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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights


Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Mets 1, Reds 0: Noah Syndergaard did it, all, tossing a complete game shutout and hitting a solo homer for the game’s only run. The last time a pitcher did both of those things in a 1-0 game was Bob Welch in June of 1983 against these same Cincinnati Reds. Well, not the same Reds, as none of them were alive yet. Even Joey Votto wasn’t born until September of that year. Zach Duke was alive — he was a couple of months old — but I’m guessing he didn’t pitch in that game. Here’s the box score of that contest. It’s a who’s who of every pack of 1983 Donruss cards you ever opened. You’ll also note that the game took two hours and twenty five minutes. Yesterday’s Reds-Mets game, in contrast, took only two hours and ten minutes.

Padres 11, Braves 2: Ian Kinsler homered and doubled in a run. Wil Myers homered and drove in three on the day. Eric Hosmer drove in a couple. The Padres had two five-run innings, one in the fifth and one in the sixth, and beat Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz like a rented mule. Atlanta fared better when utilityman Charlie Culberson took the mound in the ninth. He allowed a hit and walked two but stuck out a guy too and got out of a bases-loaded jam.

Twins 8, Astros 2: Jason Castro homered and drove in four and José Berríros twirled seven innings of two-run ball as the Twins took three of four from the Astros and now have the best record in the American League. After the game Jonathan Schoop said “If you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.” Which is a variation of “to be the man you’ve got to beat the man.” No word if he also found some slightly different way to say that he’s a stylin’, profilin’, limousine riding, jet flying, kiss-stealing, wheelin’ and dealin’ son of a gun, but if he did that’d be boss.

Rockies 11, Brewers 6: Nolan ArenadoDavid Dahl and Raimel Tapia all homered as Colorado scored seven runs in the first two innings and hung nine on Brewers starter Freddy Peralta. The Rockies are heating up. They’ve played 32 games. They scored 46 runs in their first 16 and 101 in their last 16. They have also won 12 of 17 following a 3-12 start. Not that that’s being super honest with end points, but if you want people to be honest with end points you probably shouldn’t be reading any sports writing.

Rays 3, Royals 1: A nice pitcher’s duel between Danny Duffy and Charlie Morton with both guys allowing a single run over six and six and two-thirds innings, respectively. The decisive run came in the top of the ninth when Brandon Lowe hit a two-run dinger off of Wily Peralta. Lowe on the homer:

“I didn’t know it was going to be a home run. As I was running, I was saying, `C’mon, get up.’ I was asking for it to do something for me. It wasn’t the intention in that at-bat. I was just trying to find a gap.”

If I was a baseball player I’d try to hit a homer most of the time. Homers are the best thing you can do.

Nationals 2, Cardinals 1: Stephen Strasburg struck out nine and allowed only one run in six and two-thirds. In the process he struck out his 1,500th career batter. In so doing he did it in fewer innings pitched than any player in major league history: 1,272.1. Chris Sale had the previous record, having done it in 1,290 innings. Both of them are legit strikeout guys and would be in any era, but let’s not pretend pitching in the age in which they pitch doesn’t skew things a tad in their favor. After the game the Nationals fired pitching coach Derek Lilliquist. I wonder if he tried to keep his job by taking responsibility for Strasburg’s nice outing. I would’ve. Always go down swinging, man.

White Sox 6, Red Sox 4: Boston took a 4-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth but Ryan Brasier couldn’t lock it down, allowing two runners to reach — one on an error, one on a single — and then surrendered a walkoff three-run homer to Nicky Delmonico. Well done, Delmonico! The steaks were high but you pulled off a rare feat, took a choice cut and saved Chicago from the fire. The White Sox have won five of six and are just a game under .500.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 2: Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun homered, Tyler Skaggs pitched four-hit ball into the seventh and the Angels sweep the Jays in three. The Angels have won six of seven after losing nine of 10. Again with those end points, I know, but I think it’s safe to say this is a streaky team. Streaky teams are fun. The hierarchy for fans, I think, goes like this:

    1. Dominant team
    2. Good, winning team that wasn’t supposed to win
    3. Good, winning team that was supposed to win
    4. Streaky mediocre team
    5. Simply mediocre team
    6. Bad but promising team with lotsa prospects
    7. Bad, colorful team with lotsa interesting veterans
    8. Bad boring team full of bland tomato cans

There are some other possibilities, of course, but I think these are the main ones. Thoughts?

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.