possible, especially considering the scarcity of his caliber of talent at that position.

. . .

This is a partial list, so this is not to say that teams omitted would not suffer at all from a lost season. You can see the factors that determine whether or not a team has a lot at stake this year: splashy trades, free agent signings, stars potentially becoming free agents after the season, etc.

In general, every team would be devastated by a lost season not just due to the lost development time or the loss of an attempt to win a championship, but because of lost revenues. This is going to have a ripple effect through the baseball economy. Teams will likely become less active in the free agent market, to name one of many potential effects.