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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Exciting stuff as a the season enters its final four days.

  • The Brewers beat the Cardinals, and that loss by St. Louis clinched a playoff spot for both the Cubs and Milwaukee. Chicago maintains a one game lead over the Brewers in the loss column in the NL Central;
  • Meanwhile, the Rockies won their sixth in a row and the Dodgers lost, putting Colorado ahead of L.A. by a half game — one in the loss column — in the NL West;
  • The Dodgers maintain a one-game lead over St. Louis for the final Wild Card; and
  • The only other thing left to determine is home field in the Wild Card game in the American League, which the Yankees currently have over Oakland by two games in the loss column.

The Athletics, Brewers, Cardinals, and Dodgers are all off tonight. Then it’s a three-game sprint to figure it all out. In the meantime, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rockies 14, Phillies 0: Rockies starter German Marquez struck out the first eight Phillies batters of the game and ended up striking out 11 while allowing only three hits in seven shutout innings. He needn’t have been so dominant given that his teammates jumped all over Nick Pivetta and the Phillies pen, with David Dahl, Trevor Story, Ian Desmond and Drew Butera all going deep. The Rockies have outscored the Phillies 34-4 in the first three games of this series and, the Geneva Convention notwithstanding, have to play again today. Colorado has won six in a row and now leads the NL West.

Cubs 7, Pirates 6: Alberto Almora hit a walkoff single in extra innings but the Cubs were going to celebrate regardless thanks to that Cardinals loss clinching them a playoff spot. They didn’t do the full champagne thing — they’re waiting to win the division for that — but happiness is happiness. This game may not have even gone to extra innings, however, if it were not for a fan taking a foul ball from Anthony Rizzo:

It wasn’t fan interference — fans have a right to balls in foul territory — but it nonetheless gave Francisco Cervelli new life which allowed him to reach on a rally-starting double that tied the game up and sent it into the ninth. Good that the Cubs fans have that out of their system. I’d hate to see what happened if one ever — perish the thought — interfered with a Cubs fielder during a playoff game. That might make the news!

Twins 11, Tigers 4: Johnny Field homered twice. More like Johnny Hit, am I right? Jorge Polanco hit a bases-loaded triple. This one was actually close until the fifth inning and it, probably, should’ve remained close then, but something nutty happened. With men on first and second, a Twins batter hit a hard liner to second base. It looked like it would be — and probably should’ve been — a triple play. Batter out on the line-out, runners at both first and second doubled off base. The Tigers appeared to get the guy on second, but then the throw to double off the guy on first went wild. On top of THAT, the Twins used replay to reveal that the Tigers fielder wasn’t touching second base when they tried to double off the lead runner, meaning that only the batter was out:

Still alive, Twins hitters went on to score five runs that inning.

Red Sox 19, Orioles 3; Orioles 10, Red Sox 3: After the first game I tweeted something like “I wonder if the Orioles should just forfeit the nightcap and go out to dinner instead.” Then they go out and beat Boston handily in Game 2. Goes to show you that you never know what’s gonna happen in baseball and that there’s no such thing as momentum. In the first one the Red Sox hit five homers and nine doubles, Mookie Betts joined the 30/30 club and Xander Bogaerts knocked in his 100th run on the season. In the second game, Chris Sale left trailing 3-2 but then it was all Baltimore. Trey Mancini drove in three. Adam Jones hit the go-ahead RBI double. Renato Nunez and John Andreoli each knocked in a pair.

Nationals 9, Marlins 3: This may have been Bryce Harper‘s last home game as a National. When asked about whether he’ll be thinking about it before the game he joked that he’d have plenty of time because, given how much it has rained in DC lately, there will probably be delays. The game was, of course, washed out early depriving Dave Martinez the chance to take Harper out of the game while he was in the outfield in the ninth to get an ovation. As it was he finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Fellow Nats outfielder Victor Robles, however, homered, doubled, went 4-for-5 and drove in five runs.

Blue Jays 3, Astros 1: Seven Blue Jays pitchers combined to allow one run on five hits while Randal Grichuk and Reese McGuire went deep. The Astros lost but they still did the champagne celebration after the game since, late the previous evening, Oakland lost, thus giving Houston the AL West title. I suppose that’s rather weird, but to be honest, getting bombed on bubbly after a loss is not the worst way to put that loss behind you.

Royals 6, Reds 1: Rookie starter Heath Fillmyer struck out nine in seven and a third innings of one-run ball and also got his first big league hit and RBI. Alex Gordon went 2-for-4, drove in two and homered. Adalberto Mondesi tripled, scored two runs and stole two bases. Kansas City won its third straight and fourth in its last five games. The Reds have lost five in a row.

Brewers 2, Cardinals 1: Travis Shaw knocked in both Brewers’ runs to give Milwaukee its third straight win over the Cardinals, its fourth win in a row and, most importantly, helped them clinch a playoff spot.

Mets 3, Braves 0: Jacob deGrom, I believe anyway, clinched the Cy Young Award with yet another dominant outing, two-hitting the Braves over eight innings and striking out ten. That lowers his ERA to 1.70 on the season that, a 10-9 record notwithstanding, is moronic to deny earns him the hardware. He also ends the season with 269 strikeouts to only 46 walks. He gave up only ten dingers. He pitched only one game — way back on April 10 — in which he gave up more than three earned runs. On that day he gave up four. Just silly dominance. Hand him his trophy.

Rays 8, Yankees 7: Both clubs scored three in the first and both clubs scored four in their final inning at the plate, but the Rays got an extra run across in the third via a Tommy Pham homer which made the difference. Aaron Boone said before the game that he wasn’t sure if Masahiro TanakaJ.A. Happ or Luis Severino would start the Wild Card game against the A’s next week, but if this was Tanaka’s audition he flunked it, giving up four runs and six hits and not making it out of the fifth. Three of Tampa Bay’s runs were unearned.

Indians 10, White Sox 2: Shane Bieber tossed six scoreless innings, Francisco Lindor hit a leadoff homer and Edwin Encarnacion finished 3-for-4 with a three-run homer, driving in four runs as the Indians cruised. Josh Donaldson walked four times. Indians backup outfielder Erik Gonzalez was beaned and was down on the ground for a long time, but eventually got up and walked off the field. He’s being evaluated. You hate to see that ever happen, but it’s not good at all to see it happen to a guy having a cup of coffee in a meaningless game.

Diamondbacks 7, Dodgers 2: L.A. slides out of first place thanks to Zack Greinke allowing two runs over six — he also singled in a run — and the Snakes getting homers from Socrates Brito, A.J. Pollock and David Peralta. Ross Stripling was shaky as hell for the Dodgers. It’s the first time the Dodgers have lost consecutive games in over two weeks, but given how tight things have been all year in the West, it’s not like there was much margin for error.

Angels 3, Rangers 2: Shohei Ohtani hit a tiebreaking homer in the eighth giving the Angels the victory and a three-game sweep. He also had an RBI single. Andrew Heaney struck out 10 while allowing two runs over seven innings.

Athletics 9, Mariners 3: Matt Olson hit a grand slam and Khris Davis hit his 47th homer on the year to help the A’s pull a game closer to the Yankees for home field in the Wild Card game. Oakland is 41-21 since the All-Star break, which is the best record in the bigs in that time.

Padres 3, Giants 2:  Travis Jankowski — who, I contend, has one of the most football player name in baseball, not counting all of those Tylers and Wades who could be young quarterbacks — hit a homer and had three hits in all. Beyond that, I’m trying to decide which of the games last night was the most meaningless, cosmically speaking, in all of baseball. Reds-Royals is probably the closest competition, though don’t sleep on Nats-Marlins.

This Day in Transaction History: Phillies acquire John Kruk from Padres

John Kruk
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John Kruk is one of the more underrated hitters in baseball history. Kruk, who is currently a broadcaster for the Phillies, had a 10-year career during which he hit exactly 100 homers, batted exactly .300, and posted an excellent .397 on-base percentage. In baseball history, there are only 32 members of the admittedly arbitrary 100/.300/.395+ club. Kruk is one of only 10 members of the club that played after 1963. The others: Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Todd Helton, Chipper Jones, Manny Ramírez, Frank Thomas, Larry Walker, Edgar Martinez, and Wade Boggs. Of them, five are Hall of Famers. Trout and Votto will be, and Helton and Ramírez should be.

On this day in 1989, the Phillies made a franchise-altering trade, acquiring Kruk along with infielder Randy Ready from the Padres in exchange for outfielder Chris James. The Padres had just swept the Phillies at home and were hoping to jump into the playoff race. They immediately went into a losing skid, but caught fire at the end of the season, finishing 89-73. However, that wasn’t good enough as the Giants won the NL West with a 92-70 record. James was solid for the Padres, posting a .743 OPS with 11 homers and 46 RBI in 87 games.

Kruk had an interesting but brief major league career with the Padres. His roommate, Roy Plummer, was an armed robber. Kruk was completely unaware of this. In spring training of 1988, the FBI informed Kruk of his roommates’ activities. Kruk feared retribution from Plummer and said that the anxiety affected his baseball performance. In 1988, Kruk batted what was for him a poor .241/.369/.362 with nine homers and 44 RBI over 466 plate appearances.

The Phillies didn’t enjoy immediate success upon Kruk’s arrival in 1989. The club finished the season with a losing record and would do the same in the ensuing three seasons. None of it was Kruk’s fault, though: in aggregate, from 1990-92, he hit .303/.393/.459, earning two All-Star nominations. In this span of time, the only other first basemen to hit above .300 were Frank Thomas, Paul Molitor, Hal Morris, and Rafael Palmeiro. The Padres had used Kruk both in the corner outfield and at first base, but the Phillies made him a full-time first baseman, which turned out to be a good move.

In 1993, everything came together for the Phillies and Kruk had what was arguably the greatest season of his career. He hit .316, which was actually seven points below his average the previous year, but he drew 111 walks to push his on-base percentage up to .430. Kruk hit third in the lineup, creating plenty of RBI opportunities for Dave Hollins in the clean-up spot, Darren Daulton at No. 5, and the trio of Jim Eisenreich, Pete Incaviglia, and Wes Chamberlain in the No. 6 spot. The Phillies shocked the world in ’93, winning the NL East by three games over the Expos with a 97-65 record. They then dispatched the Braves in six games in the NLCS to advance to the World Series against the Blue Jays.

Kruk was productive in the NLCS, contributing six hits including a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, four walks, five RBI, and four runs scored. But he turned things up a notch in the World Series, registering multi-hit performances in the first three games. He would finish the World Series with eight hits in 23 at-bats along with seven walks, four RBI, and four runs scored. The World Series was winnable for the Phillies as they lost a barnburner Game 4 15-14, and of course, dropped the deciding Game 6 on a World Series-clinching walk-off three-run home run by Joe Carter off of Mitch Williams.

1994 was tough on Kruk in many ways. He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in spring training. Knee issues continued to bother him, and then Major League Baseball had a work stoppage. In an abbreviated season, Kruk hit a still-productive .823 OPS. He became a free agent and, when baseball came back, he signed with the White Sox. In the first inning of a July 30 game against the Orioles in ’95, Kruk singled to left field off of Scott Erickson. He reached first base, bowed to the fans, and walked off the field into retirement. Kruk told the media, “The desire to compete at this level is gone. When that happens, it’s time to go.”

Kruk has spent his post-playing days working in sports media as both a broadcaster (Phillies, ESPN nationally) and as a commentator (The Best Damn Sports Show Period, Baseball Tonight). The Phillies inducted him into their Wall of Fame in August 2011. One wonders if Kruk hadn’t been bit by the injury bug, and if there hadn’t been a work stoppage, if he might have been able to accrue some more numbers to have a borderline Hall of Fame case. Regardless, he’ll go down as one of the games’ quietly great hitters.