And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 8, Phillies 7: Philly jumped out to a 3-0 lead, blew it, took a 5-4 lead, blew it, took a 6-5 and then a 7-5 lead and blew that too. The final blow was Ryan Zimmerman‘s two-out, two-run walkoff homer to give the Washington Dead Cats another win over Philly. The Phillies have lost four in a row and nine of 13 and are now three games behind NL East-leading Atlanta. Because . . .

Braves 2, Pirates 1: . . . Ronald Acuña got back into the leadoff homer business, Freddie Freeman knocked in a run on a sac fly and Julio Teheran had no trouble handling the punchless Pirates, tossing seven innings of one-run ball. Pittsburgh has scored seven runs in their last eight games, which is rather mind-boggling. It was bad enough here to allow the Braves to win despite getting only three hits on the afternoon.

Marlins 9, Yankees 3: The Yankees took a 2-0 lead into the bottom of the sixth behind Lance Lynn‘s five shutout innings but Lynn would blow up in his final frame of duty, surrendering five runs to the Marlins, with Miguel Rojas‘ three-run homer putting the Marlins ahead for good. Speaking of surrender, Lynn’s photo on the scoreboard makes him look like a Confederate private at the Battle of Shiloh:

He’s a Confederate soldier, not a Union soldier, by the way, because as everyone knows, Yankees have to shave. Anyway, when I see that photo I half expect to hear some voiceover artist saying “My dearest Martha . . . I tire of war and its blood red toll . . .” or some such thing while a lonesome fiddle solo plays softly in the background and David McCullough offers up some fact about how, like, soldiers’ rations consisted of literal mud and one piece of cornbread a month. Then Shelby Foote comes on the screen and talks about how, really, Robert E. Lee was the greatest abolitionist the country had ever seen, but that he simply had an Arthurian Duty to his beloved Virginia.

Um, sorry. Got carried away there. The upshot is that the Yankees split the brief series in Miami and now get a day off before a series against Baltimore. Lynn can think of it like a furlough from the front lines.

Diamondbacks 5, Angels 1: Nick Ahmed and David Peralta homered and Clay Buchholz — who himself looked like some scraggly-ass Civil War solider until a recent shave — pitches seven shutout innings. This coming off his last outing in which he allowed only one run in a complete game. Shelby Foote: “Many left home as boys . . . but came back as men, having grown by fighting for a cause that, while lost, was noble.” *crew winces, but realizes they can’t do anything about it this insane old man*

Rockies 6, Padres 2: Ian Desmond and Tony Wolters each drove in a pair and Jon Gray pitched effectively into the seventh to win his tenth game of the year. He’s been particularly effective in the seven starts he’s made since being recalled from Triple-A. Which is to say, he must have taken a right turn at Albuquerque.

Rangers 4, Athletics 2: Mike Minor gave up only one hit in six shutout innings and Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Gallo hit dingers as the Rangers avoid the sweep and put Oakland back a game in the AL West. Texas had been shut out by Oakland in the previous two games. After this one, Rangers manager Jeff Banister said this:

“Choo getting off early, getting a run on the board, allowed our offense to kind of settle in. It gave our guys some confidence to go out and swing the bat and attack.”

I don’t know why one would not swing the bats and attack before the Choo homer — especially in those two games when they were shut out — but I suppose casting it all as a matter of confidence and feel as opposed to saying “they were better than us the previous two games and we were better today” is not what people expect managers to say. There is a GREAT deal of what managers say after the fact that falls into this category, by the way.

Astros 10, Mariners 7: Houston led this one 8-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth and 9-1 heading into the bottom of the fifth, but Seattle didn’t roll over. I mean, they never caught up or anything, but they didn’t roll over and it was a two-run game between the sixth and the ninth. Martin Maldonado and Tyler White each homered and had three hits for Houston. After the game, speaking of his club almost blowing a big lead, A.J. Hinch said “You can’t hate how you win if you win.” Weird. I thought that mindset only applied to politics.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 0: The Jays’ Thomas Pannone took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the O’s David Hess took one into the fifth, but things unraveled late for Baltimore. Kendrys Morales‘ seventh inning homer — his fourth dinger in as many games — was all the scoring Toronto would need but they’d pile five more runs on anyway. The Jays sweep the three-game series, outscoring the O’s 19-5. Baltimore is entering 1899 Cleveland Spiders’ levels of anti-competitiveness as the season makes the turn towards home.

White Sox 7, Twins 3: Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico and Tim Anderson all homered — Engel’s was a tie-breaker — and Carlos Rodon allowed two runs over six innings as the Chisox win their sixth game in their last eight. Rodon is 5-1 with a 2.31 ERA over his last 10 starts.

Brewers 4, Reds 0: Freddy Peralta tossed seven shutout innings and [all together now] helped his own cause by knocking in a run. Christian Yelich homered, drove in a couple and reached base five times as Milwaukee takes two of three from the Reds.

Red Sox 10, Indians 4: Boston avoids its first four-game losing streak of the year thanks to two Xander Bogaerts homers, a Mitch Moreland shot and a three-run double from Andrew Benintendi, among other delights. Edwin Encarnacion hit a pair of two-run homers in his first game back since coming off the disabled list, providing Cleveland’s only offense.

Cubs 8, Tigers 2: Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs for not scoring a mere one run for the first time in almost a week. David Bote‘s three-run homer in the fifth assured that. Javier Baez‘s three-run homer and Anthony Rizzo‘s solo shot, both in the ninth, helped matters. Daniel Murphy was 2-for-5 and drove in a run in his Chicago debut. Jon Lester allowed just one run while pitching into the sixth.

Mets 5, Giants 3: The Mets’ run of respectable baseball continues. They took an early 3-0 lead thanks to a Dom Smith homer and RBIs from Todd Fraizer and Jeff McNeil. Jose Bautista and Frazier would each homer later in the game while Noah Syndergaard pitched six solid innings. New York is 12-7 in its last 19 games.

Rays 6, Royals 3: Tampa Bay wins its fourth in a row, but since three of them came against the Royals we only count them as two. Got that? Brandon Lowe and Mallex Smith drove in two runs each. The Rays moved five games over .500 for the first time in over a year.

Cardinals 3, Dodgers 1: A Joc Pederson homer in the sixth held up until Tyler O’Neill tied it up with a dinger of his own in the eighth. Kenley Jansen — whose wife gave birth late Tuesday night, but who stayed with the team anyway because it was his second kid and, God knows, second kids get the shaft ALL THE TIME — came into the tied game in the ninth and surrendered a two-run homer to Paul DeJong as the Cardinals win once again. Maybe Jansen should’ve gone on paternity leave? It was the Cardinals’ eighth straight road win and their first sweep in Dodger Stadium in 12 years.

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.