And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rockies 10, Diamondbacks 3: Kyle Freelandwho, as Bill wrote last night is someone you should know better — picked up his 15th win while helping his own cause by doubling in a run. Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story homered. Arenado reached the 100 RBI plateau with his. In so doing the Rockies take three of four from Arizona, holding on to their one-and-a-half-game lead over the Dodgers in the NL West — two in the loss column — and shoving the fading Dbacks four and a half back. Arizona is 3-12 in September.

Mets 4, Marlins 3; Mets 5, Marlins 2Michael Conforto and Todd Frazier hit back-to-back homers with two outs in the ninth inning to give New York a walkoff 4-3 victory in the first game. Before that the Mets only had two hits in the whole game, though one of them was a homer from starter Steven Matz. In the nightcap Conforto knocked in three more runs and rookie Tomas Nido hit his first career homer. The Mets took three of four in the series and have won nine of 12 overall.

Cubs 4, Nationals 3: A makeup game that the Cubs have been complaining about having to play for some time carried with it some good news and some bad news. The good news: Cubs win, with Javier Baez bunting in a run in the top of the 10th:

Despite what the announcer said there, it was not Joe Maddon’s call. Baez decided to bunt for himself. The runner who scored — Kris Bryant — didn’t even know it was coming. Baez also homered and drove in three runs overall, pushing himself ahead of Trevor Story for the league lead in RBI, 103-102 and keeping himself in the thick of the MVP race.

The bad news for Chicago: reliever Pedro Strop batted for himself in that 10th inning and then strained a hamstring running to first base while trying to beat a double play ball. Losing Strop — as the Cubs are likely to for at least a couple of weeks given how hamstring injuries go — is a huge blow. He’s been closing for them since Brandon Morrow went down to injury and has been doing a fine job of it. Now he’s likely out at least until the playoffs start.

Mariners 8, Angels 2: Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer and he, Mitch HanigerRobinson Cano and Kyle Seager each had two hits as the M’s eliminate the Angels from playoff contention. Not that they were, practically speaking, in playoff contention of course. We just keep track of such things, much like Astinus — the worldly form of Gilean, God of Neutrality — who watches over the Great Library of Palanthas and scribes all history as it happens.

Wait, what?

Red Sox 4, Blue Jays 3: The Blue Jays rallied for two runs to tie the game up in the top of the eighth and then they coughed up a run to Boston when second baseman Yangervis Solarte dropped a popup which allowed Xander Bogaerts to score from third base to give the Sox the lead and, eventually, the game. Rafael Devers homered as Boston increased its lead in the AL East to ten and a half games and reduced its magic number for clinching the division to six.

Orioles 5, Athletics 3: The A’s had a six-game winning streak and the Orioles had a six-game losing streak coming into this one. Streaks: ended. Dylan Bundy allowed two runs on six hits and struck out eight in six innings. Tim Beckham hit a two-run single and John Andreoli and Breyvic Valera each knocked in a run as well. Jace Peterson knocked in the final O’s run with an RBI double and the O’s pen squelched a would-be eighth inning rally for Oakland.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 7Manny Machado homered, drove in three runs and made a nifty barehand play at short as well. David Freese had a big hit against his old mates, tripling in two runs in the first inning and helping Los Angeles build an early 8-1 lead. The Cards came back late, bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning, but a less-than-dominant Kenley Jansen closed it out. Pretty? Nah. But L.A. pulled to within one game of the second Wild Card slot, currently held by St. Louis. Three more games to go in this series.

Royals 6, Twins 4Heath Fillmyer allowed four runs but pitched into the eighth inning and the Royals came back from a small early deficit thanks to back-to-back homers from Sal Perez and Jorge Bonafacio in the sixth. Play of the game, though, was made by a non-roster participant:

Often when such plays happen the announcer will joke “sign that guy to a contract!” Given the state of the Royals these days it’d likely only be a partial joke. Like, no, the Royals wouldn’t sign him, but I’m not willing to say that a low level intern was not at least asked to, you know, do some quick checking on the guy’s high school stats or what have you.

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.