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And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

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Hi folks. As I mentioned on Friday, I spent the weekend in West Virginia watching Appalachian League baseball and, boy howdy, did I have fun. I’ll be writing a handful of posts about it this week, some short, some longer, but suffice it to say that it was one of the best baseball experiences I’ve ever had. Sadly we cannot move a major league team to Bowen Field in Bluefield, where it would be WAY better to watch games than literally any of the big league parks these days. But man, if we could.

For now, though, it’s back to the big leagues, so let’s do some recaps. Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 11, Red Sox 1: Aaron Hicks hit three homers and drove in four, Gleyber Torres knocked in three with a three-run shot and Aaron Judge went deep too, as the Yankees roughed up David Price and atoned for getting roughed up themselves on Saturday. All of those runs were somewhat unnecessary as Luis Severino shut Boston out into the seventh. New York takes two of three in the three-game series.

Orioles 8, Angels 2: Mark Trumbo hit two homers and Manny Machado and Trey Mancini each hit one as the Orioles snap their seven game losing streak. After the game Buck Showalter said “we’re undefeated in July.” Gotta keep your sense of humor, I suppose, or else you’ll go mad.

Tigers 9, Blue Jays 1: The Tigers had an even longer losing streak going than the O’s and they snapped theirs too. Nick Castellanos hit a grand slam in the Tigers’ five-run fifth. He almost hit another homer but Kevin Pillar did this:

That looked like one of those fake videos people made a few years ago of guys climbing 10 feet up walls and stuff. And my god did he cover ground before snagging that, didn’t he?

Reds 8, Brewers 2: Like in the Tigers game, the winning team had a five-run inning and a grand slam. Here the winning team was the Reds and the grand slam came from Jose Peraza. Peraza on his homer:  “I just tried to hit the ball. When I hit the ball in the sky, I say, `Wow, it’s a home run.’ Everybody is happy.” There are a lot of baseball writers who are paid a lot of money to describe the game in fascinating and complicated ways, but Peraza pretty much nails it.

Mets 5, Marlins 2: New York decided that one day in last place was enough, so they beat the Marlins and climbed out of last place. At least that’s what I assume they decided. Either way, Steven Matz and three relievers worked their way around three Mets errors and held the Marlins to four hits.

Rays 3, Astros 2: The Astros were the hottest team in baseball for much of June but they ended the month — and began July — by dropping three of four to the Rays. Blake Snell allowed one run and struck out ten while pitching into the eighth. He’s also on the cover of the program that the Class-A Princeton Rays of the Appalachian league are selling at their ballpark right now, but I bet he doesn’t know that. Evan Gattis hit two homers in a losing cause.

Phillies 4, Nationals 3: It got to the 13th inning, it was like a million degrees and Andrew Knapp said “I wanna go home,” so he hit a walkoff pinch hit homer to give Philly the win. The Phillies won three of four, all by one run. The Nationals are 6-15 in their past 21 games and fall six games behind Atlanta in the NL East. Good thing they fired Dusty Baker, huh?

Braves 6, Cardinals 5: Mike Foltynewicz cruised for five, giving up only one hit and no runs, while Atlanta built up a 6-0 lead. He left at that point and the Braves pen tossed one scoreless inning but then the Cards rallied for five runs in the seventh to make a game out of it. That was all they’d get, though, as the Braves held on to sweep the three-game series. The Cards have lost four in a row.

Cubs 11, Twins 10: The Cubs had an 8-0 and a 9-1 lead, thanks in large part to Jon Lester, who hit a three-run homer in the second inning. He wasn’t terribly sharp, allowing four runs, two earned, in five, but that was enough for the win on a day when he had a lot of run support. But just barely. The Twins, who found themselves in that early hole because Lance Lynn was shellacked, clawed back with a couple runs here, a couple runs there and then five in the eighth to make it close, but close was all they’d get. Minnesota played six straight games in Chicago, facing the Cubs and White Sox, and went 1-5. They’re nine back of the Indians and are 35-45. This after a lot of folks picked them as a wild card team or, perhaps, even a frisky pick for the Central. Oh well.

White Sox 10, Rangers 5: Avisail Garcia had four hits and Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu each had three RBI as the Chisox avoid a sweep. Shin-Soo Choo extended his on-base streak to 42 games. Cole Hamels gave up seven runs on nine hits in five innings. Woof.

Indians 15, Athletics 3: The Indians hit 11 doubles. That’s . . . a lot of doubles. Francisco Lindor hit two of those doubles and he also homered. Jose Ramirez, Yonder Alonso and Lonnie Chisenhall each had two doubles too. Edwin Encarnacion also homered as the Indians avoided a sweep and ended the A’s six-game winning streak.

Mariners 1, Royals 0: Yesterday was Canada Day. James Paxton is Canadian and it was his day too. He was pretty awesome in fact. But don’t take my word for it. Just ask the Mariners’ social media folks:

Dodgers 6, Rockies 4: Hero of the game, Matt Kemp. The old man — and in baseball, 33 is old — had three hits, one of which was a go-ahead homer in the eighth, and drove in four runs. That helped Los Angeles avoid a sweep and ended their three-game skid. Nolan Arenado hit a homer for the Rockies in the loss. He probably still feels like this.

Pirates 7, Padres 5: Pittsburgh had a four-run fifth, with all four runs the product of a Colin Moran grand slam. Corey Dickerson and Elias Diaz also homered for the Pirates, who took two of three games from the Padres.

Giants 9, Diamondbacks 6: The Giants sweep the Dbacks, have now won seven of eight and also move into a second place tie with the Dodgers, two and a half behind Arizona. Brandon Belt and Joe Panik drove in two runs each and Hunter Pence had a pinch-hit, two-run double.

Angels’ Andrelton Simmons opts out of final 5 games

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shortstop Andrelton Simmons has opted out of the remainder of the Los Angeles Angels’ season.

The Angels announced the four-time Gold Glove-winning shortstop’s decision Tuesday before they faced the San Diego Padres.

Los Angeles (24-31) is still technically in the playoff race with five games left in the regular season, and Simmons clearly caught the Angels by surprise, although the club said it respected his decision.

The 31-year-old Simmons, who can be a free agent this winter, is finishing his fifth year with the Angels. After spraining his ankle in late July and missing 22 games, Simmons is currently batting .297 with 10 RBIs while playing his usual stellar defense, albeit with four errors in 30 games.

“At this time, I feel this is the best decision for me and my family,” Simmons said in a statement. “We don’t know what the future holds, but we would like to sincerely thank the Angels organization and Angels fans for welcoming and making us feel at home.”

Manager Joe Maddon acknowledged he was caught by surprise when general manager Billy Eppler told him about Simmons’ decision Monday night after Simmons went 1 for 4 with an RBI single in the Angels’ home finale. Maddon texted Simmons, but hadn’t heard back by Tuesday afternoon.

“I’ve really enjoyed this guy a lot,” Maddon said. “I’m a big fan. This guy is a good baseball player, and I’ve enjoyed the conversations, too. It’s just unfortunate. He’s really a big part of what we’re doing right now.”

Simmons is a favorite of Angels fans for his defensive wizardry, and owner Arte Moreno has described Simmons as perhaps his favorite player to watch on the roster. Simmons has batted .281 with 36 homers and 281 RBIs during his five seasons with Los Angeles, and he won the Gold Glove in 2017 and 2018.

“He’s a thinking kind of a player, and I’ve enjoyed him a lot,” Maddon said.

Simmons will be a free agent this winter, and the Angels have an obvious replacement for him in David Fletcher, who has a .374 on-base percentage while regularly hitting leadoff for the Angels during his breakout major league season. Fletcher has been playing second base since Simmons’ return from injury.

But the Angels haven’t publicly closed the door on Simmons’ return, and he could be given a qualifying offer. Maddon has repeatedly said he would like Simmons to return in 2021 if possible.

The Angels haven’t had a winning season during Simmons’ five years in Anaheim, although Simmons said last week he wasn’t discouraged by the lack of team success. Simmons played his first four major league seasons in Atlanta, and he hasn’t appeared in the postseason since 2013.

Simmons also said he hadn’t been involved in any recent contract talks with the Angels, but he had enjoyed playing for the club. When asked if he wanted to return to the Halos, Simmons said he would have to “plead the fifth.”