And That Happened: Sunday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rays 9, Red Sox 1: Boston’s August swoon and the Rays’ August surge continues, with Tampa Bay sweeping the Sox and outscoring baseball’s best team 24-5 in the three-game series. Blake Snell tossed two-hit ball over six innings, allowing one run and striking out eight. Rays sleeper agent Nate Eovaldi dug a hole for the Red Sox and Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run triple. That’s eight in a row for the Rays and 10 of 12. Boston, meanwhile, has lost six of eight and find their lead over the Yankees reduced to a mere five games in the loss column. September may very well be more interesting in the AL East than we first assumed.

Yankees 5, Orioles 3: The Yankees cutting into the Sox’ division lead was certainly aided by visiting the Orioles for a four-game set this weekend. Baltimore lost its eight straight thanks to Luke Voit going 3-for-3 with a two-run homer, Miguel Andujar picking up three hits and two RBI and Luis Severino picking up his 17th win. As Joe Sheehan wrote overnight in his newsletter — which you should definitely sign up for, as it provides a constant stream of fascinating baseball analysis — the Orioles are on course to make history for finishing the most games out of first place in the divisional era. Not only that, they are on course to finish more games behind the second-to-last team in divisional history. Just a towering achievement in comparative futility.

Athletics 6, Twins 2: Matt Chapman hit a pair of homers as the A’s finish the series having taken three of four from the Twins and open up a five-game lead over the Mariners for the second Wild Card slot. Tyler Austin also had two homers but he plays for the team that lost and teams that lost get less ink unless they do historic things like the Orioles are. Oakland now goes on to Houston, who they trail in the division by one and a half, for a big three-game series. After that it’s a four-game set at home against the M’s. Hell of a week coming up for the AL West.

Phillies 8, Blue Jays 3Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana hit back-to-back homers in the first inning and Maikel Franco and Wilson Ramos each hit two-run shots later in the game to help the Phillies avoid a sweep and to avoid losing more ground the East. The homer more people were talking about, however, was the one Kendrys Morales hit in the third inning, which gives him a seven-game homer streak. That puts him one game shy of matching the major league record, held by Ken Griffey, Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987), and Dale Long (1956).

White Sox 7, Tigers 2: Michael Kopech’s actual big league debut was cut short due to rain, so he’ll likely think of this as his debut even if it wasn’t. It helps that it was a memorable performance on the merits too (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4K). Daniel Palka hit a two-run homer and Yoan Moncada tripled in a run for the Chisox. For the Tigers it was most memorable as the day Alan Trammell’s number was retired. Which should’ve been done AGES ago rather than allowing Gary Sheffield and Ian Kinsler to wear it in the interim, but c’est la vie.

Nationals 15, Mets 0: Washington had not scored a run since Wednesday heading into this game. And they didn’t score a run until the sixth inning here. Heck, it was only 1-0 Washington heading into the top of the eighth, but then the business got out of control. It got out of control and the Mets were lucky to live through it. Specifically, the Nats unloaded for eight runs, after which they scored six in the ninth. A great deal of that offense was delivered via homers from Adam Eaton and Wilmer Difo, a three-run double by Bryce Harper and a grand slam from Mark Reynolds. From the AP gamer: “Mets manager Mickey Callaway was startled by how quickly a one-run game turned into a blowout.” I guess at some point it’s just like watching it on TV, wondering what’s gonna happen next.

Braves 4, Marlins 0: Another Kevin Gausman start in a Braves uniform, another bunch of goose eggs. Here he allowed one hit over five shutout innings to grab his fourth win in five starts as a Braves, lowering is ERA as a Brave to 1.69. The Marlins ended up with only two hits in all as Atlanta earns a split in a series in which their bats were mostly silent.

Brewers 7, Pirates 4Mike Moustakas and Manny Pina each hit two-run homers in Chris Archer‘s disastrous third inning and Jonathan Schoop hit a dinger later. Overall Archer gave up six runs in four innings, at one point surrendering five hits in a row. As noted at the time, the Pirates picking up Archer was a double-faceted move: they were mildly hot at the time, had a chance ant putting themselves into contention and saw Archer as a nice piece to help the stretch run. They also got him because he’s under team control for a couple of more years and he’s a good piece to build around for short-to-mid-term contention. The latter considerations still apply, but that former consideration hasn’t really worked out too well. As a Pirate, Archer is 1-2 with a 6.45 ERA in five starts since the Buccos acquired him.

Indians 12, Royals 5: Jason Kipnis had four hits and drove in four runs, including a two-run inside-the-park homer. Which, like a lot of inside-the-park homers, involved a bad bounce, an outfielder falling down and another outfielder not coming over to back up his fallen comrade. Meh:

Cleveland avoids a series sweep at the hands of the lowly Royals.

Cubs 9, Reds 0: Kyle Hendricks allowed only two hits in seven shutout innings and Kyle Schwarber and David Bote hit homers in the Cubs’ rout. Or Rote. Jason Heyward went 4-for-4 with a triple and drove in two. The Reds were shut out for their ninth time this year.

Cardinals 12, Rockies 3:  The Cards scored six runs in the first inning — all with two outs — and the rest was all stats accumulation. Matt Carpenter hit four doubles. That’s a pretty neat stat. The Cards took two of three from the Rockies and won their ninth straight series.

Giants 3, Rangers 1: Derek Holland allowed one run on only three hits while pitching into the seventh, upping his record to 1-0 all time in games following moderately embarrassing TV spots that resulted in an apology for racial insensitivity. Steven Duggar hit a two-run triple. Bruce Bochy on Holland’s performance after the game:

“Just pitched a beautiful game. It’s great to see players like Derek, who it looks like they may be toward the end of their career, bounce back and show that there’s a lot of game left in what they have.”

Holland is 31. I know it’s a younger man’s game now than it was even a few short years ago, but man that’s a hell of a quote.

Astros 3, Angels 1Framber Valdez gave up one run over five in his first career start and Carlos Correa drove in two. Houston wins its fifth in a row to keep its lead over the A’s in anticipation of their big series.

Dodgers 7, Padres 3: Justin Turner went 3-for-5, hit two doubles and drove in five runs, Manny Machado hit a two-run homer and the Dodgers swept San Diego. Turner has been on fire in August, hitting .405 this month with five home runs, 19 RBI, 19 runs and 10 doubles. The Padres had their chances against Hyun-Jin Ryu, but despite knocking 11 hits and drawing a walk off of him in less than six innings, they only plated two.

Diamondbacks 5, Mariners 2: Zack Greike allowed one run — unearned — while pitching into the seventh. Paul Goldschmidt‘s three-run homer in the third was the big blow for the Snakes, who put a game between themselves and Colorado in the NL West.

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

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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.