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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 3, Rays 2: David Price tossed seven shutout innings and the Rays starter, Johnny Wholestaff, started out with eight goose egg frames himself, heading into the bottom of the ninth with a 2-0 lead thanks to a Matt Duffy homer. The Sox rallied, however, with a Hanley Ramirez RBI single and an RBI double from Xander Bogaerts to force extras. Blanks until the bottom of the 12th, when a double and two walks loaded the bases for Ramirez who smacked a walkoff single to give Boston the game. I didn’t watch the postgame interviews, but I have to imagine that Rays manager Kevin Cash was peppered with tough questions about why he kept Wholestaff in for all 12 innings here. He had to be gassed.

Twins 4, Mariners 2: Seattle took an early two-run lead but the two was all they’d get. In the sixth Miguel Sano hit a two-run homer. Mitch Garver and Eddie Rosario would hit solo shots in the seventh and eighth, respectively. The Twins got four and two-thirds innings of scoreless relief from the bullpen, with Fernando Rodney getting his first save for Minnesota. The highlight of the game, however, came before it began, when a bald eagle landed on Mariners starter James Paxton’s shoulder. After the game, Paxton was asked how he remained so calm when the eagle landed on him. This is what he said:

“I’m not gonna outrun an eagle, so just thought, we’ll see what happens.”

I am being 100% sincere when I say that that is some seriously deep life lesson stuff. I’m fifteen years older than Paxton, I pride myself on rarely losing my cool when stressed or when I find myself in situations where I’m not in control, yet I continue to struggle for this level of zen in even my best moments. We should all simply chill out and see what happens whenever we’re faced with an eagle we cannot outrun. Metaphorically speaking.

Mets 8, Nationals 2: Michael Conforto came off the disabled list and hit a homer. Yoenis Cespedes homered as well. Jay Bruce later hit a grand slam that put the game well out of reach. At one point, when the game was close, the Nationals loaded the bases with nobody out and didn’t score a single run. Woof. After beginning the year 4-0, the Nationals have now dropped three straight. Woof woof. After a super hot start, Adam Eaton left the game after tweaking his ankle. Woof, woof, woof.

Phillies 5, Marlins 0: A combined shutout for Nick Pivetta and three Phillies relievers was backed by a 3-for-4, four-RBI afternoon from Maikel Franco, which included a two-run bomb. Phillies manager Gabe Kapler lifted Pivetta in the sixth after he had thrown 97 pitches and put a runner on. Totally conventional and totally defensible pitching change, but Phillies fans rained boos down upon Kapler, making up for the fact that all of the other stuff that he could’ve been booed for happened in road games.

Rangers 6, Athletics 3: A four-run second inning, aided by some bad Oakland defense, held up for Texas. Rangers starter Martin Perez was an escape artist, allowing ten hits in five and a third but giving up only three runs. Adrian Beltre made the record books by becoming the all-time hits leader among Latin-born players, passing Rod Carew. Shin-Soo Choo homered. Nomar Mazara added two hits. There were only 10,132 fans at this game and only 34,613 for all four games of this series. Yikes.

Rockies 3, Padres 1: Nothing but zeros on the board for either team through the first eight innings, but the Rockies got three in the ninth — all unearned — off of Brad Hand. Not that Hand distinguished himself, walking the first two batters he faced and then walking in a run before allowing a two-run single to DJ LeMahieu. The box score says “unearned” but cosmically speaking, Hand gave ’em up.

Tigers 9, White Sox 7: Miguel Cabrera left the game early when he jammed his hip, but his replacement — Niko Goodrum — came up big with a two-run homer in the ninth inning which brought the Tigers to within one run. Soon after that Victor Martinez doubled in Nicholas Castellanos to tie things up and send it to extras. In the 10th, Leonys Martin knocked in Mikie Mahtook on a fielder’s choice and Jeimer Candelario added an insurance run with an RBI single. The lead would hold, ending a cold and snowy home opener in Chicago. In other news, if you had asked your average Tigers fan who Niko Goodrum and Jeimer Candelario were a year or so ago, I’m guessing most would stare at you blankly. Hell, I follow baseball closer than most folks, and if you would’ve asked me, I might’ve said that “Niko Goodrum” was a character’s name in some bad allegorical fiction written by a college sophomore.

Orioles 5, Yankees 2: Masahiro Tanaka was doing just fine until the seventh, blanking the Orioles, but then he ran into some trouble, giving up a two-run blast to Adam Jones and then putting another runner on. Aaron Boone lifted him for Chad Green who allowed that inherited runner to score on an Anthony Santander double, put Colby Rasmus on base and then allowed both of them to score on a Trey Mancini single. Meanwhile, Andrew Cashner allowed only one run over six — Aaron Judge‘s second homer of the season, a solo shot — and his relief allowed only one more man to cross home plate. Judge’s bomb was the only hit Cashner gave up to the Yankees’ Big Three of Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Gary Sanchez.

Pirates 5, Reds 2: Gregory Polanco hit a two-run homer during a four-run fifth. Earlier he had plated a run via a sac fly. Polanco has driven in nine runs on the young season. I guess being in The Best Shape of His Life is paying off. Buccos’ starter Steven Brault pitched one-run ball over five innings. Not gonna freak out or anything, but Joey Votto is 3-for-19 with only one walk and no extra base hits in his first five games.

Diamondbacks 3, Cardinals 1: Robbie Ray allowed one run over six innings and struck out nine. He walked a lot of guys, but he allowed only one hit and the pen allowed only one additional hit for the rest of the game. Meanwhile, his counterpart, Adam Wainwright, labored to throw 89 pitches in three and two-thirds innings.

Cubs 8, Brewers 0: Jon Lester tossed six scoreless frames, striking out six and even picking off a runner at third base, which is not the sort of thing Lester is known for. Of course that runner, Ryan Braun, was only in a position to break for third because he had stolen second due to Lester’s inattention to him previously, but let us not dwell on such details. The Cubs were up 5-0 after three and added more as the night went on, with the scoring capped by a Jason Heyward homer in the ninth. Even worse for Milwaukee: they lost All-Star closer Corey Knebel due to a hamstring injury as he pitched in a non-save situation in the ninth. All he wanted to do was to get some work in, and now he’s DL-bound.

And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights. The Orioles-Indians one is last and is really, really long, but I suspect a lot of you will appreciate it.

Pirates 2, Cubs 1: Adam Frazier socked a two-out, pinch-hit, 11th inning walkoff homer to earn a split for the Buccos. That it was a split was a minor miracle, really, given that the Cubs scored exactly four runs in the series. One run each game, in fact. They just happened to win 1-0 on both Thursday and Friday.

Rockies 4, Braves 2: Atlanta won five in a row last week and claimed first place and then went and got swept in a four-game series at home this weekend. Not that beating good teams is new to the Rockies. Colorado is 30-16 since June 26 and all 46 of those games have been played against winning teams. Or, at the very least, teams which were winning teams at the time. DJ LeMahieu was a killer this weekend. He hit a tie-breaking homer in extra innings on Saturday night and then he homered again here. Braves manager Brian Snitker, commenting on four straight losses on the heels of a five-game winning streak:

“In this business, every time you think you have something figured out, you get kicked right in the teeth”

If he’d have changed “this business” to “life” and then he’d really be dropping truth bombs. Lucky for him sometimes, even when you get kicked in the teeth, things don’t go as bad as they could, though. Such as the Phillies losing two in a row to the Mets and missing out on an excellent chance to make up more ground.

Marlins 12, Nationals 1: The Nats, meanwhile, dropped their seventh game in their last ten. They could do nothing against Jose Urena — and lucky they didn’t, or else maybe he’d try to hurt injure them — who tossed a complete game, allowing just the one run on only two hits. Starlin Castro had five hits and scored three times. JT Riddle and J.T. Realmuto each homered and drove in three, proving once and for all that the periods, or lack thereof, in their first names have no bearing on their baseball ability. That’s just science.

Rangers 4, Angels 2: Rougned Odor hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the seventh to give the Rangers their third win in the four-game series. Bartolo Colon was supposed to start this one for Texas but didn’t because of back stiffness. This is how, all the jokes about his size and his age aside, you know that Colon is a legit athlete. For all normal 45 year-olds — and I speak from personal experience here — back stiffness is more or less the default status, not the rare anomaly which interrupts one’s normal routine.

Rays 2, Red Sox 0: Five Rays pitchers combined to shut out the Sox, Joey Wendle and C.J. Cron went deep and Tampa Bay avoided the sweep. In related news, over the weekend some Rays fans on Twitter decided to take me to task for not thinking the Rays would be good this year. Even the Tampa Bay Times got into the act yesterday, citing yours truly by name.

On the one hand I will totally cop to thinking the Rays would be far worse than they are. Like a lot of predictions, I blew that one. Kudos to the Rays for beating mine and everyone’s expectations for them.

On the other hand, the level of aggression I got from the Rays folks over the weekend was pretty hilarious given that, overachieving notwithstanding, we’re still talking about a team that has hovered around .500 all year and is around 25 games out of first place and 11 back in the Wild Card race. The Oakland A’s they are not. It also doesn’t take into account that most of my criticism was about the Rays front office making financial moves, not baseball moves, and doing it pretty cynically and pretty transparently. That those moves have happened to turn out far better for them than expected does not change the fact that they were financial moves that were and remain pretty hostile to casual fans, most of whom are looking for a connection to their team and some continuity to that end, and who do not give a flying frick about how many prospects are playing in Princeton or wherever and are not as jazzed by a three-year plan as they might be by, you know, having a front office who has as at least part of its mission to put an entertaining product on the field. There’s a certain swath of Rays fandom who does not understand that and, in fact, seems aggressively opposed to even trying to understand it.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not appreciating the glory of their accomplishment in 2018. Rather than merely receiving a respectful nod for doing far better than anyone expected and a mea culpa from those of us who got it wrong, maybe the Rays should hoist a “Most wins per dollars spent” banner to go with the Wild Card banner they put up a couple of years back to show the haters exactly what they’re dealing with.

Yankees 10, Blue Jays 2: Greg Bird hit a grand slam in the first inning and everything after that was cream cheese. J.A. Happ won for the fourth time in four starts as a Yankee, this one against his old mates. It wasn’t all good news, though: Didi Gregorius hurt his left heel in a collision at first base and left the game with a deep bruise that could land him on the disabled list. New York sweeps the three-game series.

Reds 11, Giants 4: Cincy put up a seven-run third inning ending this one before it even got going. Eugenio Suarez and Jose Peraza each hit two-run homers and Billy Hamilton tripled twice and drove in three. The Reds sweep the Giants, who fall eight games back in the west and three games under .500. They scored six runs in the whole series.

White Sox 7, Royals 6: Kansas City took a 6-0 lead into the fourth inning but the Chisox put up a tying six-spot that inning and added a decisive seventh run in the fifth. Omar Narvaez tied it up at six with a homer and then knocked in that decisive run I mentioned with an RBI single. Avasail Garcia hit a three-run bomb.

Twins 5, Tigers 4: Eddie RosarioMax Kepler and Jake Cave all went deep as the Twinkies won their fifth of six. Does anyone call them the Twinkies anymore? I haven’t heard that one for a long time. Then again, I don’t really watch a lot of Twinkies games and never watch sports network highlight shows so maybe I’m just missing it.

Brewers 2, Cardinals 1: Mike Moustakas‘ two-run double in the third held up thanks to Jhoulys Chacin‘s six shutout innings. The win puts the Brewers back ahead of St. Louis for the second Wild Card and ends Milwaukee’s three-game losing streak.

Astros 9, Athletics 4: Houston salvages one and in so doing regains their lead in the AL West. Justin Verlander got the W, earning the 200th win of his career. It wasn’t a pretty win — he didn’t make it out of the sixth and gave up four runs in the process, with three of those runs coming on Khris Davis homers — but as we so often note around here, wins are team-dependent and here his team picked him up. Most of that picking up came via the longball, with Yuli Gurriel, Evan Gattis, Martin Maldonado, Alex Bregman and Marwin Gonzalez going deep.

Dodgers 12, Mariners 1: Clayton Kershaw hasn’t gotten a lot of that team support this year but he got five runs before he even had to throw a pitch here and then cruised to his 150th career win. Maybe the Dodgers’ batters were pissed over losing in extra innings on a walkoff balk the night before. I know I would be. Difference with me is that, when I’m mad, I don’t usually do better work. Justin Turner hit a three-run homer and drove in five. Kershaw allowed one run on four hits in seven innings. L.A. did not gain any ground in the West though, thanks in part to that Rockies win over the Braves and thanks in part to . . .

Diamondbacks 4, Padres 3: . . . the Snakes beating the Friars. A.J. Pollock‘s ninth inning homer was the difference. Arizona had tied it at 3 thanks to Daniel Descalso‘s solo homer in the eighth. The Diamondbacks have won four of five. They retain a half-game lead over Colorado.

Mets 8, Phillies 2Amed Rosario had three hits and drove in three runs, Jeff McNeil had a two-run single and Jason Vargas was effective into the sixth inning as the Mets beat the Phillies in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in the Little League Classic. The Phillies have lost seven of 11 and drop a half game behind Atlanta in the East.

Indians 8, Orioles 0: Melky Cabrera hit a grand slam in Cleveland’s six-run fourth inning, Mike Clevinger shut the O’s out for six and three relievers finished it off as the Tribe takes two of three from the O’s.

In related news, I took my kids to the first game of this series on Friday night. They’re not really big baseball fans, but they like going to games. Partially because it’s fun and there’s junk food, but mostly because it provides them a new venue for the sort of savage and absurdist commentary for which Gen-Z kids are quickly becoming famous.

I’ve watched this from a front row seat for a couple of years now. Anyone who follows me on Twitter is familiar with how brutally my daughter Anna, 14, owns me via text messages (and some old timers around here may remember her greatest hits from WAY back in the day). Others who follow me know how deeply into absurdist and envelope-pushing meme culture my son, Carlo, 13, happens to be. Every day is a new, eye-opening adventure. I’m impressed by the level of savagery they’re capable of in their early teens and terrified at what they’re going to capable of once they reach adulthood.

I’m likewise suffering from no small amount of whiplash. I mean, I once thought my fellow Gen-Xers and I had perfected ironic emotional detachment and that whole “whatever, nothing matters anyway” stance. I also thought that a decade’s worth of Millennials restoring an earnestness and emotional honesty to the lexicon of our nation’s youth — the likes of which we haven’t seen for probably 60 or 70 years — had all but buried that jaded sentiment once and for all.

Nope. The Gen-Z kids are going to stomp on the Millennials’ throats and pour acid all over their hopes, dreams and pretensions of an earnest and hopeful world. Then they’ll laugh mockingly at the Gen-Xers as we’re exposed for the amateurs that we are, and will rhetorically kill us, like some warrior coming back to vanquish their sensei. The only saving grace is that whatever Boomers are still left as this happens will just die of shock and outrage. Gen-Z will not be attending their funerals either unless they need some pics of dead grandpa for a devastating meme or two (Carlo has already told my father that he’s going to meme him once he passes away; my father does not quite know what to make of that, mostly because he’s 74 and does not know what a meme is).

Anyway, I’ve blocked out most of what they had to say during the game as a means of psychological self-defense, but trust me when I say that it was three straight hours of running commentary at turns hilarious, frightening and truly disturbing in ways that are hard to pin down. I do, however, remember or have documentation of a few things that went down in between the hot dogs and bon mottes:

  • My son is well aware of my Chief Wahoo stance and, thankfully, agrees with it. Nevertheless, he kept threatening to say “my dad said you’re a racist” to everyone who was wearing Wahoo gear because he said it’d be fun to see what happened. Which, given that he’s basically an agent of chaos — here’s a video of him in action — was a fairly plausible threat. Thankfully he did not do it;
  • My daughter said to my son that Orioles’ outfielder Joey Rickard looked like “that kid Kyle, in your grade.” My son agreed. For the rest of the game, every time Rickard came up, they yelled “don’t mess up, Kyle!” Rickard went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and all the way home they would fill silences with “Dammit, Kyle” and shake their heads after which they’d laugh hysterically. They then said that, at school today, they were going to tell Kyle he sucked but not tell him why. I think it’s 50/50 that they do it;
  • Slider, the Indians’ mascot came up to our section. This is a screencap from my daughter’s Snapchat:

All of that being said, I don’t want you to get the impression that Anna and Carlo’s entire existence is savage owns and joking and ironic detachment. They are actually smart, sweet and sensitive kids who, when they’re not joking around, possess more empathy for their fellow humans than most adults who have seen and experienced far more than they have do. I am proud of my kids for that. Truly proud. Indeed I worry that the jaded exterior I’ve been describing is a defensive perimeter they and their generation have been forced to erect because the generations which came before them have thrown so much fear into their world and, perhaps, are even ruining it before my kids get a chance to live in it as adults. That’s a lot to put on anyone, but the fact that we’ve put that sort of weight on our children is a tragedy. Knowing that the’ll have to cope with what we have done to make their lives harder and, quite possibly, shorter, breaks my heart.

Those thoughts were swirling around my head as the game neared its end Friday evening. As they did, I looked over to Carlo and Anna sitting next to me. They were watching the game intently. And, even though it had started raining, quite contently. They seemed happy. The cynicism and the wiseguy routines had been left back in the middle innings somewhere. When Cody Allen struck out Kyle, er, I mean Joey Rickard, for the game’s final out, they both stood up and cheered a genuine and exuberant cheer. When they did, I figured it was a good opportunity for some rare heartfelt sincerity.

“So, Baseball. You like it, eh?” I said in my proudest dad voice, thinking that, just maybe, we had bonded over something near and dear to my heart. Anna looked at me and smiled. Then she said something I’ll never forget.

“Not really. But I guess I sort of have to respect it because if it wasn’t for baseball you’d be unemployed and I’d probably be homeless.”