And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Only four games last night since the day a lot of teams usually have off — Monday — featured a full schedule due to Labor Day. I have no proof of this, but I’m going to choose to believe that all of the players and the concession and stadium workers who were forced to work on a holiday celebrating the contributions of workers spent their makeup day off marching and singing old strike songs and remembering the Haymarket Affair and stuff.

Ah, nope. Oh well.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Padres 6, Reds 2: Francisco Mejia hit two homers — one a three-run shot — in his first full game in a Padres uniform. Brad Hand has been fine for Cleveland since that trade, but I suspect that the Padres are gonna be deemed the winner of the deal in the medium and long run. Possibly even the short run. Hunter Renfroe also went deep for the Padres.

In other news, this passage in the AP gamer about Mejia is telling:

Mejia connected on his first two swings against Luis Castillo (8-12) for his first homers in the majors . The 22-year-old prized prospect was called up Tuesday as the Padres get him ready for a bigger role next season.

That last bit is a reminder that the dudes being held down for service time reasons now, like Eloy Jimenez and Vlad Jr.,  will likewise be kept in the minors for the first few weeks of 2019 too, with the team saying they can’t just throw them in the cold water of the majors on Opening Day. Especially since their 2018 seasons ended early! And there won’t be a dang thing they or their agents can do about.

Cubs 6, Nationals 4: You may recall that, back in August, David Bote hit a two-out grand slam in the bottom of the ninth to give the Cubs a 4-3 win over Washington. He wasn’t as dramatic last night, but Bote once again came up big against the Nats, smacking a pinch-hit, go-ahead RBI double in the 10th inning to help the Cubs to victory. Daniel Murphy made his return to Nats Park after being traded to the Cubs a couple of weeks ago. He went 1-for-5 with a strikeout and scored a run.

Indians 9, Blue Jays 4: Francisco Lindor hit two solo homers and drove in two more with a single on his 4-for-5 night and Jason Kipnis hit a late three-run homer of his own. Shane Bieber allowed four runs — three earned — on seven hits in six and a third to pick up his ninth win. He didn’t need to be super sharp with Lindor hitting bombs.

Braves 7, Diamondbacks 6: For the second day in a row the Braves blew a late lead, this time giving up two in the ninth, one on a Paul Goldschmidt homer, to let the Dbacks tie things up and force extra innings. They lucked out in the tenth, however, when the Dbacks’ ninth pitcher of the game — Yoshihisa Hirano — came into a two-out, bases-loaded situation and . . . uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Dansby Swanson to come home with the go-ahead and, eventually, winning run for the Braves. In all fairness, Atlanta should’ve scored before that. With Swanson on base already, Tyler Flowers singled. Swanson likely could’ve scored since the ball had gotten away from the fielder, but he stumbled over the third base bag and had to go back. He’d score two batters later.

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.