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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Yankees 5, Red Sox 3: The Yankees were down 3-1 in the seventh when Brett Gardner hit a grand slam off of Ryan Brasier. It was Gardner’s 100th career homer and gave the Yankees the sweep in the two-game series. J.D. Martinez and Christian Vazquez went deep for Boston, but they fall for the third straight game and find themselves alone in the basement of the A.L. East. At 6-13, this is the poorest start for a World Series champion since the 1998 Florida Marlins opened 5-14. And in the Marlins case they had an excuse, having been stripped for parts in the offseason in one of the more cynical and dumb tear-downs in living memory. The Sox’ excuse? They’ve just sucked.

Dodgers 3, Reds 2: For the second day in a row an intentional walk did not pay off for the Reds. Here, in the sixth, the Reds chose to put Cody Bellinger on base with two outs and a runner on in order to face A.J. Pollock. Pollock made him pay with a three-run homer that was all the scoring the Dodgers got and all the scoring the Dodgers needed. No word if Pollock thought it was a “slap in the face” to be pitched to in that situation.

Phillies 3, Mets 2: Finally some pitching in this series. Jake Arrieta worked into the ninth, allowing two, outdueling Zack Wheeler who gave up three over seven. Hot Scott Kingery homered again, as did César Hernández. The Mets had their chance in the ninth, pushing across one run and then loading the bases, but Héctor Neris struck out Keon Broxton with a 3-2 heater to end the game.

Royals 4, White Sox 3: Royals win, yadda, yadda, but this one was notable for Brad Keller‘s fragile ego leading to a benches-clearing hullabaloo.

When Keller is given a minor suspension which serves as zero deterrent from pitchers throwing at batters and thus shows that MLB’s executives think retaliation for bat flips is just fine, remember that MLB’s marketing department thinks bat flips and stuff are great. Including the specific bat flip that led to Keller plunking Anderson.

If your company had a marketing campaign for, say, friendly customer service or speedy delivery or your money back, I imagine you’d be strongly encouraged by management to be friendly and to work quickly. If, instead, you insulted customers or loafed it, I imagine you’d be punished somehow. Weird that MLB can’t be bothered.

Cardinals 6, Brewers 3: The big news here was that Christian Yelich did not homer against the Cardinals for once. Matt Carpenter and Marcell Ozuna went deep, however, and Michael Wacha was effective as the Cards avoid being swept by the Brewers. Wacha allowed two runs and five hits and struck out seven.

Indians 1, Mariners 0: The Mariners’ streak of 20 games to start the season with a home run has come to an end, but hey, their losing streak is still going strong! Oh . . . wait. Not all streaks are to be celebrated. Carlos Carrasco can be celebrated. The Indians starter tossed seven shutout innings and he and reliever Nick Wittgren made Jake Bauers‘ fifth inning solo homer hold up. That’s six straight in the toilet for Seattle.

Pirates 3, Tigers 2: For the second straight game the Pirates needed ten innings to beat the Tigers, but winning in ten is just as good as winning in nine I suppose. Here Colin Moran‘s RBI single in the top of the 10th put the Buccos over. Tigers starter Spencer Turnbull allowed only one unearned run and two hits in six innings of work — I like that guy’s stuff from what I’ve seen so far — but he was denied the win when his bullpen betrayed him in the eighth.

Nationals 9, Giants 6: Juan Soto, Howie Kendrick, Matt Adams and Kurt Suzuki all went deep for the Nats, who had a 9-2 lead in the ninth but, as has often been the case so far this year, the bullpen was a cause for heartburn. Washington needed three relievers, the first two of whom allowed two homers and four runs, and had to use closer Sean Doolittle to end it.

Rays 8, Orioles 1: The opener/bullpen combined to allow only three hits on the night, with second man out Yonny Chirinios getting the bulk of the work and the win. Brandon Lowe homered and drove in three on his 3-for-4 night. Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Díaz also went deep as the Rays rattled out 13 hits and drew four walks. The Rays have won eight of nine.

Cubs 6, Marlins 0: Cole Hamels tossed seven shutout innings and Marlins batters managed only five hits and struck out 11 times. Daniel Descalso drove in three. Javier Báez homered. The Cubs’ trip to Florida has turned things around for them, as they’ve taken three in a row.

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 2: Adam Jones is a lot of things, but he is not a guy known to take a lot of walks. Which made it all the more special (or, if you were rooting for the Braves, “special”) that he’s the guy who drew the 10th inning bases-loaded walk that ended up giving the Dbacks the win. Jones also homered in the game and scored the tying run in the seventh when Ketel Marte doubled him in. Those are things Jones does. Taking big walks, not so much. Atlanta starter Kevin Gausman allowed only two runs on three hits while striking out 10 in seven innings of work, but the Braves don’t have a bullpen and this is what happens when you don’t have a bullpen.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 1: Nelson Cruz had two hits and two RBI, on a single and a double, and Jake Odorizzi allowed one run on six hits. The attendance was announced at 11,465, which is the lowest figure in Target Field’s 10-year history. Bad weather this week is the culprit. The Twins have had a terrible run of weather to start the season with a bunch of postponements and delays. I realize that the Metrodome made the baseball gods cry, and that in reaction to it the Twins built a lovely gem of an outdoor stadium. But I also feel like it might’ve been a smarter move to go retractable roof with that bad boy.

Rangers 5, Angels 4: The sweep. Shin-Soo Choo hit a tiebreaking two-run triple in the fifth and reached base his first three times to the plate. Lance Lynn allowed 10 baserunners in five and two-thirds but the Angels couldn’t capitalize, scoring only twice while Lynn was on the hill.

Athletics 2, Astros 1: The A’s end the Astros’ winning streak at ten thanks to a tiebreaking Matt Chapman homer in the sixth and solid work from Frankie Montas. Jurickson Profar had an RBI double. He’s driven in 10 runs over his last eight games. It was the first A’s won over Houston in five meetings.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.