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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Brewers 10, Cardinals 7: The season is young but so far Christian Yelich seems intent on being the first guy to win back-to-back MVP Awards since Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012-13. He was a one-man gang against the Cardinals yesterday, hitting three homers and driving in seven. The first one turned a 3-2 game into a 6-2 game. The second was also a three-run shot, breaking a 6-6 tie. The third was a “mere” solo homer. Have yourself a day, Mr. Yelich.

Oh, and have yourself a day Mr. Cain:

Dodgers 4, Reds 3: Yasiel Puig returned and hit a big, bat-flipping homer off of Clayton Kershaw. That was quite a moment for Puig and, I presume, for the Dodgers fans who remember him fondly. Matt Kemp was also making his return to Dodger Stadium and he hit an RBI single in the ninth which gave the Reds a late lead, so again, nice homecoming. In the end, though, things went better for the men in blue, as (a) Kershaw was otherwise effective in his 2019 debut, allowing only two runs in seven; and (b) Joc Pederson broke that 3-3 tie with a two-run, walkoff homer:

Between that and the Clippers win, it was a big night for L.A. comebacks, eh?

Orioles 8, Red Sox 1: Yesterday I said that the Red Sox were making progress. Then they went out and pinched off this performance against the O’s. Dwight Smith Jr. and Chris Davis — Chris Davis! — each hit two-run homers. The Sox only scratched across one run against Dan Straily. Renato Núñez had three hits, including an RBI single. The O’s have seven wins on the year. The Red Sox have six. The O’s have won two series this year. The Red Sox have won no series this year.

Mets 7, Phillies 6: Aaron Nola and Noah Syndergaard both allowed five runs which was super cool in that it turned a cold and crappy night into a long night as well, with this thing going four and a half hours. But hey, more baseball is better, right? [someone whispers to me] I’m sorry, I am told that the game also featured 14 walks, thereby validating my choice to watch several episodes of “Schitt’s Creek” instead of this schitt. In the end, Juan Lagares scored from second base on a hot shot to first base by Michael Conforto that ate Rhys Hoskins alive in the top of the 11th inning. Edwin Díaz saved it. Of course, the game may have only gone nine if Mickey Callaway had used Díaz earlier. The Phillies, down a run, loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth and rather than bring in his best reliever to get a four-out save — or, at the very least, to put out that fire — he brought in Robert Gsellman who issued a four-pitch walk, tying the game up and eventually forcing extras. Asked about it later, Callaway said they only want to use Díaz for three-out saves. We’re allegedly in the Golden Age of Relief Pitching™ yet some managers’ brains are still stuck in 1995.

Cubs 7, Marlins 2: Yu Darvish struck out eight and allowed two runs while pitching into the sixth and picking up his first win of the year. Willson Contreras homered, drove in three and reached base four times. David Bote drove in three. Miami has the worst record in baseball and the worst run differential too.

Blue Jays 5, Twins 3: Teoscar Hernández had three hits and hit a go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth inning. He also got picked off first base when he started jogging to second on what he thought was ball four to a batter but it was only ball three. You can laugh about that kind of stuff when you hit go-ahead three-run homers, of course. C.J. Cron hit a three-run homer in the losing cause.

Rangers 12, Angels 7: Joey Gallo hit a homer in the third that went a mile and registered a 115.1 m.p.h. exit velocity. Gallo also snuck an RBI single through the left side of the infield, beating the shift and giving the Rangers a lead they’d never surrender. He also stuck out once, leaving him a walk short of a “Joey Gallo Cycle,” which is a thing I just made up. Mike Trout came back and went 0-for-2 with three walks.

White Sox 5, Royals 4: Kansas City built a 3-0 lead early, lost it, went back up 4-3 in the seventh on a Whit Merrifield single but then Wellington Castillo hit a two-run homer off of Brad Boxberger in the bottom of the eighth to give Chicago it’s first and final lead. The Royals have played seven one-run games this year. They have lost six of ’em.

Rockies 5, Padres 2: Ian Desmond homered, doubled and drove in three and Nolan Arenado homered too as the Rockies won their [gasp] second game in a row. Crazy.

Indians 6, Mariners 4: Trevor Bauer allowed one run in 6.2 innings and Cleveland prevailed despite a barely averted Mariners rally after he left in the seventh and then a minor bullpen meltdown in the eighth, featuring back-to-back homers from Edwin Encarnación and Omar Narváez which pulled Seattle close. It would’ve been worse if it wasn’t for Greg Allen playing Superman:

Seattle has lost four straight. It sounds like they looked pretty dang sloppy losing this one too.

Nats’ success shouldn’t be about Bryce Harper

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Bryce Harper turns 27 years old today. As an early birthday present, he got to watch his former team reach the World Series for the first time in franchise history. His new team finished exactly at .500 in fourth place, missing the playoffs. These were facts that did not go unnoticed as the Nationals completed an NLCS sweep of the Cardinals at home last night.

Harper spent seven seasons with the Nationals before hitting free agency and ultimately signing with the Phillies on a 13-million, $330 million contract. The Nationals offered Harper a 10-year, $300 million contract at the end of the 2018 regular season, but about $100 million of that was deferred until he was 65 which lowered the present-day value of the offer. The Nats’ offer wasn’t even in the same ballpark, really.

Nevertheless, Nationals fans were upset that their prodigy jilted them to go to the Phillies. He was mercilessly booed whenever the Phillies played in D.C. Nats fans’ Harper jerseys were destroyed, or at least taped over.

Harper, of course, was phenomenal with the Nationals. He won the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2012, then won the NL MVP Award several years later with an historically outstanding 1.109 OPS while leading the league with 42 homers and 118 runs scored. Overall, as a National, he had a .900 OPS. Pretty good. He was also productive in the postseason, posting an .801 OPS across 19 games, mostly against playoff teams’ best starters and best relievers. Furthermore, if the Nats had Harper this year, he would have been in right field in lieu of Adam Eaton. Harper out OPS’d Eaton by 90 points and posted 2.5 more WAR in a similar amount of playing time. The Nationals would have been even better if they had Harper this year.

The Nationals lost all four Division Series they appeared in during the Harper era. 3-2 to the Cardinals in 2012, 3-1 to the Giants in ’14, 3-2 to the Dodgers in ’16, and 3-2 to the Cubs in ’17. They finally get over the hump the first year they’re without Harper, that’s the difference, right? I saw the phrase “addition by subtraction” repeatedly last night, referring to Harper and the Nats’ subsequent success without him.

Harper, though, didn’t fork over four runs to the Cardinals in the top of the ninth inning in Game 5 in 2012. He didn’t allow the Dodgers to rally for four runs in the seventh inning of Game 5 in ’16 before ultimately losing 4-3. He didn’t use a gassed Max Scherzer in relief in 2017’s Game 5, when he allowed five of the seven Cubs he faced to reach base, leading to three runs which loomed large in a 9-8 loss. If certain rolls of the dice in those years had gone the Nationals’ way, they would have appeared in the NLCS. They might’ve even been able to win a World Series.

The Nationals saw how that looks this year. It was the opposing manager this time, Dave Roberts, who mismanaged his bullpen. Howie Kendrick then hit a tie-breaking grand slam in the 10th inning off of Joe Kelly to win the NLDS for the Nats. The playoffs are random. Sometimes a ball bounces your way, sometimes an umpire’s call goes your way, and sometimes the opposing manager makes several unforced errors to throw Game 5 in your lap.

Reaching the World Series, then thumbing your nose while sticking out your tongue at Harper feels like a guy tagging his ex-girlfriend on his new wedding photos. It’s time to move on.