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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Cardinals 13, Reds 4: Jose Martinez was a wrecking crew, homering, doubling in runs twice, singling in a run and taking a bases-loaded walk on a six-RBI night. Yadier Molina‘s one-game suspension rested him up nicely, it seems, as he homered. The Reds ended up using Cliff Pennington to pitch the ninth. The Reds fall to 2-10. This is their worst start since 1955. That team, however, finished pretty close to .500 when it was all said and done and their manager, Birdie Tebbetts, kept his job all season long. I’m feeling like neither of those things will happen with the 2018 Redlegs.

Red Sox 6, Yankees 3: Rick Porcello pitched seven scoreless innings and no-hit the Yankees for the first six, striking out six and not walking a soul to raise his record to 3-0. Sonny Gray, meanwhile, got rocked, needing 68 pitches to get through three innings and one batter in the fourth, giving up six runs on seven hits and throwing three wild pitches. A day after the big brawl only one guy got hit — Hanley Ramirez, who ended up leaving the game with a hurt wrist — but no one left the bench for that. Given that Gray couldn’t hit the side of a barn with his stuff last night, all likely agreed that it was unintentional.

Angels 7, Royals 1: Shohei Ohtani DH’d and hit a bases-loaded triple, turning a 3-0 game into a 6-0 game in the seventh inning. Ian Kinsler and Mike Trout homered and Kole Calhoun hit a two-run single on the Angels’ 15-hit night. All of that was more than enough for Nick Tropeano, who tossed six scoreless.

Pirates 6, Cubs 1: This one started out as a pitcher’s duel, but a four-run seventh fueled by a solo homer from Gregory Polanco — his second bomb of the day — and a three-run shot from Francisco Cervelli blew this one wide open. Meanwhile, Trevor Williams allowed only one run over six and the pen none over three for the Pirates.

Indians 9, Tigers 3: Cleveland jumped out to a six-run lead by the end of the second and beat up Michael Fulmer for nine runs — six earned — in three innings thanks to Francisco Lindor‘s three RBI and Jason Kipnis‘ and Jose Martinez’ two. The Tigers’ three errors in the first four innings helped too. This is the Indians’ 11th straight win against the Tigers.

Rockies 5, Nationals 1: DJ LeMahieu homered twice, hit two doubles and drove in four run. That was more than enough offense for Rockies starter Chad Bettis, who allowed one run over seven. LeMahieu has four homers on the season. He hit eight in all of 2017.

Twins 4, White Sox 0: Jose Berrios struck out 11 and allowed only three hits in seven shutout innings. He was backed by three RBI on a two-hit night from Joe Mauer. One of those hits put him in the 2,000-hit club.

Giants 7, Padres 0: Giants starter Chris Stratton held the Padres to one hit in seven shutout innings and reliever Derek Law held ’em hitless for the final two. The Friars’ only hit came from pitcher Clayton Richard, who was promptly doubled off on a line drive out. Stratton, the club’s fourth starter during spring training, has been elevated in importance due to Madison BumgarnerJohnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, all being on the disabled list, witch Bochy saying after last night’s game, “Now that makes him the No. 1 guy.”

MLB’s juiced baseball is juicing Triple-A home run totals too

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There has been considerable evidence amassed over the past year or two that the baseball used by Major League Baseball has a lower aerodynamic profile, leading to less drag, which leads directly to more home runs. If you doubted that at all, get a load of what is happening in Triple-A right now.

The minors have always had different balls than the majors. The MLB ball is made in Costa Rica at a Rawlings facility. The minor league balls are made in China. They use slightly different materials and, by all accounts, the minor league balls do not have the same sort of action and do not travel as far as the big league balls. Before the season, as Baseball America reported, Major League Baseball requested that Triple-A baseball switch to using MLB balls. The reason: uniformity and, one presumes, more accurate analysis of performance at the top level of the minor leagues.

The result, as Baseball America reports today, is a massive uptick in homers in the early going to the Triple-A season:

Last April, Triple-A hitters homered once every 47 plate appearances. As the weather warmed up, so did the home run rate. Over the course of the entire 2018 season, Triple-A hitters homered every 43 plate appearances. So far this year, they are homering every 32 plate appearances. Triple-A hitters are hitting home runs at a rate of 135 percent of last year’s rate.

Again, that’s in the coldest, least-homer friendly month of the season. It’s gonna just get worse. Or better, I guess, if you’re all about the long ball.

Which you had better be, because if they did something to deaden the balls and reduce homers, we’d have the same historically-high strikeout and walk rates but with no homers to provide offense to compensate. At least unless or until hitters changed their approach to become slap hitters or something, but that could take a good while. And may still not be effective given the advances in defense since the last time slap hitting was an important part of the game.

In the meantime, enjoy the dingers, Triple-A fans.