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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

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here’s where we stand:

  • The Indians salvaged one in their three-game series against the Twins, but losing two of three means that the Tribe is back four and a half for the AL Central lead with two weeks to play;
  • The A’s won again — they’re rolling — and the Rays lost, putting Oakland a game and a half up on Tampa Bay in race for the first Wild Card, with Cleveland trailing Tampa Bay by one and a half;
  • The Nats’ win keeps them one and a half up in the first NL Wild Card slot. Chicago and Milwaukee both won while the Mets and Phillies both lost to keep the Cubs up a game on the Brewers for the second Wild Card, the Mets three and a half out and the Phillies four and a half back.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 6, Phillies 3: Christian Vázquez homered twice, one of which was a grand slam, accounting for five of the six Boston runs. They sweep the two-game series and have won three in a row overall. That’s nice, but I think the AP gamer’s mention that “Boston began play on Sunday trailing Tampa Bay by 10 games for the AL’s second wild card” is a tad superfluous at this point. Maybe everyone forgot how to talk about the Red Sox playing almost completely meaningless games?

Blue Jays 6, Yankees 4: Randal Grichuk homered twice and knocked in four as the Jays win on a day when both teams made it a bullpen game. At least on this day the Toronto bullpen was better, though the Yankees aren’t totally sad here seeing as though both Dellin Betances and Jordan Montgomery made their season debuts. Montgomery didn’t pitch too well. Betances threw only eight pitches but still struck out two dudes.

In addition to the Yankees being in Toronto this past weekend, so too were my parents, as they are on a ten-day driving vacation around Canada. I’m watching their cat and getting their mail and stuff. My dad called me yesterday to tell me that “the traffic in Toronto is TERRIBLE” and to ask, rhetorically, “how in the hell do people deal with the metric system?” Given that my dad has spent the vast majority of his 76 years on this planet living less than 100 miles from the Canadian border — and much of that living within bike-riding distance — given that he has traveled into and through Canada many, many times, and given that he spent his entire career in a scientifically-oriented field, neither Canada nor the metric system should be all that disturbing to him, so I’m gonna chalk it up to age. And that’s the case even if traffic in Toronto is terrible.

Now, where were we? Ah, baseball:

Indians 7, Twins 3: The Indians salvaged one in the three-game series and now trail the Twins in the Central by four and a half games, but with no more head-to-head matchups between these two they really needed a sweep or at least two of three. Roberto Pérez hit a three-run homer as part of a four-run rally in the sixth. Eddie Rosario homered twice from Minnesota and Miguel Sanó and LaMonte Wade Jr. went deep as well. Rosario’s first was his 30th on the year and now the Twins have four guys who have hit at least that many this season. They’re the first team since the 2009 Philadelphia Phillies to have pulled that off.

Nationals 7, Braves 0: The Braves clinched a postseason spot on Saturday but you can’t blame this one on a hangover lineup as just about all the regulars started. They just got whupped. Aníbal Sánchez spun a beauty against his old mates, allowing only three hits over seven shutout innings. Howie Kendrick homered and drove in three.

Orioles 8, Tigers 2: The second-worst team in baseball takes two of three from the worst team in baseball. Seems about right, I suppose. Probably a “victory” for the Tigers, though, right? As it gets them closer to the number one overall pick. A top overall pick all manner of teams who have been excellent for years haven’t had in decades, so maybe tanking in baseball is dumb. I dunno. I don’t know much about Spencer Torkelson. Maybe he’s the one player who can single-handedly turn a franchise around. Anyway, Asher Wojciechowski won for the first time in eight starts, allowing two runs and eight hits in five innings. Rio Ruiz hit a tie-breaking homer. Less than two weeks to go of this cursed season for each of these teams.

Astros 12, Royals 3: An unsurprising sweep. Josh Reddick hit a two run homer, had five hits and drove in three on the afternoon. Abraham Toro drove in three as well. Kyle Tucker hit a two-run homer. Yuli Gurriel hit a solo shot. It was the Astros’ 98th win, which ties them with the Yankees for the most in the bigs.

Brewers 7, Cardinals 6: The Brewers were down 4-3 and were down to their final strike in the top of the ninth inning when Ryan Braun smacked a grand slam to give them a three-run margin. It’d be a margin they’d need, too, as the Cards rallied for two themselves in the bottom of the ninth before coming up just short. All three of the baserunners Braun knocked in via that salami drew walks, by the way. That’s the kind of thing that takes years off a manager’s life. It was Milwaukee’s ninth win in ten games.

Watch Braun go yard:

Cubs 16, Pirates 6: A three game sweep thanks to 16 runs yesterday — and 47 runs in the three games — is pretty crazy, but losing Anthony Rizzo to a sprained ankle is rough stuff. Kris Bryant homered twice and Ian HappKyle Schwarber and Jonathan Lucroy each went deep themselves. The Cubs are hanging on by one game over the Brewers.

The Pirates, meanwhile, maybe committed the worst error of the season in this one:

 

Athletics 6, Rangers 1: Sean Manaea tossed six shutout innings and also forgot both the buttons to his jersey and an undershirt:

Hey, that chest piece ain’t gonna show off itself. Marcus Semien and Matt Chapman each homered. Neither of them decided to go with the 70s swinger look, however. Our loss.

Rockies 10, Padres 5:  Ryan McMahon homered twice and drove in four to give the Rockies the sweep and their fifth win in seven games. It was the Padres’ 81st loss, ensuring a non-winning record on the year. Which, yeah, will be a losing record given that they’re highly unlikely to win their final 13 games. The future looks bright but the present is still dim for San Diego.

Giants 2, Marlins 1: For non-divisional opponents it sure feels like these guys have played each other 19 times this year. Alas, it was only six, but the mind is a funny thing sometimes. Johnny Cueto tossed five shutout innings in his second strong start after coming off the injured list. Mauricio Dubón homered. Mike Yastrzemski scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch.

Angels 6, Rays 4: Albert Pujols hit a three-run homer and drove in four on the day. The old man still’s an artist with the Thompson. Sometimes anyway. The Angels snapped a six-game losing streak. They also lost Mike Trout for the remainder of the season after learning that he’d need foot surgery, but it’s been a hell of a season for him, he should still win the AL MVP, even if a bunch of columnists crank out columns to the contrary this week that, secretly, they don’t even believe themselves.

Reds 3 Diamondbacks 1: Eugenio Suárez hit two of three Cincinnati homers to tie him with Pete Alonso for the MLB lead at 47. The two RBI also gave him an even 100 on the year. I think Suárez is a hell of a player, but I also think that we’ll look back at 2019 and its insane home run rate and hold up the 50 homers or whatever he ends up with as a symptom of the broader disease. He’ll be the 1987 Brook Jacoby of the New Rabbit Ball Era. Even if he’s a better player than Brook Jacoby was.

Mariners 11, White Sox 10: Chicago was up 10-5 after seven and a half when Kyle Seager singled in a run to make it 10-6, Kyle Lewis hit a three-run bomb to make it 10-9 and then Mallex Smith singled in a run to tie it up. After the M’s held serve in the top of the ninth José Ruiz of the White Sox gave up two singles — one of them to Lewis — and then intentionally walked a guy to load the bases with one out. He got Tom Murphy down one ball and two strikes, Murphy worked the count full and then ball four gave the M’s a walkoff walk. Lewis finishes his first week in the bigs having gone 9-for-25 with four homers, two doubles and nine driven in in six games. Not too shabby.

Dodgers 3, Mets 2: Zack Wheeler pitched brilliantly for seven innings and the Mets led 2-1 into the eighth, but they couldn’t hold it beyond that. Chris Taylor doubled in Jedd Gyorko to tie it up at two and, an inning later, Gyorko singled in Kiké Hernandez to put the Dodgers over. L.A. takes two of three in a series the Mets really needed to win.

Two weeks to go. Every game looms large for the contenders now.