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And That Happened: Thursday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Angels 13, Tigers 0: This game featured Albert Pujols’ 2,000th RBI and four RBI — and two homers — from Tommy La Stella. Pujols is a Hall of Famer and we knew he was gonna get to 2,000 eventually. La Stella, meanwhile has nine homers in 32 games. Before this season he had ten homers, total, in 396 career games. The Angels used an opener here and after he left Felix Pena threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just three hits and striking out seven.

Indians 5, White Sox 0: This game went the bare minimum — five innings — due to rain. I feel like the White Sox had enough, though. They got bupkis from Carlos Carrasco, who gave up only two hits in five shutout innings, striking out six. Jordan Luplow homered twice for Cleveland, both solo shots.

It was good that they called the game for rain, though. The outfield was getting so slippery that it was affecting not only the outfielders’ footing, but it was also affecting the official scorer’s brain:

Cubs 4, Marlins 1: A Yu Darvish special. One hit! One run! But only four innings because he walked six and struck out seven and needed 97 pitches to get even that far. The guy has talent and when he was younger he was electric to watch but my God is he . . . an experience these days. Mike Montgomery relieved him and went five innings, shutting out the Fish the rest of the way on only three hits. he needed only 71 pitches to get that far. Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo went deep for the Cubbies.

Rockies 12, Giants 11: It was 39 degrees at first pitch and there was a snowpocalypse in Denver, but that didn’t stop everyone from hitting:

It certainly didn’t stop Nolan Arenado, who went deep, had three hits and reached base five times. Ian Desmond and Mark Reynolds also homered. Colorado built an early 7-0 lead but the game was tied at eight by the sixth because, well, that’s what happens in Denver. Chris Iannetta hit a go-ahead two-run double in the sixth, though, to keep the Rockies from totally choking away the game. Giants first baseman Tyler Austin had two home runs and six RBI in a losing cause. The game lasted almost four hours and the temp barely got into the 40s. Sounds absolutely lovely.

Reds 3, Athletics 0: Tanner Roark and three relievers combined to toss as six-hit shutout, backed by homers from Derek Dietrich and Eugenio Suárez to avoid being swept in Oakland. It was Dietrich’s fifth dinger in six games. Suárez also doubled twice and flashed some leather. If you get through the offensive highlights here you can watch a pretty fantastic pick and jump throw from foul territory and a super nice stab for a hot liner after which he quickly doubled off the runner at first:

Yankees 3, Mariners 1: J.A. Happ and four Yankees relievers combined to two-hit the M’s, with their only run coming on a ninth inning homer by Domingo Santana off of Aroldis Chapman. There was some controversy here too as Happ plunked Dee Gordon on the wrist, when his wrist happened to be up near his head. Gordon was salty about it after the game because he didn’t like Happ coming up and in at him, but there’s really no reason to believe this was intentional. I get mad when I hit my thumb with a hammer too. Doesn’t mean I meant to do it. The M’s have lost nine of 11.

Cardinals 17, Pirates 4: St. Louis scored these 17 runs all without the benefit of a homer and they sent nine batters to the plate in three times in the first six innings. Marcell Ozuna drove in four of them, three on a double, one on a fielder’s choice. Paul Goldschmidt reached base four times and had three hits and two RBI. Dexter Fowler drove in three. Fowler credits the outburst to him and his wife taking several other players and their wives out for karaoke after Wednesday’s bad game. No word on what they sang, but for the record, my go-to is always “Laid” by James. And yes, I can hit those high notes.

Astros 4, Rangers 2: Josh Reddick hit the tiebreaking RBI single in the sixth and made a game-saving, home-run robbing catch off the bat of Hunter Pence with two men on base:

Wade Miley outpitched Mike Minor, allowing two runs on only two hits and striking out seven over six.

Diamondbacks 3, Braves 2: It was 1-1 in the ninth when Josh Donaldson and David Peralta traded solo homers to send it to extras. The Dbacks rallied in their half of the tenth with a walk and consecutive singles off of Braves reliever A.J. Minter, the second single was a walkoff RBI from Ketel Marte. Ballgame. Good job, Braves bullpen. Capital effort. There was a home run robbery in this one too, with Adam Jones stealing a dinger from Ronald Acuña Jr.:

My favorite thing about that is when Jones slaps his glove to his thigh, which is the gesture outfielders make to signal “I got this one.” I get that on a regular fly ball, but it’s pretty sweet to see a guy so experienced and confident that he knows he’s got one that would’ve otherwise gone over the fence.

Nationals 6, Dodgers 0: The Nats have been on the skids lately but Patrick Corbin played stopped, tossing seven innings of shutout ball. The Nats got three off of Rich Hill in the first thanks to a Howie Kendrick homer. Kendrick is one of those guys you have to remind yourself is still in the league and then you look up and see that he’s hitting .325/.383/.588 with six homers on the year.

If 2020 season is cancelled, which teams would be hurt the most?

Mookie Betts
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MLB commissioner Rob Manfred recently expressed his optimistic outlook, saying that he hoped the league would begin “gearing back up” in May. That would put a regular season return potentially at the end of June or at some point in July. He expressed that the league may have to get creative, likely referring to ideas like playing doubleheaders, extending the season deep into fall, and playing some games at neutral parks in warm-weather areas.

Manfred isn’t the only one champing at the bit for a return to normalcy. President Trump recently said he wanted to “open” the economy back up by Easter, meaning that our social isolation plan could be done in two weeks. And, frankly, I’m sure many of us are starting to become a little stir-crazy as we attempt to flatten the curve.

It’s hard to imagine life returning to normal when Coronavirus (COVID-19) is really starting to spread in the United States. It would be ill-advised for us to go back to business as usual. This is a time when we need to put other interests ahead of business interests. Frankly, there’s a very real possibility that there is no MLB season in 2020. Or, at the very least, there may be a point when Manfred has to choose between starting a season or protecting the health of the players and coaches, journalists, fans, and all of the many people that would interact with them and potentially become vectors for the virus.

In the event the 2020 season is cancelled, which teams stand to lose the most? Let’s take a look at some contenders.

Los Angeles Dodgers

The most obvious of the bunch. The club swung a deal with the Red Sox a month and a half ago to acquire the 2018 AL MVP along with David Price in exchange for Alex Verdugo, Connor Wong, and Jeter Downs. Betts was a huge upgrade to an already potent Dodger roster, one which won 106 games during the regular season last year.

Betts, however, is a free agent after the 2020 season. MLB owners and the MLBPA reached an agreement last week stating that, if there is no season, players would still get credit for a full year of service time. If the season is canceled, the Dodgers very well may have given up three good young players and taken on a lot of salary for basically nothing. They’ll get to keep Price, who is under contract for two more years after this, but that’s no consolation.

The Dodgers also have some other important players potentially hitting free agency after the 2020 season: Justin Turner, Kiké Hernández, Joc Pederson, and Pedro Báez.

Cincinnati Reds

The Reds had a better 2019 campaign than their 75-87 record indicated. They finished in fifth place from 2015-18 before last year’s fourth place finish. The club acquired Sonny Gray from the Yankees before the season and picked up Trevor Bauer from the Indians at the trade deadline. Eugenio Suárez, Aristides Aquino, and Michael Lorenzen were among a handful of players who shone brightly as well.

As a result of a roster on the come-up, the Reds bolstered the roster even more, picking up free agents Nick Castellanos and Mike Moustakas. The Reds signed both players to four-year deals, so they will still be around when baseball eventually resumes, even if it’s next year, but Moustakas will be 32 and Castellanos will be 29. It’s a pretty big deal to miss 25 percent of their contracts in what are, on average, the seasons likeliest to be their best.

Bauer, by the way, can become a free agent after the season. That’s a pretty big deal, too.

Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies were supposed to be competitive last year, but they fell a bit flat, finishing exactly at .500 with an 81-81 record. GM Matt Klentak continued to bolster the roster a year after inking Bryce Harper to what was then the richest contract in baseball history (13 years, $330 million). This past offseason, he signed Zack Wheeler to a five-year, $118 million deal. They also added Didi Gregorius on a one-year deal.

This is a team meant to be an NL East contender in 2020, to finally reach the postseason which it hasn’t done since 2011. If the season is cancelled, that’s one very valuable year out of its window completely gone. That is even more the case upon realizing that catcher J.T. Realmuto, arguably the best player at his position in baseball right now, is a free agent going into 2021. The two sides have discussed a contract extension, but that was tabled as of two weeks ago.

The Phillies haven’t had stability at the catcher position since Carlos Ruiz in the early- to mid-2010’s. They do have some catchers among their top-30 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline, in Deivy Grullon, Rafael Marchan, and Rodolfo Duran, but none of them are J.T. Realmuto. Realmuto is a guy you want to keep around if possible, especially considering the scarcity of his caliber of talent at that position.

. . .

This is a partial list, so this is not to say that teams omitted would not suffer at all from a lost season. You can see the factors that determine whether or not a team has a lot at stake this year: splashy trades, free agent signings, stars potentially becoming free agents after the season, etc.

In general, every team would be devastated by a lost season not just due to the lost development time or the loss of an attempt to win a championship, but because of lost revenues. This is going to have a ripple effect through the baseball economy. Teams will likely become less active in the free agent market, to name one of many potential effects.