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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Reds 7, Rockies 5: Jesse Winker hit a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th inning to cap the Reds’ comeback. Cincinnati was down 5-2 in the eighth before Joey Votto knocked one in on a grounder and Eugenio Suarez brought the Reds to within one on a fielder’s choice. A Wade Davis wild pitch brought in the tying run in the bottom of the ninth to force extras. That was actually his second wild pitch of the inning. He also hit a batter. The Rockies have lost five of seven and the bullpen has been a big reason why.

Dodgers 8, Pirates 7: The Dodgers needed a spot starter for their spot starter, Dennis Santana, who was scratched just before the game. They didn’t have one so they used Johnny Wholestaff, who was acquired from Tampa Bay earlier in the day. Dave Roberts used nine pitchers in the nine inning game, with Pedro Baez the only one getting as many as six outs. Not too bad considering that, 12 hours before, he was optioned to Oklahoma City. Because of another injury, however, he never even got to the airport before being called back. Weird day. Anyway, Joc Pederson went deep twice and Cody Bellinger hit his third home run in the past three games to give the Dodgers their 15th win in their past 20.

Twins 7, White Sox 2: Eddie Rosario hit a three-run homer in the Twins’ four-run fourth and Eduardo Escobar hit a two run shot. The Eddies have been a two-man wrecking crew this year. Imagine where the Twins would be if any other batters bothered to apply to join the wrecking crew. Maybe they need more Eddies. Jose Berrios scattered six hits and allowed only two runs in a complete game win.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 1: Miles Mikolas allowed one run, unearned, on three hits over seven and was backed by homers from Jose Martinez and Luke Voit, the latter being a pinch-hit shot.

Cubs 4, Phillies 3: Anthony Rizzo homered and drove one in on a sac fly and Tommy La Stella and Kris Bryant had RBI singles as the Cubs win their fifth game in their past six. This came despite the fact that their starter, Tyler Chatwood, walked seven guys, hit a batter and threw pitches over dudes’ heads three times. The kicker: after the game he said he “felt the best I had in a while.”

Tigers 7, Red Sox 2: Jalen Beeks made his big league debut as the Red Sox starter. He’ll do his best to forget it, as he allowed five runs in his first inning of work, surrendering a two-run homer to Leonys Martin. Martin would also triple and score later in the game. Beeks’ counterpart, Matt Boyd, allowed two runs while pitching into the seventh.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 4: Baltimore took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the ninth but Brad Brach, who had not given up a run in his previous ten outings, coughed it up as Randal Grichuck doubled in two runs and Kevin Pilar singled him in to force extras. In the tenth Teoscar Hernandez led off with a double and a few batters later Aledmys Diaz singled him in for the walkoff win.

Mariners 5, Rays 4: Seattle built a four run lead by the ninth inning thanks to homers from Denard Span and Mitch Haniger and managed to hold on despite a Rays rally in the final frame. Mike Leake allowed one run in his first eight innings and was called out for the ninth without much in the tank. He gave up a leadoff double who Alex Colome allowed to score in addition to allowing a run of his own. Colome managed to shut the door on his former teammates before the day was lost, however.

Astros 5, Rangers 2: Cole beats Hamels, as Gerrit outpitches Cole. I could do this all day, folks. Haven’t had this much fun since we had two Zambranos in the league. Evan Gattis homered and drove in three and Alex Bregman hit a dinger too as Houston beats Texas, which come to think of it, is also a funny thing to say.

Athletics 4, Royals 1: Alcides Escobar and Matt Olson traded homers early but the A’s three-run sixth, led by Matt Chapman‘s two-run double, decided things. Athletics pitcher Paul Blackburn made his first appearance of the season, allowing one run over six. The Royals have lost five in a row.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.