Associated Press

And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 14, Marlins 12: The Marlins jumped out to a 9-0 lead after four innings and a bunch of smart alecks tweeted things about where the Nationals are in the standings and the efficacy of that team-only meeting they had. Trea Turner decided enough was enough at that point, however, hit a solo homer, knocked in a run on a fielder’s choice, smacked a grand slam and later singled in two runs on his eight-RBI night to lead a massive comeback. That salami put the Nats on top 10-9 in the sixth, they’d add four more in the seventh and then hold on as the Marlins mounted a too-little, too-late comeback. Washington had dropped 17 of 22 but they own the Marlins, so it’s hard to put too much narrative weight on a single game. That said, if the Nats go on a run now and get back into the division race like a lot of people figured they eventually would, this game will feature pretty centrally in the tale-telling of the 2018 season.

Rangers 7, Tigers 5: The Rangers jumped out to a 7-0 lead and, unlike the Marlins, didn’t blow it. They tried — the Tigers mounted a five-run rally following a rain delay and had the potential winning run at the plate with no one out in the ninth inning, but Keone Kela locked it down. Joey Gallo hit a massive two-run homer that went behind the lower deck in right field at Comerica Park, which is not close. Ronald Guzman added a two-run shot of his own that did not go as far but which counted for just as much.

Brewers 7, Braves 2: Jhoulys Chacin started out a bit rocky, giving up two quick runs, but that’s all he or any other Brewer pitcher would allow. Hernan Perez homered and had three hits in all. Milwaukee has won four straight. Atlanta has dropped three straight.

Twins 5, Orioles 2: Twins starter Aaron Slegers allowed one run over six, Jake Cave doubled home a run and reached base all four times he came to the dish and Logan Morrison went deep. Jonathan Schoop hit two homers for Baltimore’s only offense. Baltimore has lost 10 of 11. My God, are they terrible.

Astros 4, White Sox 3: Down 3-2 in the ninth, George Springer hit an RBI single to tie things up and then Yuli Gurriel hit a walkoff RBI single to give Houston the comeback win. Springer had been in a bad slump leading up to that hit, so he used Jose Altuve‘s bat in an effort to change his luck. Springer:

“My bat wasn’t seeming to work, so I figured I would try somebody else’s bat so I went with the hit king. I went with 27.”

Attorneys for Pete Rose are drafting a cease and desist letter as we speak, strongly urging Springer t reconsider his use of the phrase “hit king” to refer to anyone else but Rose. He’s rather sensitive about that, you may recall.

Padres 6, Diamondbacks 3Wil Myers tripled, singled and drove in two, Carlos Asuaje reached base four times and knocked in a run, Austin Hedges homered and starter Eric Lauer was solid. The Dbacks have now dropped six of seven and fell percentage points behind the idle Dodgers for first place in the NL West with the loss.

Mariners 4, Angels 1: Check out Dee Gordon being ridiculous:

That came as the Angles had a couple men on and were trying to mount a rally in the eighth. There would be no rallies thanks in part to Gordon and, it should be noted, thanks in part to the Angels bats, which were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. Marco Gonzalez allowed one run over six, Gordon also singled in a run and tripled in the seventh, going on to score the M’s fourth of the game. Seattle has won 10 of 12.

Cardinals 11, Giants 2: Luke Weaver pitched two-hit ball over eight innings. He actually had a perfect game heading into the sixth, in fact. Alen Hanson‘s two-run shot that frame would be all the runs he’d allow, however. Jedd Gyorko hit a three-run homer and doubled in a couple more on his five RBI night as the Cards cruised. Johnny Cueto made his return from the disabled list for the Giants. he was lit up for four runs in the first and five runs on ten hits in five innings in all.

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.