Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:
Nationals 4, Rays 2: Max Scherzer continues to turn in an historic season. Here he struck out 13 without walking a soul, allowing two runs on five hits in eight innings. In one inning he struck out the side on nine pitches. He picked up his 10th win. He’s on pace for a 27-3 record and 365 strikeouts in 239.2 innings. With a polite nod of the cap to Jacob deGrom, who has been utterly unsupported and often downright betrayed by his teammates, I think Scherzer is quickly deciding the Cy Young race before summer even officially begins.
Yankees 7, Blue Jays 2: It was scoreless through five and the Yankees could only scratch across one run against Marco Estrada. They were much happier to see Seunghwan Oh, who came in with one on in the seventh, hit a batter, walked another batter and then gave up a grand slam to Miguel Andujar. The following inning Aaron Hicks hit a three-run homer off of Aaron Loup. Scoring your runs in bunches saves energy. Work smarter, not harder. Etc.
Red Sox 6, Tigers 0: Steven Wright was making his first start in over a year, but you wouldn’t know it, as he gave up only two hits in seven shutout innings. J.D. Martinez and Xander Bogaerts went deep. That’s 20 bombs on the year for Martinez, who is on pace for 53. As far as free agent signings go, there aren’t many who are doing as exactly as advertised as is Martinez. Indeed, if I search hard enough, I’m guessing I can find someone’s free agent preview saying “Martinez has his strengths and his weaknesses as a ballplayer, but if you want a guy who stands a great chance of mashing 50 low-drama taters for you, he’s your huckleberry.” Actually, I doubt anyone wrote that exact thing, but you get my drift.
Orioles 2, Mets 1: This has to be the Misery World Series, right? The Orioles have the worst record in baseball, but it’s even worse than that because unlike some of the teams above them in the overall standings, there was at least an argument for the O’s to contend, making their nightmare season all the more painful. Likewise the Mets. While they are one of the better teams in the bottom-third of the overall league standings, they are disappointing their fans in both traditional Mets ways (i.e. injuries to key players that are both surprising and questionably handled) and in novel ways (i.e. starting off strong to give fans hope before going on an extended skid). Either way, I figure fan enthusiasm for this brief, two-game set is quite low.
All that being said, we had a decent game here! An unexpected pitcher’s duel between Alex Cobb and Jason Vargas of all people, with Cobb prevailing thanks to a one-run, two-hit performance over six while punching out seven and a couple of early runs which held up. O’s fans, their overall enthusiasm notwithstanding, can be happy that a seven-game losing streak came to an end. Mets fans — who I secretly suspect are most comfortable when they’re miserable, even if they don’t enjoy it as such — can nod at their seven-game home losing streak and fifth straight loss overall and at least know how to react, the routine of enduring misery wearing on them like a pair of well broken-in dungarees.
Dodgers 5, Pirates 0: A word about recaps: they’re way easier to write when outcomes are clear-cut. A blowout requires less in the way of detail, so it allows for greater creativity. A shutout or an otherwise outstanding pitching performance allows the recapper to focus on that aspect of the game. A close, low-scoring game or an extra innings game or a wild game likewise gives your recapper an obvious angle and thus, possibly anyway, a chance to write something funny or interesting. Your recapper is far less fond of 8-5 games or 4-3 games, at least as far as the mechanics of recapping go, because they’re kinda boring. I don’t presume that any of you should care about this, by the way, I just thought I’d offer up the information by way of disclosure.
In related news, Ross Stripling and four Dodgers relievers combined to shut out the Pirates with three homers — from Messrs. Pederson, Puig, and Bellinger — carrying the offensive load. Pederson’s homer came off of Joe Musgrove, the man he victimized for two homers in the World Series. I suppose Musgrove could’ve just pointed to his ring finger as Pederson circled the bases here, but though that may have made him feel better in the moment, it would’ve been a petty and ultimately empty gesture. In any event, the once-flailing Dodgers have won 14 of 18 games and now sit at .500, two games back in the West.
Twins 4, White Sox 2; White Sox 6, Twins 3: Reynaldo Lopez allowed only one hit in seven shutout innings before departing and handing things over to the bullpen which, in hindsight, was a bad idea. That’s because the bullpen — well, really, just Nate Jones — promptly gave up four runs on three hits and a walk, topped by Eduardo Escobar‘s three-run homer, in the eighth inning. So much for Game 1. The nightcap went better for Chicago, which got an early two-run homer from Jose Abreu which helped knock out Twins starter Zack Littell, who was making his major league debut, after giving up six runs on six hits in three innings. Escobar, by the way, went 5-for-8 with five RBI in the doubleheader.
Indians 3, Brewers 2: Jose Ramirez hit his 19th homer on the year and Corey Kluber made the Tribe’s three early runs hold up. The reigning Cy Young winner allowed one run over seven, striking out seven, and issuing no free passes. We could play the “on-pace” game with Kluber just as easily as we did with Scherzer. My dude is on pace for a 25-5 record and a mind-boggling K/BB ratio of 261/27 in 250.2 innings. That’s Greg Maddux stuff on the walks side, but way, way better on the strikeouts side. Kluber is, in fact, on a pace for a top-10 all-time K/BB ratio season, and a few of those guys in the top ten are from the deadball era.
Rockies 9, Reds 6: Not as close as the score would indicate. Putative Reds ace Anthony DeSclafani saw his first action since 2016 and gave up four runs on six hits in five innings. Chris Iannetta hit a two-run bomb and Carlos Gonzalez hit a three-run shot as the Rockies built up a big early lead and held on despite some bad bullpen work. Given that Colorado had lost four straight and given that they held leads in all four of those games at one point, perhaps I shouldn’t be so casual about that “not as close as the score would indicate” jazz, but whatever.
Rangers 7, Athletics 4: Texas went deep five times, with Adrian Beltre‘s eighth inning bomb breaking a 4-4 tie. Robison Chirinos, Jurickson Profar, Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo also hit homers. Keone Kela struck out the side in a perfect ninth for his 14th save. He hasn’t blown one all year.
Phillies 6, Cubs 1: Zach Eflin scattered eight hits and allowed only one run while pitching into the eighth while his counterpart, Kyle Hendricks, didn’t fool anyone. Eflin only struck out two, but that was sort of by design as there was a 24 m.p.h. wind blowing in at a cold Wrigley Field, which inspired him to attack the zone and let obliging Cubs batters get themselves out. Nick Williams hit a two-run homer and knocked in a third on a fielder’s choice.
Mariners 7, Astros 1: Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino and Jean Segura all homered off Dallas Keuchel, who pitched into the seventh but gave up seven runs. James Paxton, meanwhile, allowed only one run, scattering nine hits, in seven and two-thirds. That’s five wins in a row for Seattle, who now has a two-game lead over the Astros in the West.
Marlins 7, Cardinals 4: The Marlins snap their six-game losing streak thanks to homers from Brian Anderson and J.T. Riddle. Anderson drove in three, in fact, and Jose Urena got his first win of the year despite giving up four runs on ten hits in five innings. Urena, the Marlins opening day starter, had lost all seven of his previous decisions this year and Miami had lost his previous 14 starts dating back to last season.
Angels 1, Royals 0: Andrew Heaney went the distance, tossing a one-hit shutout. It was his 27th birthday too — one batter retired for each year on Earth, I suppose — so happy birthday to you, Mr. Heaney. Not gonna say the offenses took the night off, but the only run in this one scored when a runner crossed the plate as another runner was getting caught stealing.
Braves 14, Padres 1: The Braves got bombed on Monday night but they did the bombing in the second game of the series. Freddie Freeman, Dansby Swanson and Nick Markakis each homered. Sean Newcomb allowed only three singles in six innings and each of those batters was subsequently erased on a double play. Braves reliever Luke Jackson got a save. In a 13-run win. Wheee, stats.
Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Madison Bumgarner made his first start of 2018 and he pitched pretty darn well, allowing only two runs over six innings. Problem was that Patrick Corbin allowed only one run in six and a third and Bumgarner’s teammates could only scratch across two themselves on the night. Paul Goldschmidt had three hits for Arizona. Jake Lamb hit an RBI single in the ninth which served as a nice insurance policy in light of a too-little, too-late rally by the Giants in the final frame.