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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Royals 1, Tigers 0: This was a quick one: two hours and seventeen minutes. Royals starter Jakob Junis allowed only three hits over seven innings and a second inning Jorge Soler sac fly stood up. The Royals get their first win of the year.

Yankees 11, Rays 4: The Good: Didi Gregorius went 4-for-4 with two three-run homers and drove in eight. The bad: Giancarlo Stanton went 0-for-5, struck out five times and actually received boos in his first game in front of the Yankee Stadium faithful. All of that drowned out the fact that the Yankees bullpen blew a 4-1 lead midway through the game.

Mariners 6, Giants 4: On Opening Day, Giants starter Ty Blach held the Dodgers scoreless. On Home Opening Day he got his butt handed to him by the Mariners to the tune of six runs on ten hits over four and a third. The M’s scored all of their runs without the benefit of a homer, with Mitch Haniger leading the way with two driven in on a single. The Giants’ Joe Panik homered again and, until the seventh inning, when Evan Longoria homered, it meant that the Giants had scored a total of three runs on the season, all on Panik homers. I guess that’s over. In other news, this was the lowest attendance for a Giants home opener in the history of AT&T Park. That’s a relative thing, obviously — they drew 40,901 and called it a sellout somehow, even though it was 1,000 fans short of listed capacity — but it still was low for the Giants. They’ll still draw better than almost anyone this year, but not even the Giants are immune from the consequences of poor play. In a season in which several teams are clearly not even trying, expect that we’ll be discussing a lot of low attendance figures across the majors.

Red Sox 4, Marlins 2: It was a 1-1 game into the 11th inning and then the Red Sox and Marlins got on the seesaw. Andrew Benintendi singled home a run that inning, only to watch Cameron Maybin double home a run in the bottom half. The Sox put an end to the scoring in the top of the 13th when Hanley Ramirez doubled in Mookie Betts and Benintendi. Lost in all of the extra innings fun were a couple of good starting performances from Chris Sale and, especially, Jose Urena (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7K). I read a game story in which it said that Ramirez had the game-winning hit against “his former team.” That’s technically true, but given how much water has flowed under the bridge since Ramirez played in Miami, such a comment is akin to saying that a 2018 Chevy Malibu is “the same car” as a 1965 Chevelle Malibu SS 767 convertible. Yeah, there’s a similarity in nomenclature, but beyond that all useful comparisons end.

Blue Jays 14, White Sox 5: The Jays jumped out to a four run lead, the White Sox made it vaguely close and then the Jays put up a seven-spot in the eighth inning to make it a laugher. Those seven runs came courtesy of four RBI doubles, an RBI single and a sac fly, so it was less of full-power shellacking than it was this:

Josh Donaldson and Aledmys Diaz each drove in three and hit pre-eighth inning homers. Diaz would leave the game early with back spasms, but he had already done enough.

Mets 2, Phillies 0: Matt Harvey is one of the guys I identified as being under pressure in 2018, but he handled it just fine in his first outing of the season, allowing only one hit in five shutout innings while striking out five and not walking a soul. He didn’t get the win, as the Mets bats were silenced until the sixth inning, but I’m sure he and the Mets are quite happy with what they got out of him. If Harvey is even close to being the pitcher he was a few years ago, it gives the Mets a totally different feel as a contender.

Braves 13, Nationals 6: Atlanta jumped all over Nats starter A.J. Cole, scoring eight off of him in the first two innings and ten over the course of three and two-thirds. Ouch. That bailed out their own starter, Julio Teheran, who was beat up for five runs in less than three innings, but the Braves bullpen allowed only one run — unearned — over the final six and two-thirds. Freddie Freeman led the way offensively for Atlanta, smacking a three-run homer and later adding an RBI single. Preston Tucker hit a three-run homer of his own. The Braves have scored 41 runs in their first five games. It ain’t sustainable, but it’s kinda fun.

Brewers 5, Cardinals 4: Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of the Simon and Garfunkel album “Bookends.” Yesterday this game began with back-to-back homers by Dexter Fowler and Tommy Pham was . . . bookended by Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun hitting back-to-back homers to end it. This is important. This means something. *sculpts Devil’s Tower out of mashed potatoes, asks “where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?”*

Astros 10, Orioles 6: Josh Reddick hit two homers: a two-run job in the sixth and a grand slam in the seventh. Guess this from the other day — copied off of Dexter Fowler, but that’s how baseball goes sometimes — worked:

Carlos Correa went 2-for-2 with an inside-the-park home run, three RBI, and three runs scored, all with a sore leg and toe that is causing him to be rested in today’s game. Imagine what he’d do if he had two inflated tires.

Diamondbacks 6, Dodgers 1: Zack Godley and Clayton Kershaw each did what their managers asked of them, going fairly deep into the game, a day after a bullpen-burning marathon contest. Godley allowed one run over seven and Kershaw allowed two over six though, oddly for him, gave up two solo homers to left-handed hitters. Like, super oddly in that he’s never allowed two different lefties to homer off of him in the same game, ever. Still, it was 2-1 and a 2-1 deficit is something a good club can overcome. Not here, though, as the Snakes walked all over the Dodgers pen. Like, literally walked, as Scott Alexander allowed two singles, walked the bases loaded and then walked in a run. His relief, Pedro Baez, then proceeded to walk in two more runs by issuing free passes to the first two batters he faced. I didn’t watch this one but I’m guessing Dave Roberts was less than his usual, smiling self as that all went down. John Ryan Murphy would add in one more insurance run on a late dinger. The Dodgers may have swept Arizona out of the playoffs last year, but the Diamondbacks won their eighth straight regular season game over the Dodgers.

Angels 13, Indians 2: Shohei Ohtani hit his first big league homer. It was a three run shot that came immediately after Indians pitcher Josh Tomlin uncorked a bases-loaded wild pitch. After the dinger, Ohtani got the famous silent treatment from his teammates:

That, by the way, is totally how you handle the silent treatment: find a guy in the dugout and just start hugging him until everyone else comes around. Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Rene Rivera also went deep in the blowout, with Rivera adding a two-run double to give him four RBI on the night.

Rangers 4, Athletics 1: Cole Hamels struck out 11 over five innings of one-run ball, Joey Gallo homered and Rougned Odor singled in Nomar Mazara on two separate occasions. From the game story:

Joey Gallo didn’t see much of a reason to celebrate becoming the 11th fastest player in major league history to 50 home runs. A few of his Texas teammates thought differently and repeatedly pelted the first baseman with wadded balls of napkins as he spoke with reporters.

As one does. In other news, Adrian Beltre hit a second inning single that, in the game was not super consequential, but tied Rod Carew for most hits by a Latin-born player, giving it some cosmic and record book significance.

Padres 8, Rockies 4: Rookie third baseman Christian Villanueva hit three homers, two of which were solo jobs and the final of which was a three-run shot. Thanks to the Royals win earlier, the Padres were the last winless team in baseball. After this victory, all surviving members of the 1988 Baltimore Orioles cracked open their annual celebratory champagne, their 0-21 season-starting losing streak record safe for another year.

Cubs vs. Reds — POSTPONED:

Nine lives, we had them once
Used them up too fast, we will always be together
Nine miles to Cooperstown, famous words come last
I will love you forever

And the rain crashed down on the roof
For punishing our transgressions, waiting on a confession
And the rain crashed down on the roof
Said didn’t you see it coming, when you hit the ground running away, away, away

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.