And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 4: Mookie Betts came up to the plate with the Sox trailing 2-1 in the fourth, two outs and the bases loaded at which point he and J.A. Happ commenced to dueling. The duel was undecided after 12 pitches. It could’ve been over, though, as Justin Smoak couldn’t catch a pop foul at one point which would’ve ended the inning, but the battle wore on. Happ by this point was up to 97 pitches. On pitch 13, Betts deposited one over the Green Monster:

In addition to being just another chapter in the Big Book of Awesome Crap Mookie Betts Has Done, you have to figure this has ended any possibility of the Yankees being in on the trade market for Happ. Not only did they ring him up for six runs in his last start, but here he got bought, bagged, taken home and owned by the best player on their bitter rival. You think the Yankees want him on the mound for them if they’re in a key series against the Red Sox this September? Not by damn sight.

Pirates 6, Brewers 3: Every time I see Jameson Taillon‘s name I wonder if his parents named him after Jameson Whiskey. And if so, was it because, well, you know, they, um, enjoyed a few drams of it on a February evening in 1991. I’d never ask him, though, because it would be rude and would say more about me and my bad taste and judgment than anything else. Also, it may open me up to questions about what I was doing in February 1991 and that’s probably best left unsaid. It might also inspire someone to ask what my parents were up to in late 1972, and that’s just the sort of thing that I, Cutty S. “Craig” Calcaterra never, ever want to know.

Anyway, Taillon struck out ten while allowing one run in six innings of work and Jordy Mercer knocked in four, all on singles.

Yankees 7, Indians 4: Brett Gardner homered twice Didi Gregorius went deep and Greg Bird knocked in a couple to bail out Luis Severino on a night that he didn’t have his best stuff. They did it against Corey Kluber, who also did not have his best stuff, allowing six runs on eight hits. Kluber probably shouldn’t have even been in the game in the eighth inning, when the Yankees took the lead for good, but the Indians bullpen has been bad lately and Terry Francona doesn’t have any confidence in it. Imagine, after the past couple of years of it being one of the best pens in the business, it now being the team’s chief liability. Bullpens will do that to ya, though. Wouldn’t trust one as far as I could throw one.

Dodgers 3, Padres 2: Newest N.L. All-star Ross Stripling tossed six shutout innings and was still the pitcher of record for Los Angeles when they scored three runs in the top of the seventh via RBI singles from Andrew Toles, Matt Kemp and Joc Pederson. With the win the Dodgers take sole possession of first place in the NL West for the first time this season. Who woulda thunk it back in late April and early May?

Athletics 6, Astros 4: The A’s fell behind early but clawed back and then had a big three-run eighth inning capped by a Mark Canha two-run single to take the game and the series. The A’s took three out of four against the Astros.

Rockies 5, Diamondbacks 1: The Rockies one again, even if they didn’t score more than a dozen and a half runs again. Kyle Freeland pitched six-hit ball into the sixth inning, Trevor Story homered, DJ LeMahieu had two hits and drove in a run and Gerardo Parra and Raimel Tapia had pinch-hit RBI singles in a three-run sixth inning. The Rockies took two of three in the series.

Phillies 5, Orioles 4: Philly took a 5-0 lead via 12 hits off of Kevin Gausman. He was gone by the sixth and thus ended the scoring for the visitors, but they held on anyway and with the win took back over sole possession of first place in the NL East. Jorge Alfaro homered and knocked in three. This was a makeup game of a May rainout. The Phillies were supposed to have an offday in Miami, but instead they got a flight that didn’t get them into Baltimore until 3AM, this game and another flight out of town. The life of a major leaguer can be a pain sometimes but the money’s good.

Nationals 5, Mets 4Anthony Rendon hit two homers, Bryce Harper hit one and Max Scherzer struck out five over seven innings for his 12th win on the season. Scherzer will be on full rest for Tuesday if Dave Roberts feels like starting him on his home mound for the N.L. All-Stars, by the way. With the win the Nats are back over .500.

Twins 5, Rays 1: Kyle Gibson allowed one run over eight innings and struck out nine. Blake Snell, everyone’s favorite All-Star snub, had his shortest outing of the season, lasting only three innings and throwing just 43 of 75 pitches for strikes. The Rays’ five-game win streak comes to an end.

Angels 11, Mariners 2: Albert Pujols hit two homers, and in so doing he ties Ken Griffey Jr. on the all time dingers list at 630. His teammate, David Fletcher, hit his first career home run, tying a whole lot of guys on the career list. After the game, Pujols said “Griffey was everybody’s hero growing up.” Which is sort of weird hearing from Pujols given that Griffey still played for like a decade after Pujols came into the league, but I suppose it’s all relative.

Biden praises Braves’ ‘unstoppable, joyful run’ to 2021 win

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said the Atlanta Braves will be “forever known as the upset kings of October” for their improbable 2021 World Series win, as he welcomed the team to the White House for a victory celebration.

Biden called the Braves’ drive an “unstoppable, joyful run.” The team got its White House visit in with just over a week left before the 2022 regular season wraps up and the Major League Baseball playoffs begin again. The Braves trail the New York Mets by 1.5 games in the National League East but have clinched a wildcard spot for the MLB playoffs that begin Oct. 7. Chief Executive Officer Terry McGuirk said he hoped they’d be back to the White House again soon.

In August 2021, the Braves were a mess, playing barely at .500. But then they started winning. And they kept it up, taking the World Series in six games over the Houston Astros.

Biden called their performance of “history’s greatest turnarounds.”

“This team has literally been part of American history for over 150 years,” said Biden. “But none of it came easy … people counting you out. Heck, I know something about being counted out.”

Players lined up on risers behind Biden, grinning and waving to the crowd, but the player most discussed was one who hasn’t been on the team in nearly 50 years and who died last year: Hall of Famer Hank Aaron.

Hammerin’ Hank was the home run king for 33 years, dethroning Babe Ruth with a shot to left field on April 8, 1974. He was one of the most famous players for Atlanta and in baseball history, a clear-eyed chronicler of the hardships thrown his way – from the poverty and segregation of his Alabama youth to the racist threats he faced during his pursuit of one of America’s most hallowed records. He died in January at 86.

“This is team is defined by the courage of Hank Aaron,” Biden said.

McGuirk said Aaron, who held front office positions with the team and was one of Major League Baseball’s few Black executives, was watching over them.

“He’d have been there every step of the way with us if he was here,” McGuirk added.

The president often honors major league and some college sports champions with a White House ceremony, typically a nonpartisan affair in which the commander in chief pays tribute to the champs’ prowess, poses for photos and comes away with a team jersey.

Those visits were highly charged in the previous administration. Many athletes took issue with President Donald Trump’s policies and rhetoric on policing, immigration and more. Trump, for his part, didn’t take kindly to criticism from athletes or their on-field expressions of political opinions.

Under Biden, the tradition appears to be back. He’s hosted the NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks and Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the White House. On Monday he joked about first lady Jill Biden’s Philadelphia allegiances.

“Like every Philly fan, she’s convinced she knows more about everything in sports than anybody else,” he said. He added that he couldn’t be too nice to the Atlanta team because it had just beaten the Phillies the previous night in extra innings.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was later questioned about the team’s name, particularly as other professional sports teams have moved away from names – like the Cleveland Indians, now the Guardians, and the Washington Redskins, now the Commanders – following years of complaints from Native American groups over the images and symbols.

She said it was important for the country to have the conversation. “And Native American and Indigenous voices – they should be at the center of this conversation,” she said.

Biden supported MLB’s decision to pull the 2021 All-Star Game from Atlanta to protest Georgia’s sweeping new voting law, which critics contend is too restrictive.