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And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 8, Pirates 7: Coming out of a rain delay tied at six, Josh Bell hit a solo shot for Pittsburgh in the top of the ninth. Braves rookie Austin Riley matched him with one of his own in the bottom half, however, sending things to extras. Riley played a part in the win, too, when he was hit by a pitch to lead off the bottom of the 11th. One batter and six pitches later Ozzie Albies doubled in Riley for the walkoff win. That’s six straight for Atlanta and, as of last night, sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Brewers 6, Astros 3: Justin Verlander struck out  15 batters in seven innings but he also gavr up three home runs — to  Ryan BraunYasmani Grandal, and Eric Thames — and ended up with a no-decision as the game went to extras. All the way to the 14th, in fact, where Astros reliever Cionel Pérez gave up a two-run shot to Mike Moustakas, after which Jesús Aguilar knocked in an insurance run. In the end, Astros pitchers struck out 24 Brewers batters. Didn’t matter, though.

Red Sox 4, Rangers 3: The Rangers tied it in the eighth on an unearned run but the Red Sox won it on a walkoff walk to Mookie Betts in the ninth. Futility Advantage: Boston. Andrew Benintendi hit a triple and two doubles, driving in two runs, but this game had no room for conventional offensive contributions. It turned on someone not making pitches or what have you.

I include the video highlight here, not because watching a guy take ball four is exciting, but because of the announcer’s words about how this sent “some outstanding momentum” over to the Boston Garden for the Bruins in the upcoming Game 7. Welp, that didn’t work. Tells you all you need to know about momentum.

Athletics 6, Rays 2: It was tied at two in the eighth when Ramón Laureano socked a grand slam to break it wide open. He had five RBI on the afternoon. Laureano’s comments on the slam:

“I was just trying to put the ball in the air and at least get one run but I got four. I just saw the umpire (signal) home run, and then I’m like `it’s cool.”

That started out like your standard cliche “just trying to put a good swing on the ball” quote but it sort of ended like an alternate verse to “Institutionalized” by Suicidal Tendencies. All he wanted was a Pepsi, just one Pepsi. And she wouldn’t give it to him. It doesn’t matter, I’ll probably get hit by a car anyway.

Wait, it’s more like that “United States of Whatever” song and the “Then, up comes Zafo and I’m like ‘Yo, Zafo, what’s up?'” line. Which I always felt was trying to tap into that “Institutionalized” energy but is a pale, pale imitation. Never settle for anything less than the best.

Reds 7, Indians 2: Nick Senzel and Joey Votto hit back-to-back home runs to start the game. Later Eugenio Suárez and Curt Casali went deep. José Peraza hit an RBI double. That Senzel and Peraza did anything was gravy giving that they collided into one another in the bottom of the first and were lucky to escape serious injury.

Cubs 10, Rockies 1: This one wasn’t close as Cole Hamels struck out nine in seven scoreless innings and the offense — Hamels, who drove in two runs, included — came through big. It was chippy, though, as four batters were hit. Hamels hit Nolan Arenado in the fourth inning and Arenado had to leave the game. In the seventh, Bryan Shaw hit Hamels. In the eighth, Anthony Rizzo was hit by Phillip Diehl. Warnings were issued. In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Brach hit Tony Wolters. Despite the warnings he wasn’t ejected. Which, OK. In the Braves-Pirates game the other night three people were ejected based on someone looking at someone else but here it was carnage and it was all good. Seems cool.

Diamondbacks 2, Phillies 0: Merrill Kelly pitched shutout ball into the eighth and two relievers finished the job. The Phillies got only three hits all day while being blanked. Two of those hits were from Nick Williams, who started in place of Bryce Harper, who got the day off outside of pinch-hitting duties. The game lasted only two hours and sixteen minutes. The Phillies had a plane to catch to Atlanta in advance of a day off tomorrow so maybe they had big plans doing whatever one does in Atlanta. Which I assume is a lot but like most people my primary experience in Atlanta is transferring Delta flights.

Marlins 9, Cardinals 0: Jordan Yamamoto made his big league debut on the hill for Miami. It went well, as he blanked the Cards on three hits over seven and he even bunted in a run. The pen finished the final two innings for the second three-hit shutout on the night. Garrett Cooper hit a grand slam. Curtis Granderson hit a three-run shot. Granderson was, like, getting his driver’s permit when Yamamoto was born, by the way.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Rowdy Tellez — who, again, I must stress, sounds like the name of a character in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming epic involving a washed-up TV western star from the 1960s, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood —  hit a grand slam to cap a six-run fifth inning for the Jays. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. knocked in two, Vlad Guerrero Jr. had three hits and the Jays withstood a late O’s rally. The nine runs Toronto scored equalled the number of runs they had scored in their previous five games combined.

Tigers 3, Royals 2: Brandon Dixon hit a tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth for the winning margin. Two of the Tigers’ three runs came via sac flies, with Miguel Cabrera popping in a run as well. Both teams hit the airport after this one, but even if they’re getting away, they’re not getting away from each other. They face off tonight in Omaha, for that College World Series game/classic/whatever thingy. Sometimes reporters get quotes from major leaguers in these kinds of off-site games about what it’s like to play in small towns like Omaha. Given how young and green the rosters of these Royals and Tigers teams are, I’m gonna say it’s not gonna feel radically different than what most folks involved are used to.

Mariners 9, Twins 6: Seattle went 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Almost every time you see those kinds of numbers you’re talking about a team that lost. You ask for miracles, Theo, I give you the Twins’ defense. Minnesota committed two errors in the tenth inning that led to three unearned Seattle runs. They committed five errors in all, in fact, leading to four unearned runs on the game. Miguel Sanó had two of those errors on one play in the tenth:

Not a game to remember for anyone, really.

Giants 4, Padres 2: Kevin Pillar homered, Donovan Solano had two hits and two RBI and Evan Longoria drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single in the sixth. The Padres rallied in the ninth but Giants closer Will Smith remained perfect in save opportunities on the year, locking down his 16th save in 16 chances. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Giants’ lone All-Star representative this year.

White Sox to extend protective netting to the foul poles

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Recently two more fans suffered serious injuries as the result of hard-hit foul balls at major league games. One of those fans was hurt at a White Sox game at Guaranteed Rate Field earlier this month. In response, the White Sox have taken it upon themselves to do that which Major League Baseball will not require and extend protective netting. From the Chicago Sun-Times:

The White Sox and Illinois Sports Facilities Authority are planning to extend the protective netting at Guaranteed Rate Field down the lines to the foul poles, according to a source.

Exact details will be announced later, but the changes will be made as soon as possible this season.

If recent history holds, they will not be the last team to do it.

Major League Baseball has taken a laissez-faire approach to protective netting over the past several years, requiring nothing even if it has made recommendations to teams to do something. The last time it made a suggestion was in December 2015 when teams were “encouraged” to shield the seats between the near ends of both dugouts and within 70 feet of home plate. In the wake of that recommendation only a few teams immediately extended their netting, primarily because if you ask a business to do something but say it is not required to do anything, it is not likely to do anything.

It would not be until September 2017, after a baby girl was severely injured at Yankee Stadium, that the rest of baseball was inspired to extend protective netting in keeping with MLB’s recommendations. Indeed, it was a land rush, with all 30 teams extending their netting by Opening Day 2018. While a generous interpretation would have everyone seeing the light simultaneously, my slightly more experienced eye saw it as a “don’t be the only team not to have extended netting by the time the next lawsuit hits” approach.

In the wake of the two recent injuries Major League Baseball issued a statement about how it “will keep examining” the matter of additional protective netting while, again, mandating nothing. Now that the White Sox are extending netting to the foul poles, however,  it’s not hard to imagine a situation in which other teams follow suit. Sooner or later, enough will likely have done so to create critical mass and make any team which has not done so to make the effort out of self-preservation.

Or, more generously, good sense.