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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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The Seattle Mariners are in first place, the Orioles and the Tigers are in second place, the Yankees and Astros have been scuffling and the Red Sox and the Cubs are sucking eggs in last place. Oh, how fun the standings are after a week or so of action!

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 9, Cubs 4: Thanks to both a miserly approach to the offseason and spring injuries to a couple of starters, Atlanta entered the season relying on a several young pitchers. One of them is Max Fried. We won’t know whether the risk paid off for some time but one start in and Fried is looking pretty good. He took a perfect game into the sixth inning and finished his night after that inning having allowed only one hit, no runs, no walks and five strikeouts. Assisting the young pitching were a couple of old bats: it was a 5-for-5 night with five RBI for Nick Markakis while Brian McCann drove in a couple. Atlanta sweeps the Cubs and evens up their record to 3-3. The Cubs have lost five straight following an Opening Day win. The last time they started a season 1-5 was 2012, when they lost 101 games.

Yu Darvish was no great shakes starting, but Cubs relievers were worse, coughing up six runs. After the game Joe Maddon said “We’ve just got to get our bullpen in order.” Him and a lot of teams, actually. We’re told we live in the AGE OF BULLPENS™ or whatever, yet almost all of the bullpens suck. There’s probably a lesson to be teased out of that.

Indians 4, Blue Jays 1: Trevor Bauer held the Jays hitless through seven innings, but thanks to six walks and eight strikeouts, he hit 117 on the pitch-o-meter by then, so Terry Francona had to go to his pen. Jon Edwards and Brad Hand kept the no-no alive through the eighth but Freddy Galvis broke it up by singling off of Hand to lead off the ninth. A valiant effort. The Indians, by the way, scored all four of their runs without the benefit of a run-scoring hit: the runs came via a fielder’s choice, two sac flies and a bases-loaded walk.

Athletics 7, Red Sox 3: The Red Sox jumped out to a three-run lead, but a three-run homer from Stephen Piscotty tied it up in the third and after that it was all A’s. A lot more Piscotty, too, as the A’s right fielder knocked two more runs in via a ground rule double for a five-RBI day. The A’s center fielder, Ramón Laureano, had another assist at third base too. The other night he gunned down Xander Bogaerts. Yesterday it was Mookie Betts:

Yankees 8, Orioles 4: The Yankees were down 4-1 entering the sixth inning but left the inning with a lead thanks to homers from Gary Sánchez and Gleyber Torres. Torres had homered in the third too, and ended up with a 4-for-4, four RBI day. Luke Voit hit a three-run homer in the ninth for some insurance. Torres last hit two homers in a game last August, also against the Orioles, also against Alex Cobb and Mike Wright. All of this has happened before. And all of this will happen again.

Nationals 4, Mets 0: Noah Syndergaard had a no-hitter into the sixth, but gave up two runs — one on a sixth inning homer from Victor Robles — and ended up losing the dang game. Stephen Strasburg allowed only three hits and pitched shutout ball into the seventh. Unlike in recent days the Nats’ bullpen came though and completed the shutout. Mets batters — exhausted from a day game after a late night of travel — struck out 14 times.

Tigers 5, Royals 4: For the second day in a row a Tigers pitcher struck out 10 dudes. This time it was Spencer Turnbull, who has some pretty good stuff if he can figure out where it’s going. He did for the most part here, allowing only two earned runs and punching out 10. Niko Goodrum hit two doubles and drove in three and Miguel Cabrera and Christin Stewart each knocked one in. Josh Harrison stole two bases and scored three times. Seven free passes by Royals pitchers didn’t help matters. Neither did a 39 degree game time temperature.

Pirates 2, Reds 0: If you don’t score you don’t win and for the second straight game the Reds did not score. Here it was Jordan Lyles and four relievers combining for the shutout. Reds starter Tyler Mahle threw six scoreless innings and didn’t walk anyone, but again, you can’t win with no run support.

Rangers 11, Angels 4: Joey Gallo hit a three-run homer and Ronald Guzman hit a two run shot in the first inning basically ending Matt Harvey and the Angel’s night before it began. Shin-Soo Choo had a bases-loaded double. Mike Trout, as so often happens, had a fantastic night in a losing cause, gunning a runner down at the plate and hitting his first bomb of the season:

Still, the Rangers pounded out 15 hits and never trailed. They’ve won five of seven to start the year.

Mariners vs. White Sox; Padres vs. Cardinals — POSTPONED:

The sun is out, the sky is blue
There’s not a cloud to spoil the view
But it’s raining, raining in my heart
The weatherman says clear today
He doesn’t know you’ve gone away
And it’s raining, raining in my heart

Pirates hire Ben Cherington as their new general manager

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The Pittsburgh Pirates have hired Ben Cherington as the team’s new general manager. They do so after the general manager meetings ended, but better late than never.

Cherington served as GM of the Boston Red Sox for four years, winning the World Series in 2013, but resigned during the 2015 season after Dave Dombrowski was named Boston’s new president of baseball operations. Which was a defacto demotionn for Cherington who, until then, had the final say in baseball decisions. Dombrowski, of course, was fired late in the season this year. Cherington went on to work for the Toronto Blue Jays as a vice president, but was seen as biding his time for another GM position. Now he has one.

Cherington takes over in Pittsburgh for executive vice president and general manager Neal Huntington, who was fired after a 12 years at the helm. Also fired was team president Frank Coonelly. Travis Williams replaced Coonelly recently. While the Pirates experienced a few years of contention under Huntington and Coonelly, they have slid out of contention in recent years as the club has traded away promising players for little return, all while cutting payroll. There’s a very big rebuilding job ahead of Cherington.

The first move he’ll have to make: hire a manager, as the team still hasn’t replaced Clint Hurdle since he was dismissed in the final weekend of the regular season.