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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores, here are the highlights:

Orioles 5, Yankees 4; Yankees 10, Orioles 2: CC Sabathia pitched five decent innings in this one. Unfortunately he was asked to pitch a sixth too, didn’t have anything and the O’s rallied for three off of him, with Danny Valencia‘s three-run homer knocking them all in. Mark Trumbo‘s two-run homer in the fourth accounted for the O’s other two runs in the first game. The nightcap was all New York, though, with the Yankees building a small lead into a big lead over the course of the game, taking an 8-0 lead by the eighth. Brett Gardner and Austin Romine each homered and drove in three. Nice redemption for Gardner who pinch hit in the ninth of the first game with a runner on third and failed to knock in the tying run.

Mets 4, Phillies 3; Phillies 3, Mets 1: Wilmer Flores hit a walkoff tenth inning homer in the first one. It also pushed him past David Wright for the most walkoff RBI in Mets’ history. He got a lucky break here too, in that he thought the pitch called ball three hit him, started walking to first base and even prompted a replay review of it. Good thing he was wrong. Game two featured Aaron Nola allowing one hit and striking out ten in seven shutout innings and driving in all three runs the Phillies would score in the game with a bases-loaded double in the fifth.

Pirates 6, Nationals 3: Gregory Polanco drove in four runs in the first two innings via a two-run double and a two-run homer. Pittsburgh scored all six of its runs in the first two innings in fact, as the Pirates sent Washington to their seventh defeat in their past ten games. Ten of their last fourteen too. An amusing thing happened here when the benches briefly cleared in the sixth inning. Adam Eaton was taking issue with a strike call with the home plate ump, stepping out of the box and taking forever to come back in. Pirates catcher Francisco Cervell walked away from the plate which angered Eaton for, as he said after the game, “making it a bigger deal than what it is” and “kind of isolate us” in the argument. I lost track of what you’re supposed to do and not supposed to in baseball a long time ago, but even when I tried to keep up I can’t say that I’ve heard someone get mad about this sort of thing. Whatever:

Red Sox 5, Rangers 0: Eduardo Rodriguez and four relievers combine to blank the Rangers. Steve Pearce hit a two-run shot in the first for Boston and J.D. Martinez hit a three-run homer in the eighth to make their lead nice and cozy. Martinez is hitting .331/.394/.654 with 28 homers and 77 RBI. He leads the AL in the latter two categories and trails only teammate Mookie Betts (.344) and Jose Altuve (.337) in average. I don’t suspect he has the contact skills to catch those two guys, but it’s close enough to where it’s worth flying the Triple Crown Watch flags down at the lighthouse.

Reds 7, Indians 5: Cincinnati had a 7-1 lead heading into the ninth and ended up winning but there was a four-run Cleveland rally in the final frame which at least made it interesting. Anthony DeSclafani allowed one run over seven and Scott Schebler was 4-for-5 with a homer. The Reds and Indians’ interleague battle each year is a contest for The Ohio Cup, which goes to the series the winner. The loser is forced to keep Ohio.

Marlins 4, Brewers 3: Bryan Holaday hit a walkoff single in the bottom of the tenth to lead the Fish to victory. He also hit a sac fly in the fourth. Holaday was only in the game because J.T. Realmuto was at the hospital with his wife who was giving birth. Starlin Castro and Brian Anderson hit back-to-back homers in the seventh as the worst team in the N.L. beat the best team in the N.L. That happens in baseball and no one bats an eye, which is one of the many things I love about baseball.

Rays 10, Tigers 9: The Rays had a 5-0 lead after the first inning but this one was just getting started at that point, with Detroit clawing back as the game went on. They tied it with a four-run seventh, the Rays scored two more in the bottom half but then the Tigers tied it up in the eighth to force extras. In the tenth we got yet another extra innings walkoff hit — there were three in all yesterday — when Daniel Robertson singled in Kevin Kiermaeir, who led off the inning with a triple — to give Tampa Bay the win.

Twins 3, Royals 1: Jose Berrios allowed one run over seven but left the game poised to lose it thanks to Danny Duffy shutting out Minnesota for six innings. The Twins’ bats rallied for a couple of that inning to give him the W and added an insurance run in the eighth. Eduardo Escobar had three hits and drove in the go-ahead run. The Royals have lost ten games in a row.

Athletics 2, Astros 0: Gerrit Cole and Frankie Montas each tossed six shutout innings and Cole struck out 11, but then Stephen Piscotty happened. The A’s right fielder homered off of Brad Peacock in the seventh and then singled in a run off of Will Harris in the eighth on his 3-for-4 night. The Astros managed only five hits off of Oakland pitching all night.

Dodgers 8, Padres 2: Clayton Kershaw is looking more like Clayton Kershaw with each of his starts since coming off the disabled list. Here he was vintage Kershaw, shutting out San Diego on only two hits over six. Andrew Toles and Justin Turner each drove in a couple. Turner and Cody Bellinger each had three hits.

Giants 2, Cubs 1: Kyle Hendricks was fantastic, allowing only an unearned run in eight and a third innings of work. But check out the unearned run, which scored on an Hendricks’ errant pickoff throw to first and somehow allowed the baserunner, Alen Hanson, to come all the way around:

Maybe Hendricks should’ve thrown it better and maybe Anthony Rizzo — who was charged with the error — should’ve dug it out, but I’m mostly wondering if Javier Baez, who fielded it, was conserving his energy because he had a triathlon or something after the game. Oh well. This one went extras with Pablo Sandoval delivering the walkoff win with a bases-loaded single in the 11th.

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.