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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 5, Nationals 4: Both of these teams got a lot of bullpen help at the trade deadline yesterday. This game shows you why, at least for the Braves. Without their new reinforcements the Braves coughed up three runs in the final two innings of regulation and blew a 4-1 lead which cost Mike Soroka (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) a win. Josh Donaldson saved their bacon in extras, though, hitting a go-ahead solo shot off of Sean Doolittle in the top of the tenth that sealed it. Presumably Doolittle is pitching in that situation regardless of whoever the Nats added yesterday, but maybe he’s a bit fresher if this game happens next week due to the additions. Anyway, Atlanta took two of three from Washington and their lead in the East is now up to six and a half.

Mets 4, White Sox 2: Jacob deGrom and Lucas Giolito both went seven strong innings and left the game tied 1-1 after seven. Relievers for both clubs held the other side scoreless in the eighth, but the Mets broke through in the ninth against Alex Colome, plating three runs via RBI singles from Todd Frazier and Michael Conforto. Leury García smacked a homer off of Edwin Díaz in the White Sox ninth but it was too little, too late. That’s six straight wins for the Mets. The Mets who also, in my view, had a good trade deadline. What is this world coming to when the Mets have had a better week than almost anyone?

Reds 4, Pirates 1: A day after their donnybrook everyone behaved themselves here. No plunkings, jawing or fighting. Also nothing doing against Luis Castillo, who allowed only one run in seven innings of work and was backed by homers from Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez. After the game, Amir Garrett of the Reds was asked about the lack of fireworks on Wednesday. “I think it’s squashed. There’s no hard feelings,” he said.

Am I crazy for thinking that the guy who Leeroy Jenkins’d his way into the opposing dugout is the last guy who gets to decide if there are hard feelings or not? Feel like the Pirates may feel a tad differently about things, at least as far as Garrett goes.

Yankees 7, Diamondbacks 5: Zack Greinke‘s final start for the Dbacks: five innings, two runs and seven strikeouts for a no-decision. Mike Tauchman hit a two-run homer to give the Yankees the lead, they lost the lead thanks to some sloppy defense, it rained, and then Austin Romine hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh to give it back to ’em. Gleyber Torres added an RBI double and Cameron Maybin hit a run-scoring single.

Blue Jays 4, Royals 1:  Bo Bichette hit his first career homer and Freddy Galvis‘ earlier homer. Rookie starter Jacob Waguespack, meanwhile, went six innings, holding the Royals to three hits and one run. The win gave the Jays the series sweep. They can hoist a banner for the sweep and put it right next to their “42 years of control” banner, maybe? And did you Jays fans get your t-shirts yet?

Dodgers 5, Rockies 1: Germán Márquez tossed six innings of shutout ball and the Colorado pen added two more. Those eight innings were matched by all zeroes from Dodgers starter Huyn-Jin Ryu and two Dodgers relievers. In this it was just the third time in the history of Coors Field that a game remained scoreless after eight innings and the first time it had happened in 11 years. All hell broke loose in the ninth, though, when Wade Davis came into the game, put two men on, gave up a three-run homer to Will Smith, put another guy on and then surrendered a two-run shot to Kristopher Negrón to make it 5-0. The Rockies got one in their half but that was all they got. Alex Verdugo had four hits on the day.

Tigers 9, Angels 1: Daniel Noris and four Tigers relievers stymied the Angels, allowing only one run on five hits on the afternoon. Brandon Dixon knocked in four via a two-run single and a two-run homer. Gordon Beckham added a three-run blast after the game was out of reach. The Angels last seven games came against the two worst teams in baseball, the Orioles and the Tigers. They were all home games. They went 2-5. Pretty damn inexcusable.

Giants 5, Phillies 1: San Francisco scored all five of their runs in the six and all five of those runs came on homers, with Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval and Kevin Pillar doing the honors. That gave Jeff Samardzija the win. Well, that and his six innings of shutout ball. Note: every few weeks I am reminded anew that Jeff Samardzija is still playing. I don’t know why he totally leaves my consciousness as an active player in between his appearances in my recaps, but he just kind of does. He’s only 34 but he feels like a player from 15 years ago or something.

Indians 10, Astros 4: Gonna assume this result was a function of the Astros having popped champagne corks at the trade deadline after picking up Greinke. I guess they’re entitled. And, given how they improved themselves, I think they have enough room to spare in the AL West to drop a game like this one. Robertó Perez homered twice and Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis each hit a three-run shot. Jose Urquidy was the Astros’ starter and he got shelled. Assuming everyone stays healthy, however, it’s also likely the last start he takes in a meaningful game this year thanks to the Greinke pickup.

Rays 8, Red Sox 5: Kevin Kiermaier returned, homering and tripling, Austin Meadows hit a three-run homer and Willy Adames also went deep to help the Rays win for the fifth time in six games. They had an early 5-0 lead and eventually scored six off of Boston starter Rick Porcello who, in response, murdered a couple of TV monitors:

When asked about it after the game he at first was confused and then was like, “oh yeah, I did that, huh?”

“I’m sorry?” he first said. When asked again what happened with the monitors, Porcello responded, “What about them?”

Porcello was then reminded that he smashed them, which prompted an apology. “Yeah, I hit them,” Porcello said. “Yeah, sorry, I forgot that I did that. It was a reaction of frustration, it’s not the behavior that I condone, obviously everybody gets frustrated. I kind of wish I did that without cameras being on me. I apologized to everyone that had to see that, yeah it’s just not behavior that I feel like is representative of me and my personality. The frustration got the best of me, so I apologize for that and to anybody that had to watch that.”

I’m not sure what’s more amusing: that he forgot he did that or that what he’s really sorry for is that he got caught doing it rather than being able to do it in private. I suppose his rage issue ain’t my problem but, really dude, you might wanna do some yoga or something.

Twins 7, Marlins 4: José Berríros was dominant, shutting out the Fish for seven and striking out 11. The Twins season-long homer parade likewise continued with Mitch Garver, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario putting the ball over the fence. GArver’s was a three-run shot, Rosario’s plated two. All of the Marlins runs came on a ninth inning grand slam from Brian Anderson which ultimately only mattered to his and Twins reliever Sean Poppen’s stat lines.

Cubs 2, Cardinals 0: Kyle Hendricks, who just kills the Cardinals every time, it seems,  scattered seven hits in seven innings and struck out seven to get his . . . eighth win. Dammit. So close. His ERA did drop to three point zero SEVEN, though, so it’s still a pretty strong line in numerology terms. The Cubbies’ runs scored on an Ian Happ single and a Cards throwing error. The win put the Cubs back in a tie with the Cardinals for first place.

Rangers 9, Mariners 7: The Rangers trailed 5-3 after the top of the fifth but Willie Calhoun hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the inning put them in front. They’d not trail again, extending the lead to 9-5 before the M’s scored again. Mike Minor picked up the win. Frankly, I was surprised he didn’t get dealt yesterday.

Brewers 4, Athletics 2: Lorenzo Cain hit a leadoff homer and Christian Yelich doubled in a run in the third to give the Brewers a lead they’d not relinquish. Jordan Lyles allowed one over five and the Milwaukee pen allowed one over four.

Two injured MVPs is a major bummer for baseball

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Last week Christian Yelich‘s season ended with a fractured kneecap. At the time he went down he was neck-and-neck with Cody Bellinger — I think a tad behind, though people may reasonably differ — and, at least by my reckoning, a hair or three above Anthony Rendon, Ketel Marte and Pete Alonso in the race for the NL MVP Award. As I wrote last week, I think that means Bellinger is going to walk away with the hardware when the winner is announced in November. Yelich’s injury will prevent him from making a late season surge to surpass Bellinger, but I think it would’ve taken a surge for him to do it.

Over the weekend we learned that Mike Trout’s season is over as well. He’ll be having foot surgery to deal with a nerve issue causing him pain. At the time he went down he was the clear frontrunner to win his third MVP Award. Unlike Yelich, I’m pretty sure Trout will still win the trophy. Sure, Trout hasn’t played since September 7, meaning that he’ll miss more time than Yelich will, but strained articles stumping for alternative candidates notwithstanding, his lead in the MVP race was more secure.

Trout’s 2019 ends with him setting a career high in homers with 45 and slugging percentage at .645—both of which lead the American League. He likewise leads the league in on-base percentage (.438), OPS (1.083), and in both Baseball-Reference.com’s and FanGraphs’ versions of WAR at 8.3 and 8.6, respectively. With just under two weeks to go it seems likely that Jorge Soler of the Royals will pass Trout for the home run lead, but he’s not an MVP candidate himself. Alex Bregman will likely pass him in walks. Trout seems pretty certain to finish with his lead in all or most of the other categories intact. That’s an MVP resume even if he’ll only have played in 134 games. To give the award to anyone else would be an exercise in narrative over reason. Something born of a desire to reward a guy — like, say, Bregman — for playing on a winning team as opposed to his individual accomplishments. Sure, voters are allowed to do that, but they’ve mostly eschewed such tendencies in recent years. It’d be a surprise if they backslid.

Even if Yelich’s and Trout’s injuries aren’t likely to radically change the MVP race — again, I think the NL’s was Bellinger’s to lose — they’re both still lamentable separate and apart from the fact that all injuries stink. Lamentable in a way that, unfortunately, creates a downer for baseball as it gets ready for the postseason.

The Brewers won the game in which Yelich went down and have won four of five since then. In so doing they have remained close in the race for the second Wild Card and currently stand one game back. They also have an insanely favorable schedule the rest of the way, exclusively facing the weak sisters of the National League in the Padres, Pirates, Reds and Rockies. Even so, it’s no gimmie — those Reds and Rockies games are on the road, and Great American Ballpark and Coors Field makes those bad teams better — and the reward at the end of this is likely to be a one-game play-in. You want your best player in any and all situations and the Brewers don’t have theirs. And won’t, even if they make the postseason and even if they win the Wild Card game. Having one of the game’s brightest stars on crutches for the playoffs is not something anyone at the league office wants.

The Angels have no such postseason concerns and haven’t had them for most of the season. Once again they’re terrible. As they have been for almost the entirety of Trout’s career. They’ve made the postseason only once in his career — back in 2014, losing the LDS in three games — and do not appear poised to put a winner on the field any time soon. Trout is still in his prime, obviously, but like all players he’ll either slow down or break down eventually. Given the state of the club, I’m not sure I’d put a ton of money on them being good, let alone consistently good, while Trout is still the best or even one of the few best players in baseball. The upside to me seems to be an Al Kaline situation with the Tigers, in which the team finally put it together behind him only after he began to age and miss time to injuries. Having the best player in baseball outside of the playoffs looking in is not something anyone at the league office should want either.

Yet here we are.

Injuries happen. Every contender is missing at least one and in some cases several important players. But for one MVP candidate to miss the postseason this year and another one to miss the postseason every year is a major bummer for a league that has a tough go of it marketing itself even under the best of circumstances.