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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Astros 2, Angels 0: Justin Verlander was dealing. He shut out the Angels, giving up just five hits and a walk with seven strikeouts on 118 pitches. His seventh came in the ninth inning against Shohei Ohtani and marked the 2,500th strikeout of his career. Verlander is the 33rd member of the exclusive club. The Astros’ two runs came in the second inning on an Evan Gattis homer. Angels starter Garrett Richards wasn’t too shabby himself, giving up the runs (both unearned) on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in seven innings.

Rangers 5, Mariners 1: Bartolo Colon held the Mariners scoreless over 7 2/3 innings, giving up only four hits and walking none while striking out three on 96 pitches. And he got hit by a comebacker, which didn’t faze him at all. Colon, who turns 45 years old next week, has a 2.82 ERA — 10th-best in the American League. Delino DeShields broke the scoreless tie in the top of the eighth with a double off of Nick Vincent. The Rangers tacked on four more in the top of the ninth. The Mariners’ lone run came on a Kyle Seager home run off of Keone Kela in the bottom of the ninth.

Blue Jays 12, Mets 1: Ugly day for the Mets. Zack Wheeler couldn’t get an out in the fifth inning. In fact, he led off the frame walking opposing pitcher J.A. Happ. In four-plus innings, Wheeler was on the hook for six runs on seven hits and three walks with seven strikeouts. The Mets’ lone run came in the bottom of the ninth on a solo homer from Brandon Nimmo. The Jays got homers from Justin Smoak, Teoscar Hernandez, and Jose Urena. Happ went 2-for-3 with the walk, and tossed seven shutout innings on two hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. Almost Rick Wiseian.

Cardinals 7, Twins 5: This one was a group effort for the Cardinals. Six different hitters knocked in a run. Matt Carpenter, Dexter Fowler, Jose Martinez, and Tommy Pham had multiple hits. The Cardinals came close to giving up the lead but never actually trailed or were tied during the game. Logan Morrison homered and knocked in two for the Twins. Meanwhile, Eddie Rosario went 3-for-4 with a walk. Lance Lynn‘s struggles with the Twins continued — he lasted just three innings, giving up three runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts. His ERA is now 7.47.

Rays 5, Royals 3: Jake Faria was bad, but Jason Hammel was worse. Faria yielded three runs on four hits and four walks with two strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings; Hammel surrendered five runs on 10 hits and no walks with two strikeouts in six innings. C.J. Cron hit his 10th homer for the Rays. He’s been a real bright spot, considering he literally took the roster spot of Corey Dickerson. Denard Span and Wilson Ramos also picked up a couple of hits. For the Royals, Jon Jay went 3-for-4 with a double and a walk.

Brewers 8, Diamondbacks 2: Brewers hitters blasted four home runs, one each from Travis Shaw, Domingo Santana, Christian Yelich, and Tyler Saladino. All four homers came off of D-Backs starter Matt Koch, who couldn’t escape the fifth inning. He went 4 1/3 innings, giving up eight runs on nine hits and a walk with no strikeouts. Brandon Woodruff got the start for the Brewers, going five solid frames and yielding two runs on a hit and four walks with six strikeouts. Not pretty, but it got the job done.

Reds 6, Giants 3: The Reds scored four runs in the top of the first on Joey Votto‘s single and a three-run home run from Adam Duvall. Scooter Gennett hit a solo homer in the seventh. The Giants’ Brandon Belt stayed hot, homering in his third consecutive game. He has also now homered in each of his last five games against the Reds, dating back to last season. Matt Harvey got the start for the Reds. He went four innings, serving up three runs on seven hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

Red Sox 6, Athletics 4: The Athletics fought tough, but home runs by J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts proved to be too much. Martinez’s home run extended Boston’s lead to 3-0 in the first inning; Bogaerts’ homer made it a 6-2 game in the sixth. The A’s got homers from Marcus Semien, Matt Joyce, and Matt Olson. Chris Sale went just five innings, throwing 102 pitches, but he gave up just two runs on two hits and four walks with nine strikeouts. He’s now carrying a 2.29 ERA with an 87/15 K/BB ratio in 63 innings this season. Sale hasn’t been the American League’s best starter this season, but it will be interesting to see who hangs with him through the end of the season to compete for the Cy Young Award.

Marlins 6, Dodgers 5: J.T. Realmuto hit a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth inning off of Pedro Baez to break a 5-5 tie, which turned out to be the game-winning run. Starlin Castro also had a great game, racking up four hits in five at-bats. Walker Buehler had his first bumpy start for the Dodgers, giving up five runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. His ERA rises all the way up to 2.67.

Braves 4, Cubs 1: Carl Edwards, Jr. melted down in the eighth inning, forking over three runs to the Braves to break a 1-1 tie. He gave up a one-out triple to Ozzie Albies, then consecutive singles to Ronald Acuna and Freddie Freeman. He intentionally walked Nick Markakis to load the bases, then unintentionally walked Tyler Flowers to force in a run. Justin Hancock relieved Edwards only to issue a two-out walk to Johan Camargo to force in another run, charged to Edwards. Both starters, Tyler Chatwood and Brandon McCarthy, pitched well, yielding a lone run each in 5 1/3 and six innings, respectively. The Braves still lead the NL East, now with a 26-16 record. Who saw the Braves and Phillies being No. 1-2 in the NL East midway through May?

Phillies 4, Orioles 1: Nick Pivetta struck out 11 Orioles, giving up just one run over seven innings. Aside from a disastrous outing on May 4 against the Nationals, Pivetta has mostly been outstanding for the Phillies this year. While we shouldn’t expect double-digit strikeouts from him on a regular basis, if he can hold his own, the Phillies are legitimately scary in the NL East. Cesar Hernandez homered and tripled for the Phils. He has quietly been one of the better infielders in baseball over the last few years. Baseball Reference credits him with 3.2 WAR in 2016, 3.1 last year, and 1.3 already in 2018. Odubel Herrera extended his on-base streak to 42 games. On the Orioles’ side of things, Adam Jones homered, which was really the only thing worth writing home about.

Indians 6, Tigers 0: Trevor Bauer fired eight shutout innings, holding the Tigers to four hits while walking none and striking out 10. Something, something, spin rate. So far, it looks like Bauer is having a career year. He’s been steadily improving in a lot of areas over the last few years. Since 2015, his ERA has gone 4.55, 4.26, 4.19, and now 2.59 this year. K-rate since 2016: 20.7%, 26.2%, 27.2%. BB-rate since 2015: 10.6%, 8.6%, 8.0%, and 8.5% this year. Anyway, Michael Brantley had three hits including a solo homer.

Pirates 3, White Sox 2: Josh Bell hit an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to break a 2-2 tie, proving to be the game-winning hit. Jameson Taillon, who recently said he’d consider some alternative measures to heal a cut on his hand, gave up two runs in 5 2/3 innings on five hits and three walks with five strikeouts. Leury Garcia and Yolmer Sanchez both hit solo home runs for the White Sox off Taillon.

Yankees @ Nationals: Postponed due to inclement weather. The two clubs were going to play the remainder of Tuesday’s suspended game, but both that and Wednesday’s game have been rescheduled for Monday, June 18 at 5:05 PM ET.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.