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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 5, Marlins 2: Braves win, that’s great, but obviously the takeaway from this game was Jose Urena‘s completely classless and idiotic intentional drilling of Ronald Acuña on the game’s first pitch. Bill said just about everything that needs to be said about it last night, but please indulge me as a I express my feelings on the matter.

Baseball needs to make a major example of Urena and the Marlins for this. Not just for basic, perfectly sufficient “it is wrong to throw a ball nearly 100 m.p.h. at someone with the intention of hitting them” reasons. Also for “it is an awful look for the game in general when a pitcher for a losing team that has made a mockery of the notion of entertaining and competitive baseball via its complete disinterest in putting a real roster together because it places more value on debt service and cash flow than it does wining to intentionally injure one of the game’s most exciting young talents and, potentially, alter the course of a pennant race, simply because that exciting young talent is playing very good baseball lately.”

And it’s not just Urena and the Marlins. It’s the entire establishment of baseball which has decided, via its moronic devotion to a mindless chivalric code developed by the same jackasses who, once upon a time, decided that racially segregating the game was right and proper, that sure, there are some times when you must do violence for reasons they can’t even begin to explain because, with all due respect to the talents of baseball players, managers and executives, a great lot of them are frankly stupid and a great many more of them are moral and ethical simpletons. Even the ones we have all decided are lovable for some stupid reason.

Apologies for the run-on sentences and apologies if my feelings on this matter are less than clear.

Cubs 8, Brewers 4: Anthony Rizzo homered, drove in three runs and stole two bases, Jason Heyward had three hits and two RBI and David Bote had two hits, scored twice and flashed nice leather at third as the Cubs bounced back from their ugly shutout loss on Tuesday and extended their division lead back to three games over Milwaukee. Sorry for even more run-on sentences. I’m still rather worked up over the Urena-Acuã thing. I have my annual physical at 8:30 this morning. My doctor is probably gonna hospitalize me when he takes my blood pressure.

Cardinals 4, Nationals 2: Austin Gomber shut Washington out for six innings and Daniel Poncedeleon did it for two more innings before running out of gas while trying to get a three-inning save. Didn’t matter, though, as Bud Norris came in and closed it out before things got out of hand, giving the Cardinals their eighth straight win. Marcell Ozuna homered, Harrison Bader singled in one run and scored another on a wild pitch and Yadier Molina knocked in one as well. The Cardinals are tied in the loss column with the Brewers now for the second Wild Card. Meanwhile, the Nats have been trailing by a lot of games for many weeks but this is the week we’ll look back on and say “Yep, that’s when they broke. That’s when they gave up on the 2018 season.

Mariners 2, Athletics 0: This game was scoreless after nine very, very quick innings thanks to efficient and effective work from Mike Leake (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6K) and Brett Anderson (7.2 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2K). You just don’t see a ton of games like that anymore, but I can certainly say it brightened my afternoon to watch such good work. On to extras it went where it remained scoreless for two more innings. In the top of the 12th, Yusmeiro Petit walked Mike Zunino immediately after which Dee Gordon deposited a two-run homer over the right field fence which held up to give Seattle a much-needed win and to avoid the sweep by the A’s. Oakland falls back to two games back of the Astros. The Mariners climb back to two and a half behind Oakland.

Astros 12, Rockies 1: Houston stops the five games of bleeding thanks to Gerrit Cole‘s one run, 12-strikeout performance and thanks to two homers from Evan Gattis, two homers from Tyler White and a dinger from Yuli Gurriel too. The 12 runs were more than Houston had scored in its last four games combined.

Mets 16, Orioles 5Kevin Plawecki hit a grand slam, Brandon Nimmo went 5-for-5 with three RBI and Todd Frazier singled, doubled homered and drove in four. The Mets had a nine-run sixth inning. I have tickets to see the Indians-Orioles game in Cleveland tomorrow. I’m struggling to think why I should be compelled to play full price if I’m only seeing one major league team.

Phillies 7, Red Sox 4: Welcome to the Phillies, Wilson Ramos! The recently-acquired and just-activated catcher went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple, drove in three runs and nailed a would-be base-stealer at second as Philly beats the mighty Red Sox. It was only Ramos’ second triple ever and it was, to be completely honest, a fluke thanks to an odd bounce off the wall. Even then, Jackie Bradley Jr. has a cannon for an arm, so once he got to the ball it was still fairly close at third. Fun play all around:

The Phillies used eight pitchers in this one. They should’ve let Ramos be one of them too. He probably would’ve struck out the side.

White Sox 6, Tigers 5: Matt Davidson and Jose Abreu each hit two-run homers in the middle of the game, turing a 3-2 deficit into a 6-3 lead and later held on as the Tigers plated a couple more. Carlos Rodon worked eight innings here, and those initial three runs would be all he’d allow.

Twins 6, Pirates 4: The Twins’ bullpen tossed 5.1 shutout innings and Logan Forsythe knocked in three runs. Chris Archer allowed four runs in five innings and the Pirates stranded a ton of runners and in dropping their third straight game.

Rays 6, Yankees 1Mallex Smith hit a two-run homer and Kevin Kiermaier had two hits, scored a run and drove in one. The Rays have taken seven of nine from the Yankees.

Indians 4, Reds 3:The Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead in this one but after plating two to pull close, Melky Cabrera hit a two-run homer in the sixth to put Cleveland up for good. The Indians sweep the Reds in Cincinnati, outscoring them 22-7 in the three-game set and, in the process, taking the Ohio Series 4-2. The Reds, I heard, bet the Indians a year’s supply of Cincinnati chili on the outcome of the Series but the Indians awkwardly declined collecting their winnings. Weird that.

Blue Jays 6, Royals 5: Curtis Granderson hit a grand slam in the Jays’ five-run fourth and Kevin Pillar knocked in the other two Toronto runs via a couple of RBI singles. Granderson has two grand slams this year. Both came against the Royals. He has ten for his career. All ten have come against the Ro– haha, just kidding. That would be silly. But I bet if I wrote it deadpan at least some of you would believe or, at the very least, go check. The power I possess is so great that sometimes even I reel at its possibilities.

Angels 3, Padres 2: Rene Rivera hit a solo homer to break a 2-2 tie in the top of the ninth, giving the Halos the win. He, like Wilson Ramos, was just activated before this game after a stint on the disabled list. Big day for fresh catchers.

Dodgers 4, Giants 3: It looked like another bullpen disaster in the making for the Dodgers as they blew a 3-0 lead in the eighth thanks to an Andrew McCutchen three-run homer, but Dodgers relievers then somehow pulled four scoreless innings out of their butts and Brian Dozier‘s sac fly in the bottom of the 12th gave them a much needed walkoff win. Another bright spot: Hyun-Jin Ryu throwing six scoreless innings in his first start in more than three months.

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.