Getty Images

And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

25 Comments

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Indians 5, Twins 2: Cleveland had a 2-1 lead for several innings when the Twins tied it in the top of the ninth thanks to a Migel Sano homer (remember Miguel Sano?). Trevor Hildenberger was then called in by Paul Molitor because he knows the old baseball maxim of “make sure you use the reliever with the highest ERA in your bullpen in a tight game against a good team.” He also knows that, after he allows two base runners on, you leave that guy in to face one of the most dangerous batters in the game in Francisco Lindor. This is why, when Lindor hit a walkoff three-run homer to send the Twins to defeat, Molitor could sleep easy, knowing that he played this one by the book.

Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 5: Boston wins their 10th of 11 games and, as I said, oh, a dozen Red Sox wins ago, it’s almost getting boring. They’re even getting manna from heaven now, with Rafael Devers coming off the DL to hit a two-run homer. Tomorrow the Ghost of Ted Williams will probably fly in with his dog on a chrono-synclastic infundibulum and go 4-for-5 with three dingers. It’s just rolling that for the Red Sox these days. J.D. Martinez had three hits and Xander Bogaerts had three RBI, because Boston’s offense is powered by the Universal Will to Become.

Diamondbacks 6, Phillies 0: Patrick Corbin pitched shutout ball into the eighth, Eduardo Escobar knocked in three and David Peralta had four hits and plated a couple. The Dbacks own a half-game lead in the NL West right now and head out on a nine-game road trip in which they face three weak teams in the Reds, Rangers and Padres. Things are looking pretty decent. The Phillies, meanwhile, lost a game of ground to Atlanta, which . . .

Braves 8, Nationals 3: . . . beat the Nats pretty soundly, thanks to Charlie Culberson‘s three-run homer and two-run blasts from Ronald Acuña and Tyler Flowers. Acuña also did this:

Atlanta has won eight of 10 to move within a half-game of the Phillies. Washington is now six games back.

Yankees 7, White Sox 3: It was tied early but Giancarlo Stanton‘s second inning grand slam ended that nonsense and, effectively, ended the game. Aaron Hicks would also go deep as Luis Severino allowed three runs in seven to pick up his 15th win on the year. It was Severino’s first win in a month. It was, somehow, Stanton’s first grand slam in four years. I guess it’s maybe not that surprising given that three of those years were spent in Miami and it wasn’t like he had a conga line of base runners in front of him down there, but still.

Mets 8, Reds 0: I wrote about this one yesterday afternoon. Short version: Jacob deGrom can’t do it by himself and, yesterday, for the first time in ages, he didn’t have to.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: Trey Mancini hit a go-ahead two-run double in the ninth to give Baltimore the win. The Orioles committed five errors. It was the first time they’ve done that since 1983. Of course, they also won the World Series in 1983, so maybe this is important. This means somethings. *sculpts potatoes.*

Rangers 11, Mariners 7: Joey Gallo homered twice and knocked in four. Our dude even raised his average to a cool .200. Way to go, Joey! Yovani Gallardo allowed two runs on three hits, in six innings of work, winning his seventh game in nine starts this season. deGrom would love to talk to him about how to get run support, I imagine. Mike Zunino hit two homers for the Mariners in a losing cause.

Pirates 4, Rockies 3: Chris Archer‘s second start as a Pirate went better than his first, allowing two runs over five innings. He did give up a homer. After the game he said, “The homer I gave up was one of the only times I shook Cervelli off. That was my bad. I should have listened to him.” I’d like to think that Cervelli told the batter what was coming. The Pirates took two of three from Colorado, which scored only six runs in the series.

Angels 6, Tigers 0Kole Calhoun hit a leadoff homer and Justin Upton and Albert Pujols hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning as the Angels cruised. Detroit has lost six in a row, three of which have been shutouts. We all knew there would come a time when the Tigers, which overachieved a decent bit early in the season would crater, and here we are.

Cardinals 7, Marlins 1: Water wet, sky blue, dog bites man, Matt Carpenter homers again. It was a tiebreaking number for the second straight game, this one coming to lead off the sixth inning. John Gant allowed only one run in six innings and, at one point, he and his relief combined to retire 21 Marlins batters in a row so, no, this one was not particularly competitive after a certain point.

Brewers 8, Padres 4: Jesus AguilarTravis Shaw and Eric Thames hit back-to-back-to-back first-inning homers against Padres starter Brett Kennedy, who was making his major league debut. In addition to the homers, he allowed seven straight batters to reach in the first inning. At least he’ll always remember it. Orlando Arcia and Christian Yelich also homered for the Brewers. Someone check the bus stations for Kennedy. He may be back there trying to buy himself a ticket to El Paso.

Royals 9, Cubs 0: Heath Fillmyer — a real pitcher, I just checked — got hit hard early too, though it was only in the literal sense. He was hit by an Anthony Rizzo comebacker early in the game but he shook that off and shut the Cubs out for seven innings and got the win. Adalberto Mondesi and Drew Butera each drove in three runs, Mondesi via a three-run blast.

Athletics 3, Dodgers 2: Newest Athletic Mike Fiers didn’t win this one — he was facing Clayton Kershaw and they both dealt pretty well — but he allowed only one run on four hits while pitching into the sixth and at least stood to be the winner when he left. Chris Taylor tied the game up with an RBI single in the seventh but Khris Davis hit into a run-scoring fielder’s choice in the eighth to put Oakland up to stay. Oakland won for the seventh time in eight games and pulled to within five of the idle Astros. The Dodgers fell a half game back of the Dbacks.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

Getty Images
7 Comments

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.