And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Hope you had a good three-day weekend, filled with both time for leisure and time for reflection.

And of course, time for baseball. To that end, here are the scores, here are the highlights:

Dodgers 5, Phillies 4: The Phillies took a 4-0 lead after two innings and starter Vince Velasquez held them hitless into the sixth. A few weeks back the Dodgers might’ve buckled at that point but they seem to have found an extra gear of late. Last night that gear took the form of rallies in the sixth and eighth inning — the latter getting a nice assist from some poor Phillies defense that surely had the blokes in Passyunk Avenue going to spare — and five shutout innings from the Los Angeles bullpen. The Dodgers have won nine of 11.

Astros 5, Yankees 1: Justin Verlander keeps doing the dang thing, allowing one run on five hits in six and two-thirds without walking a soul. That performance actually increased his ERA, from 1.08 to 1.11. J.D. Davis hit a three-run homer and Jose Altuve hit a solo shot for the Astros.

Nationals 6, Orioles 0: Gio Gonzalez pitched shutout ball into the eighth, with Anthony Rendon‘s third inning three-run homer providing all Washington needed, though they’d tack on three more in the eighth via a mess of singles. That’s the fourth win in a row for the Nats. They’re still a half game out of first place in the East, but one gets the sense that order is being restored in a division that everyone assumed before the season Washington would win easily.

Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 3: Three-run homers were big yesterday I guess because Andrew Benintendi hit one here as part of the Red Sox’ five-run fourth inning. J.D. Martinez went deep too. Benintendi tripled and singled too. He’s in the leadoff spot because Mookie Betts is banged up. He seems to like it, having gone 4-for-8 in his two games there. The Red Sox have won seven of nine.

Tigers 9, Angels 3: James McCann hit a third inning grand slam in a game that was never close, as the Tigers rattled off 12 hits, walked four times and homered twice. Four of those runs and five of those hits came in two innings of garbage time pitched by Angels reliever Akeel Morris. This hours after the club DFA’d Ian Krol, making room for Morris. I guess it doesn’t matter who throws garbage time, but Krol was pretty good at Salt Lake this year and is not too far removed from big league success. Eh.

Braves 4, Mets 3; Mets 8, Braves 5: Baseball is important and all of that, but the real story here is that my favorite current artist, Jason Isbell, was supposed to play a concert at Sun Trust Park after this game. Then, because of an earlier rainout, they made this day a doubleheader. OK, fine, Isbell has played some late shows. Then more rains came to Atlanta yesterday, pushing the start of the nightcap until after 10PM, which meant . . .

Sorry, y’all. They’re refunding ticket holders, they’ll reschedule and they’ll give priority for repurchase for those who held them for this show. When they do, make a point to go see him. Isbell is awesome.

As for the games, the Mets blew a 2-0 lead in the seventh of game one, came back to regain the lead in the top of the ninth and then lost the game on a walkoff two-run homer from Charlie Culberson of all people, which is a pretty Mets way of losing. They did better in the nightcap — or should I say, “the morning cap” given that it ended at 1:30 AM — with Luis Guillorme breaking a seventh-inning tie with a two-run single and Amed Rosario knocking in three. Game one dropped the Mets down to .500, game two put them a game up. The Braves have the second-best record in the NL at 31-22 but they’re now just a half-game ahead of Washington in the division.

Cubs 7, Pirates 2: This one was notable for some ugliness in the form of a takeout slide from Anthony Rizzo on Pirates catcher Elias Diaz that was clearly violative of Rule 6.01(i) due to his deviating from his direct pathway to initiate contact with the fielder. Just because the umps got the call wrong and just because your high school coach would’ve patted you on the butt for such a slide does not make it a clean slide, kids. As for the game itself, the Pirates held it close, trailing only 1-0 into the seventh, but that’s when Chicago’s bats woke up, with two in each of the fine three innings. Addison Russell‘s two run shot in the seventh broke it open and Rizzo singled in two runs in the ninth.

Brewers 8, Cardinals 3Jonathan Villar and Christian Yelich homered and Ryan Braun went 3-for-3 with a double, two singles and scored three times. Starter Brent Suter even knocked in a couple of runs. The Brewers are cruising, having won 10 of 12. Their 4.5 game margin in the Central is the largest lead of any division leader in baseball right now.

Indians 9, White Sox 6Edwin Encarnacion homered and drove in four, Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 17 games and Francisco Lindor had three hits. The Tribe’s biggest inning came via a bunch of White Sox errors in the fifth inning — three errors in fact — which led to five Cleveland runs. They had been trailing 5-2 heading into that inning, by the way. The number of ways a baseball team can drive you crazy has no limit.

Rays 1, Athletics 0: Tied at zero until the top of the 13th — a couple of great starts from Chris Archer and Trevor Cahill contributed to that — when Mlalex Smith singled in a run that held up. The A’s are in a horrendous offensive drought at the moment, having scored 12 runs in seven games on their current home stand.

Diamondbacks 12, Reds 5: The Dbacks have been in a run-scoring drought of their own in recent games (er, weeks, actually) but they erupted here with Nick AhmedChris Owings and John Ryan Murphy each homering and the Reds tossing the ball over the field to help keep things nice and ugly. It was only the third win since May 10th for the Snakes.

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: RBI singles from Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz in the sixth was all Seattle needed thanks to Marco Gonzalez’s six and two-thirds innings of one run ball and a lockdown from the Mariners’ new-look bullpen. The M’s have won nine of ten.

Marlins 7, Padres 2: The Fish jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning after jumping on Padres starter Eric Lauer. Lauer would leave in the third having given up five runs on seven hits. All five of those runs came in on singles. The run support made Caleb Smith‘s job easy, and he proceeded to toss seven innings of one-run ball.

Rockies 6, Giants 5: Chris Iannetta singled in Nolan Arenado to give the Rockies a walkoff victory in the bottom of the tenth. Evan Longoria drove in three runs with a pair of doubles in a losing cause.

Twins 8, Royals 5: Minnesota snaps a four-game skid thanks in part to a Miguel Sano two-run homer and an Eddie Rosario three-run double. Sano has killed the Royals lately. He has a 15-game hitting streak against them and is batting .373 with six home runs and 26 RBI vs. Kansas City during that stretch. After a nightmare beginning to his season, Twins starter Lance Lynn turned in his second decent outing in a row.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.