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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 7, Nationals 1: I spilled a lot of ink complaining about Ronald Acuna not being with the big club early — and I stand by that complaining — but let it be known that the guy keeping left field warm for him, Preston Tucker, has raked on the young season. Here he hit a three-run homer — his second such dong in as many days — and his 9-for-21 with eight driven in in six games. Not saying that’s sustainable, but I am saying that when Acuna comes up, perchance Atlanta might consider whether whatever is sustainable for Tucker is better than what can be expected from Nick Markakis. In other news, Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz outpitched Max Scherzer, allowing one run in five and a third and (all together now) helped his own cause by doubling in two runs in the fourth inning. The Braves are 4-2. It’s the first time they’ve been two games over .500 in three years.

Yankees 7, Rays 2: For the first time since they got together, Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez all homered in the same game, all of which were two-run shots. That was more than enough run support for Luis Severino, who allowed two while pitching into the eighth before handing it over to the pen. This is the Platonic idea of a 2018 Yankees win, I’d say. Expect many to follow this general arc this year.

Mets 4, Phillies 2: The most notable thing about this game is that it was streamed on Facebook. Like, exclusively. No local TV of any kind. Which means that if you wanted to watch this game you had to click a little box that said “YES: I agree to handing over all of my personal information to shady gray market data miners.” Hey, if you really love your Mets and Phillies, you’d do it. As for the game itself, Noah Syndergaard couldn’t make it past four innings, but the Mets bullpen was strong, facing the minimum over the final five frames, shutting Philly out in that span. Yoenis Cespedes went deep. Oh, And Amed Rosario hit a two-run triple that should NOT have been a triple but was because Gabe Kapler had right fielder Nick Williams playing roughly 50 feet shallower than the average right fielder would play, assuming Rosario couldn’t hit to the opposite field with authority. Watch:

 

I’m not gonna say Kapler’s data-driven innovations are bad ideas, full stop. I get the theory. I am gonna say, though, that when they backfire like they have so far, he’s gonna take the heat for it and deservedly so.

Astros 3, Orioles 2: Give the O’s pitching staff props for only giving up three runs I guess. Give Dallas Keuchel props for allowing only two — one unearned — and Brad Peacock for tossing three innings of scoreless relief. Josh Reddick had three hits and Alex Bregman hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the seventh to help Houston complete the sweep.

Diamondbacks 3, Dodgers 0: Patrick Corbin shut the boys in blue down, striking out 12 in a little over seven innings of work and the Dbacks bat, while mostly contained by Alex Wood, chipped off three in the first three innings. That’s a three-game series sweep for Arizona and their ninth straight regular season over Los Angeles overall.

Angels 3, Indians 2: Andrelton Simmons is a man after my heart for bunting to break up Corey Kluber’s no-hit bid in the fifth inning. To the extent that had the potential to be slammed as an Unwritten Rules violation, Shohei Ohtani nipped it in the bud by taking a Kluber fastball out to center field for a two-run home run, tying the game at 2-2. It was Ohtani’s second homer in as many days. That didn’t end things, of course. The game would be tied after regulation and eventually make it into the 13th inning, where Zack Cozart walked ’em off with this blast:

The Angels are 4-2 to start the season for the first time since 2007.

Twins 7, Pirates 3: The warm sunshine. The smell of the green grass. The fresh breezes. The relief pitcher catching snowflakes in his mouth as he’s trying to lock down the game in the ninth:

Brian Dozier hit his fourth homer in as many days and the Twins put up a four-spot in the sixth inning to hand the Pirates their first loss of the year. Miguel Sano had three hits and two RBI. Eduardo Escobar drove in two as well.

White Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: Jose Abreu‘s eight inning homer on a 3-0 pitch broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Chisox the game. Earlier Matt Davidson hit his fourth homer on the season. Sox starter Carson Fulmer held Toronto to three runs and five hits over five innings, and I continue to refuse to believe that that’s his name as opposed to the name of a backup quarterback someplace that an agitated fan base doesn’t severely overvalue in the way that backup quarterbacks are overvalued. I mean, yeah, he looks good on the sidelines and had some nice college numbers, but Trent Whoeverthehell is this club’s best option at QB, even with the current rough patch.

Giants 10, Mariners 1: The San Francisco offense finally work up, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in the first and making it 9-0 after five. Pablo Sandoval walked with the bases loaded in the first to drive in a run and later it a three-run homer on his four-RBI day. Gorkys Hernandez, Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford also went deep for the Giants. Gorkys should change his name to “Brandon” so we can refer to this offensive attack as “The Three Brandons.” Wait, never mind. That sounds like a craft beer only boring white dudes drink. He can stay “Gorkys.”

Cardinals 6, Brewers 0: Carlos Martinez shut the Brewers out through eight and a third, striking out ten while Yadi Molina homered and hit a sac fly. At one point Martinez retired 16 straight. The Brewers threatened in the ninth but Bud Norris got out of a bases loaded jam to end it. St. Louis takes two of three from Milwaukee on the road.

Athletics 6, Rangers 2: Sean Manaea was in control here, tossing eight innings of three-hit, one-run ball, which allowed the A’s four-run fourth inning to more than hold up. Bob Melvin did not allow Manaea to go out for the ninth despite the fact he was only at 94 pitches. Manaea was OK with that:

“Obviously I wanted to finish the game, but talking to BoMel it kind of wasn’t the right idea this early in the season,”

“BoMel?” No. Uh-uh. We are not doing this. Do you hear me, Oakland? If I hear “BoMel” one more time, I’m stopping this car.

Rockies 5, Padres 2: Jon Gray tossed seven shutout innings, striking out seven and walking none, while the Rockies $108 million man, Charlie Blackmon, got two hits and scored twice. Ian Desmond and Trevor Story each drove in two. Nolan Arenado doubled in a run. The game took just 2 hours and 41 minutes, and neither team used a mound visit. Progress? I dunno.

Royals vs. Tigers — POSTPONED:

The rain falls hard on a humdrum town
This town has dragged you down
Oh, the rain falls hard on a humdrum town
This town has dragged you down
Oh, no, and everybody’s got to live their life
And God knows I’ve got to live mine
God knows I’ve got to live mine

Young Blue Jays say they aren’t intimidated by top seed Rays

Blue Jays roster and schedule
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) When the Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays opened the pandemic-delayed season a little over two months ago, there was little to indicate the AL East rivals might meet again to begin the playoffs.

While the Rays launched the truncated 60-game schedule with expectations of making a strong bid for their first division title in a decade, the Blue Jays generally were viewed as an immensely talented young team still years away from postseason contention.

Tampa Bay didn’t disappoint, shrugging off a slow start to go a league-best 40-20 and claim the No. 1 seed in the AL playoffs that begin Tuesday.

Lefty Blake Snell, who’ll start Game 1 of the best-of-three wild-card series against Toronto at Tropicana Field, also isn’t surprised that the eighth-seeded Blue Jays earned a spot, too.

The Rays won six of 10 games between the teams during the regular season, but were outscored 48-44 and outhomered 17-11.

And while Toronto (32-28) lacks the playoff experience Tampa Bay gained last season when the Rays beat Oakland in the AL wild-card game before falling to Houston in the divisional round, the Blue Jays are building with exciting young players such as Cavan Biggio, Bo Bichette and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

“They’ve got a lot of young guys who can ball over there,” Snell said. “It’s going to be fun to compete and see how we do.”

Rays defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said Tampa Bay, in the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the second time franchise history, will not take the Blue Jays lightly.

“We know we’re playing a real good team,” Kiermaier said. “It’s not going to be easy, regardless of what a team is seeded.”

The Blue Jays, who’ll start right-hander Matt Shoemaker, aren’t conceding anything.

Bichette said he and his teammates respect how good Tampa Bay is, but are not intimidated by facing the No. 1 seed.

“I would say that we didn’t care who we played. I would say that we didn’t mind playing Tampa, that’s for sure. We’re familiar with them. We’ve played them well,” Bichette said.

“I think we’re confident in our ability against them. Our talent matches up well,” Bichette added. “We think if we play well we’ve got a good chance.”

NO FANS

The stands at Tropicana Field will be empty, leaving players to wonder what the atmosphere will be like for the playoffs.

Tampa Bay routinely rank at or near the bottom of the majors in attendance, but usually pack the stands in the domed stadium during the postseason.

“It will be different,” Bichette said. “Normally when you think of your first postseason you think 40,000, you think about not being able to think it’s so loud, stuff like that.”

The Blue Jays open the playoffs near where they hold spring training in Dunedin, Florida. It’s been a winding road for Toronto, which played its home games in Buffalo, New York, at the site of its Triple-A affiliate after the Canadian government barred the Blue Jays from hosting games at their own stadium because of coronavirus concerns.

CONFIDENT RAYS

Tampa Bay’s five-game loss to Houston in last year’s divisional round was a source of motivation during the regular season.

“It definitely lit a fire under everybody. It really showed us we belong. … We gave them a tough series,” second baseman Brandon Lowe said.

“We won the wild-card game. We belong in the postseason. I think that did a lot for us to understand that we should be in the postseason and we can go a lot farther. We know what to expect this time around. I think everyone in our clubhouse expects to be playing until the end of October,” he said.

CLOSE FRIENDS

Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash has the Rays in the playoffs for the second time. His close friend and former Rays third base and bench coach Charlie Montoyo is in his second year as manager of the Blue Jays, who last made the playoffs in 2016.

“Pretty special,” Cash said of his relationship with Montoyo.

“I really learned a lot from him being around him. The way he carried himself. His hand print is throughout this organization,” Cash added. “A pretty big impact and a positive one. … When they clinched I talked to him, we face-timed at 1:30 in the morning. I’m so happy for him.”