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And That Happened: Monday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Rockies 3, Braves 1: This was a makeup game. For the Braves it meant they had to fly from New York for one game in Colorado and then back east to Toronto. Which, well, tough, it happens, but you wonder how mentally prepared everyone is when it does. The starting pitchers were certainly ready to go, as Julio Teherán and Tim Melville traded zeros for six and five innings, respectively. Then the teams traded sac flies before the Rockies’ Ryan McMahon hit a two-run homer in the ninth to put an end to the Braves eight-game winning streak:

Cardinals 12, Brewers 2: This was a shellacking. St. Louis smacked Gio Gonzalez around for eight runs in the first two frames, with a six-run second inning — highlighted by Marcell Ozuna‘s bases-loaded double — burying the Brew Crew. Yadier Molina and Paul DeJong each homered and drove in three. The Cardinals have won five in a row and find themselves up two and a half over the Cubs in the Central and a full five games over the Brewers.

This is now off by one game as it was tweeted before the Brewers lost this one, but really, kinda puts things in perspective about this Milwaukee team, eh? Saved by a quick start and everyone else sort of treading water most of the summer, but now all that treading has them sinking, relatively speaking:

Phillies 6, Pirates 5: The Battle of Pennsylvania. The loser gets the Turnpike. I dunno. I just hate the Pennsylvania Turnpike. If you’re ever going east just hang a right onto I-79 in Washington, Pennsylvania to Morgantown, West Virginia and then bop east on I-68 to Hancock, Maryland where you can either jog back up to Breezewood and points northeast or continue on to Baltimore/DC on I-70. It’s a gorgeous stretch of road with hills and nicely-banked curves through the mountains and very, very little truck traffic. Tell ’em your uncle Craigy sent ya.

Anyway, the Pirates and Phillies traded late homers, with Corey Dickerson hitting a two-run shot in the eighth to give Philly a one-run lead, Josh Bell hit a solo homer in the ninth to tie things at five and force extras, and then Sean Rodriguez hit a walkoff solo shot for Philly in the bottom of the tenth to win it:

Dickerson and Rodriguez used to play for the Pirates. Dickerson a few weeks ago, Rodriguez last year and a couple of years ago. This is important. This means something.

Reds 6, Marlins 3: Sonny Gray wins his tenth game after allowing two runs over six. Freddy Galvis backed him with a three-run homer on his four-RBI night while Eugenio Suárez and Phillip Ervin each hit dingers as well. Gray struggled a bit, walking five, but he settled down after an early rough start. How?

After a difficult first three innings, Gray went to the clubhouse and switched into a new uniform.

“I changed everything, it was weird,” Gray said. “You do some weird things every now and then. After the third I just tried to resettle and start over. Who cares what happens. Start this day over. I was in the clubhouse — didn’t have any clothes on. From the fourth inning on, I tried to go as long as I could.”

Maybe he should’ve tried pitching without any clothes on? Attendance for this one was like 5,500, so it’s not like there were many people in the ballpark to offend and/or excite. Pitch naked. It’s the only way to be, man.

Athletics 19, Royals 4: Someone ought to do a movie about Homer Bailey. Sort of a “Forrest Gump” thing in which he just sort of stumbles into the serendipity of $105 million contracts and getting traded to contenders and getting 19 runs of support and double-digit win totals long after he, objectively, ceased being a particular good pitcher. I truly mean no offense to Bailey with that. But the dude has had exactly two seasons — 2012 and 2013 — in which he either pitched in 30 games or more and/or was an above-average starter yet he’s in his 13th season, is richer than Croesus, and stands a decent shot at pitching in the playoffs this year. Jacob deGrom goes half a season not getting this kind of run support and he’ll be catching up on DVR stuff in October, most likely. The world is weird sometimes.

Anyway, Bailey allowed three over six against his former team while his hitters went hog wild. Marcus Semien homered, tripled and drove in a career-high seven. Jurickson ProfarMatt Chapman and Khris Davis all homered.  Josh Phegley had a career-high four hits, drove in three runs and scored three times. Three other dudes had three hits as the A’s put up the most runs they’ve scored all year. Oakland is tied with Tampa Bay for the second Wild Card.

Diamondbacks 6, Giants 4: It was 3-2 after six, but Eduardo Escobar — who had earlier scored on a wild pitch — knocked in two with a single in the seventh and Adam Jones hit a pinch-hit homer in the eighth. The Giants scored a couple in the ninth, but the Snakes held on. They also got a couple of great defensive plays from Jarrod Dyson, both in the sixth inning:

Yankees 5, Mariners 4: Mike Ford hit two homers and Gleyber Torres went deep as well to power the Bombers. Ford is hitting .353 with five homers in his last 12 games and would’ve have a place on this team if not for a ton of injuries. He was once a Rule 5 pick for the Mariners but they couldn’t find room for him on their roster. Funny how that works.

Padres 4, Dodgers 3: The Dodgers led 3-1 after the top of the sixth but the Padres rallied for three in the bottom half on an RBI single/run-scoring throwing error by A.J. Pollock and an RBI groundout by Manny Machado. Los Angeles is in a rare slump, dropping their third in four games.

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.