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And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 8, Red Sox 0: James Paxton was absolutely dominant, tossing eight shutout innings and allowing just two hits while striking out 12. Mike Tauchman — an outfielder the Yankees acquired from Colorado at the end of spring training — hit a three-run homer and doubled in a run for four RBI on the night. Not a bad evening for the Bombers, whose lineup, thanks to injuries, looked like something you’d see in a split squad game in spring training.

Pirates 5, Tigers 3: Joe Musgrove pitched well for the Pirates but his bullpen let him down. Matt Boyd pitched well for the Tigers but his offense let him down. That led to extras where Starling Marte saved the day for Pittsburgh by smacking a two-run homer in the tenth. I’d say something like “this will make Pittsburgh sports fans feel a bit better after the Penguins got swept out of the first round of the playoffs,” but I’m told by Pittsburgh friends that no, this will not make anyone feel better about that.

Giants 7, Nationals 3: The Giants have a poor, punchless offense but they punched pretty well last night, getting homers from Evan LongoriaBrandon Belt and Steven Duggar, all off of Stephen Strasburg. The Giants have won four of five. In other news, Dave Martinez was ejected in this one for arguing balls and strikes in the fifth inning. Martinez’s explanation:

“I was in the dugout. I said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You got to be better than that.’ I didn’t cuss. I didn’t say much other than, ‘Let’s go.”’

I’m normally on the manager’s side with this stuff as I find it comical that umpires cannot be expected to handle even a little chatter regarding their strike zone without being entitled to eject a guy. But I also argue on the Internet a lot, and one of the laziest, most cowardly Internet argument tactics I encounter on a regular basis is someone saying “c’mon, you’re better than that.” It’s so weak. If you have a point, make it, don’t just go to that kind of smug, conclusory and condescending bit of ad hominem. As such, I am fully on the ump’s side here and I would like Martinez to be suspended for approximately 79 games or something.

Phillies 14, Mets 3: This one was over before it began with the Phillies putting up a ten-spot in the first dang inning. Steven Matz was charged with six of those runs — with two unearned runs coming on his watch as well — without recording even a single out. Drew Gagnon ended up mopping up that mess, having to wear five and a third innings of it while allowing five earned and one unearned run himself. But hey, bright side: Mickey Calloway didn’t have to worry about using Edwin Díaz for more than three outs. As for the damage [Craig lowers his glasses to his nose and looks down at the box score like a cashier at a deli looking at long, long, carryout ticket before hitting every key on the register] Scott Kingery and J.T. Realmuto each had three hits and five RBI, Maikel Franco hit a three run homer and Cesar Hernández doubled in a run.

Rays 4, Orioles 2: Tyler Glasnow keeps on keepin’ on, twirling seven innings of two-run ball, scattering seven hits in the process. After spotting the O’s two runs, the Rays came back and scored four unanswered, with Avisail García hitting a two-run homer and singling in a run. Glasnow won his fourth consecutive start to begin the season. He’s allowed only three runs in those four games. The Rays have the best record in baseball.

Cubs 4, Marlins 0: José Quintana tossed seven shutout innings, striking out seven. In so doing he extended his scoreless innings streak to 14. That creep can roll, man. Javier Báez went 3-for-4 and homered. The Marlins are terrible.

Diamondbacks 9, Braves 6: Braves starter Max Fried was good. The Braves offense was good. The Braves bullpen, however, gave the viewer the feeling one gets when one clogs a toilet at a party at someone else’s house, the water rises with no sign of stopping and a line of people are outside the door yelling, “c’mon, already, will ya?” Except there’s no window in the bathroom for you to jump out of to your merciful death and you just gotta watch it all happen, hoping, at the very least, for that bizarrely peaceful, slow motion, out-of-body feeling one hears about people experiencing when they are overcome with brain chemicals designed to help them become OK with being resigned to their fate. Arizona scored seven runs off of the Braves bullpen in the final three innings. Chad Sobotka and Jesse Biddle were the chief arsonists, failing to retire a batter as the Diamondbacks scored four runs in the seventh. Atlanta tied it back up again and then A.J. Minter gave up a homer to Christian Walker to give Arizona the lead for good. In all, six Braves relievers combined to allow seven runs on five hits, six walks and two hit batters. Atlanta’s pen has a 5.43 ERA and has allowed 36 walks in 59.2 innings. Woof.

Brewers 8, Cardinals 4: Homers from Lorenzo Cain, Yasmani Grandal and Christian Yelich paced the Brewers to another win. Yelich now has nine homers on the year. Eight of them have come against the Cardinals. We tend to reward late season performance — like Yelich’s 2018 performance — with MVPs, but I don’t think that thoroughly dominating a division rival like this in April is any less important than doing it in September. The Brewers have won nine of their last 10 against St. Louis, including four in a row.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 5:  Teoscar Hernández was the hero for the second night in a row, following up Monday’s three-run homer with a key RBI single in the top of the seventh to give Toronto a 6-4 lead. He also started a game-ending relay play that was pretty dang sweet:

If that runner isn’t pegged at home they’re, at best, heading to extra innings. Nice play.

Rangers 5, Angels 0: Mike Minor tossed a big boy shutout. Like, pitching all nine innings and stuff like starters used to do. Three hits, no runs obviously, seven strikeouts and a mere 103 pitches. He was backed by homers from Asdrúbal Cabrera and Joey Gallo.

White Sox 5, Royals 1: Yoan Moncada smacked two homers, Yonder Alonso went 4-for-4 with a homer and Leury García went deep as well. Reynaldo López allowed only one run over six. Moncada, once considered the top prospect in the game, is hitting .333/.371/.652 with five homers and 16 driven in in his first 16 games.

Rockies 8, Padres 2: Nolan Arenado — who turned 28 yesterday — homered for the third straight game. Jon Gray allowed one run over seven as the Rockies hand the Padres their third straight loss. And, if you’re curious, with the Padres losing and the Dodgers winning, that never-ending argument in my Twitter mentions has resumed.

Astros 9, Athletics 1:

Colin McHugh: What are you trying to tell me? That I can dodge bullets?

A.J. Hinch: No, Colin. I’m trying to tell you that when you’re ready, you won’t have to.

Six shutout innings for Neo McHugh over here. Alex Bregman hit a grand slam. There is no spoon.

Dodgers 6, Reds 1: With two outs and a runner on second base in the seventh inning, the Reds decided to walk Enrique Hernandez and pitch to Alex Verdugo in order to (a) give Zach Duke a lefty-lefty matchup; and (b) to set up the force. It’s a smart baseball move. Verdugo made them pay for it, though, by hitting an RBI double to turn a three-run game into a five-run game. Afterwards he said “it was a slap in the face” for them walk Hernandez to get to him. Whatever you need to motivate yourself, kid, but in my experience I have found almost everyone who uses the phrase “a slap in the face” to describe something that happened to them that falls short of an actual slap in the face is being mildly insufferable in the moment. That said, Verdugo is batting .370 with two home runs and 10 RBI, and has hit safely in six of seven starts this season, so like I said, if insufferable works, go with what works.

Indians 4, Mariners 2: Shane Bieber and three relievers held the Mariners to just six hits, though one of them was a Jay Bruce homer. That extended Seattle’s major league record string of games with a home run to start the season to 20 games. They’ve also lost five in a row, so I imagine that streak seems less fun every day.

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.