And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Twins 7, Orioles 0: Unwritten Rules Alert!! Apparently it’s not cool to bunt to beat the shift in the ninth inning of a game when the pitcher is working on a shutout. Not a no-hitter, but a shutout. Whatever. Either write all of this down so we know when teams should stop trying to play baseball or else get over yourself, you babies. That aside, it was a wonderful day for the Twins and Jose Berrios, who did, indeed, toss a three-hit shutout. Brian Dozier hit two solo homers. Eduardo Escobar homered and doubled in a run.

Astros 8, Rangers 2: Gerrit Cole shined in his Astros debut, allowing one run over seven innings and striking out eleven. Even Gattis had a couple of RBI doubles and an RBI single on his 3-for-4, three-RBI day. The Astros did that four-man outfield thing against Joey Gallo again. In his first at-bat Gallo homered. Later in the game he hit a single through the vacant left side of the infield. No word if the Twins got all pissy about beating the shift that way too. Houston takes three of four from their in-state rivals to start the year.

Blue Jays 7, Yankees 4: Have yourself a day, Justin Smoak. The Jays’ first baseman hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning off of Tommy Kahnle and a go-ahead grand slam in the eighth off of David Robertson, bringing Toronto back from a 4-1 deficit against perhaps the best bullpen in baseball. Best part: they walked Josh Donaldson to load the bases to get to Smoak before that salami.

Mariners 5, Indians 4: My wife and I and a couple of friends were at our favorite Columbus dive bar early yesterday evening. It’s not, by any stretch of the imagination, a sports bar, but this game was on the old dusty TV bolted to the wall in the corner. Our plan had been to take over the jukebox with a bunch of Easter music — stuff like “I Am the Resurrection” by Stone Roses and “Jesus Built my Hot Rod” by Ministry — but the folks at the bar seemed like they’d be mad if someone drowned out the game with ironic crap from some wannabe hipsters. Then Dee Gordon and Mitch Haniger homered in the seventh to turn a 2-2 tie into a 5-2 Mariners lead, after which we felt it was OK to take over the jukebox. Legend has it that this particular bar is haunted which, if you’ve ever been in the basement of this place where the bathrooms are, would not surprise you in the least. I think the ghosts wanted us to play Stone Roses and crap and willed Dan Otero and Tyler Olson to throw meatballs to Gordon and Haniger.

Cardinals 5, Mets 1: Paul DeJong hit two DeBombs, both solo shots. Marcell Ozuna, who had started the season 0-for-his-first-9, had three hits, including an RBI double and an RBI single. Yadi Molina’s homer accounted for the rest of the St. Louis runs. Steven Matz struggled for the Mets. Matt Harvey pitches next. I feel like this season is gonna be “Syndergaard and deGrom and three days of gettin’ bombed” kind of year.

Red Sox 2, Rays 1: The Sox take three of four from the Rays to start the year. The Red Sox starters – Chris SaleDavid PriceRick Porcello and Hector Velazquez — combined to give up two runs over 24 innings of work. Here Velazquez allowed only one run over five and two-thirds.

Marlins 6, Cubs 0: Both starters went six innings and allowed six hits. Dillion Peters of the Marlins shut the Cubs out, though, while Jose Quintana allowed six runs. Miami’s damage was done by a couple of RBI singles and a three-run double by Brian Anderson in the Marlins’ five-run fifth and a wild pitch by Quintana an inning later. It wasn’t necessarily a pretty weekend for the Marlins, but earning an opening series split against the Chicago Cubs ain’t too bad.

Pirates 1, Tigers 0; Pirates 8, Tigers 6: Game 1 consisted of a first inning RBI double by Gregory Polanco and then nothin’ but zeroes the rest of the way from Trevor Williams and Michael Fulmer. The nightcap had a bit more action — Pittsburgh got homers from Josh HarrisonStarling Marte and David Freese — but the same result. Pirates reliever Felipe Rivero — whose ninth inning collapse on Friday afternoon led to a 13-inning game — closed both games here with a save. The first game’s attendance — 14,858 — was the lowest paid gate for Detroit in almost 12 years.

Angels 7, Athletics 4: Shohei Ohtani made his debut as a pitcher and did a pretty spiffy job, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk with six strikeouts over six innings. All three runs came on Matt Chapman‘s three-run home run in the bottom of the second. His fastball averaged 98. He touched 100 three times and 99 nine times. I guess he was using spring training for, you know, training.

Nationals 6, Reds 5: Bryce Harper hit a solo homer in the sixth inning. Then, in the ninth, a Cincinnati fan yelled  “overrated!” at Harper, immediately after which he smacked another homer. Imagine what he would’ve done if he wasn’t so overrated. Adam Eaton continued his hot start, going 2-for-5 and driving in two more. Dude is 8-for-13 with five driven in on the early season.

Dodgers 9, Giants 0: Rich Hill blanked San Francisco for six innings and the bullpen took it the rest of the way. Cody Bellinger and Kiké Hernandez each drove in a couple. What a weird series. Four games in which every game was a shutout. The Giants scored only two runs in four games but still got the split. I can’t imagine that’s happened much outside of the Dead Ball Era or back in like in the 1960s.

White Sox vs. Royals — POSTPONED:

Cold black skin
Naked in the rain
Hammer flash in the lightning
They’re hurting her again

Let me put you in the picture
Let me show you what I mean
The messiah is my sister
Ain’t no king, man, she’s my queen

Yankees star Judge hits 61st home run, ties Maris’ AL record

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TORONTO — Aaron Judge tied Roger Maris’ American League record of 61 home runs in a season, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run drive for the New York Yankees in the seventh inning against the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.

The 30-year-old slugger drove a 94.5 mph belt-high sinker with a full-count from left-hander Tim Mayza over the left-field fence at Rogers Centre. The 117.4 mph drive took just 3.8 seconds to land 394 feet from the plate, and it put the Yankees ahead 5-3.

Judge watched the ball clank off the front of the stands, just below two fans who reached over a railing and tried for a catch. He pumped an arm just before reaching first and exchanged a slap with coach Travis Chapman.

The ball dropped into Toronto’s bullpen and was picked up by Blue Jays bullpen coach Matt Buschmann, who turned it over to the Yankees.

Judge’s mother and Roger Maris Jr. rose and hugged from front-row seats. He appeared to point toward them after rounding second base, then was congratulated by the entire Yankees team, who gave him hugs after he crossed the plate.

Judge moved past the 60 home runs Babe Ruth hit in 1927, which had stood as the major league mark until Maris broke it in 1961. All three stars reached those huge numbers playing for the Yankees.

Barry Bonds holds the big league record of 73 for the San Francisco Giants in 2001.

Judge had gone seven games without a home run – his longest drought this season was nine in mid-August. This was the Yankees’ 155th game of the season, leaving them seven more in the regular season.

The home run came in the fourth plate appearance of the night for Judge, ending a streak of 34 plate appearances without a home run.

Judge is hitting .313 with 130 RBIs, also the top totals in the AL. He has a chance to become the first AL Triple Crown winner since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012.

Maris hit No. 61 for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1961, against Boston Red Sox pitcher Tracy Stallard.

Maris’ mark has been exceeded six times, but all have been tainted by the stench of steroids. Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998 and 65 the following year, and Bonds topped him. 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 the holder of the “clean” record.

Among the tallest batters in major league history, the 6-foot-7 Judge burst on the scene on Aug. 13, 2016, homering off the railing above Yankee Stadium’s center-field sports bar and into the netting above Monument Park. He followed Tyler Austin to the plate and they become the first teammates to homer in their first major league at-bats in the same game.

Judge hit 52 homers with 114 RBIs the following year and was a unanimous winner of the AL Rookie of the Year award. Injuries limited him during the following three seasons, and he rebounded to hit 39 homers with 98 RBIs in 2021.

As he approached his last season before free agent eligibility, Judge on opening day turned down the Yankees’ offer of an eight-year contract worth from $230.5 million to $234.5 million. The proposal included an average of $30.5 million annually from 2023-29, with his salary this year to be either the $17 million offered by the team in arbitration or the $21 million requested by the player.

An agreement was reached in June on a $19 million, one-year deal, and Judge heads into this offseason likely to get a contract from the Yankees or another team for $300 million or more, perhaps topping $400 million.

Judge hit six homers in April, 12 in May and 11 in June. He earned his fourth All-Star selection and entered the break with 33 homers. He had 13 homers in July and dropped to nine in August, when injuries left him less protected in the batting order and pitchers walked him 25 times.

He became just the fifth player to hold a share of the AL season record. Nap Lajoie hit 14 in the AL’s first season as a major league in 1901, and Philadelphia Athletics teammate Socks Seabold had 16 the next year, a mark that stood until Babe Ruth hit 29 in 1919. Ruth set the record four times in all, with 54 in 1920, 59 in 1921 and 60 in 1927, a mark that stood until Maris’ 61 in 1961.

Maris was at 35 in July 1961 during the first season each team’s schedule increased from 154 games to 162, and baseball Commissioner Ford Frick ruled if anyone topped Ruth in more than 154 games “there would have to be some distinctive mark in the record books to show that Babe Ruth’s record was set under a 154-game schedule.”

That “distinctive mark” became known as an “asterisk” and it remained until Sept. 4, 1991, when a committee on statistical accuracy chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent voted unanimously to recognize Maris as the record holder.