And That Happened: Wednesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Where we stand:

  • The race for the second National League Wild Card got fun last night as the Mets and Brewers won and the Cubs, Phillies, and Diamondbacks lost. That puts Milwaukee and Chicago in a dead tie in Wild Card position, the Phillies and the Mets are tied at two back and Arizona is two and a half back;
  • The Twins lost and the Indians won, bringing Cleveland to within four of the Twins. They have a three-game series on tap this weekend;
  • The Rays lost and the A’s won, meaning Tampa Bay is a half game in front of Oakland in first Wild Card position and Cleveland is a half game back of Oakland for the second Wild Card.

Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Braves 3, Phillies 1: Dallas Keuchel was fantastic again — he’s on a hell of a roll right now — allowing one run over six innings. Tyler Flowers‘ three-run homer was all the offense the Braves got and, ultimately, needed.

Orioles 7, Dodgers 3: The Dodgers’ hangover lineup and bullpen played about how you’d expect them to play the day after spraying beer and champagne all over each other. Jonathan Villar hit a three-run homer for the Orioles that proved to be MLB’s record-setting 6,105th homer of the season. Still two and a half weeks to play too. We’ve seen an average of 1.4 home runs per game this year. In 2017 it was 1.26 per game. Back in 2000 — the high point of the PED era — it was 1.17 homers per game.

Blue Jays 8, Red Sox 0: Four Jays pitchers combined for a two-hit shutout, with Trent Thornton doing most of the work, coming into the game in the third inning and blanking the Sox for five. Teoscar Hernández and Rowdy Tellez homered. Boston, who appears to have given up on the season, has lost five straight.

Mets 9, Diamondbacks 0: Steven Matz tossed six shutout innings, three relievers finished the job, Todd Frazier and Jeff McNeil each hit two homers and Brandon Nimmo hit one as the Mets win in a rout. They finished the game — played on 9/11 — with nine runs and eleven hits. I’m too lazy to insert the Richard Dreyfuss/mashed potatoes picture, but just imagine it’s here. I’m not too lazy to link what Hunter S. Thompson wrote over at ESPN2 on the night of 9/11/01, which for my money was about as dead damn spot-on a piece as anyone wrote at the time and holds true 18 years later. Yeah, it was on a sports site. The Good Doctor did not stick to sports even though he came up as a sports writer and, late in life, once again fancied himself a sports writer, God bless him.

Brewers 7, Marlins 5: Tied at five in the top of the ninth until Mike Moustakas hit a two-run homer to put Milwaukee over. It was his second two-run shot of the evening because, apparently, everyone hits two homers in game these days. The Brewers are keeping themselves in the playoff hunt even without Christian Yelich. Which makes me wonder what happens if they do beat out the Cubs for the Wild Card. Does that cause Yelich to actually lose MVP votes? Would the voters who use the “how screwed would the team be without him” reasoning actually be more likely to throw their support to Yelich if Milwaukee doesn’t make the postseason, on the basis that his key value was proven? I don’t have an MVP vote because the BBWAA is afraid of me, but if I did I don’t think I’d make it that complicated.

Nationals 6, Twins 2: Stephen Strasburg picks up his 17th win of the year after going six and allowing two in a workmanlike performance. Three shutout innings from the Nationals’ pen was just as impressive given how three innings of Nationals relief pitching is capable of going. Ryan Zimmerman and Trea Turner homered for the Nats. Zimmerman drove in three. Zimmerman leads the Nats in almost every hitting category, all-time. Sometimes a guy like that will get the nickname “Mr. [team name].” I don’t know if we can call him “Mr. National” though, because that sounds like a lame superhero name. Maybe not a mainstream superhero but perhaps one from one of those “imagine if superheroes were real” series in which the heroes were given sort of generic washes on broader hero archetypes. Sort of like how Homelander in “The Boys” is Superman gone wrong or what have you. “Mr. National” could be a riff on evil Captain America.  Coming this fall, only on Netflix.

Rangers 10, Rays 9: The Rangers led 7-2 after the first inning but blew that by the fourth to trail 8-7. In the seventh Rougned Odor came up and popped a three-run homer to put Texas back on top for good. Fifteen pitchers in a 10-9 September game that lasts over four hours is basically the platonic ideal of “Games Craig Hates to Even Think About Let Alone Recap” and for that reason I’m stopping now.

Indians 4, Angels 3: Carlos Santana homered in the first, Kevin Plawecki knocked in a run with a ground rule double in the second and then two batters later Francisco Lindor hit a homer scoring both himself and Plawecki. That was it for the Indians’ scoring but that’s all they needed as seven Cleveland pitchers combined to give up only three runs on seven hits. One of those relievers was Carlos Carrasco, who picked up the win.

Royals 8, White Sox 6: Jorge Soler hit two homers and had four hits in all. It was the third time this year Soler has homered more than once in a game. Adalberto Mondesí, Bubba Starling and Ryan O'Hearn also all went deep for Kansas City. Eloy Jiménez homered and drove in four runs for the Chisox.

Athletics 5, Astros 3: I see these guys decided to bring pitchers to the ballpark last night. Good choice for once. One of the pitchers the A’s brought was Jesús Luzardo, who made his big league debut and looked pretty good doing it, allowing one run in three innings in relief, with his only mistake a gopher ball to Martín Maldonado. Otherwise it was nasty stuff and swings and misses. He’s gonna be a good one. In other news, Sean Murphy and Marcus Semien homered. Astros starter José Urquidy was sharp, striking out ten in five innings, but the Astros’ bullpen wasn’t.

Rockies 2, Cardinals 1: These teams have combined to score a grand total of six runs in two games in Coors Field this week. The rest of baseball is playing on the moon but these guys are in the most offense-friendly ballpark in the history of the world and they’re cosplaying like it’s 1968. What a wild game baseball can be sometimes. Antonio Senzatela allowed one run over six and Ian Desmond hit a go-ahead home run in the sixth to give the Rockies the game. Afterwards they all went back home and watched “The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour,” “The Beverly Hillbillies,” and “Green Acres.” Those who stayed awake watched “Hawaii Five-O.” Wednesdays on CBS were lit back then. At least until The Rural Purge.

Pirates 6, Giants 3: You know your season is going well when the AP gamer puts a sentence like “Felipe Vazquez earned his 27th save two days after punching Kyle Crick in the clubhouse,” up high. I guess you go with what you got. It’s hard to write up a summary of a game involving two teams playing out the string who combined to use 36 players, none of whom had a stat line good enough to justify a lede. I’m so damn lucky I don’t have to write straight gamers and can, instead, talk about the 1968-69 network TV schedule. For example, I can note how on Thursday nights ABC ran a show called “The Ugliest Girl in Town” as the lead-in for “The Flying Nun,” “Bewitched,” and “That Girl.” You know some ABC exec was proud of himself for his “Girlie Thursdays” or whatever the hell someone might’ve called it in 1968.

I am fairly well-versed in Silver Age TV for a guy who didn’t live through it, but I had never heard of “The Ugliest Girl in Town.” Having read the synopsis for it, though, I now understand why I had never heard of it. Get a load of this:

Timothy Blair is a Hollywood talent agent. He falls in love with Julie Renfield, a British actress who is visiting the United States to do a movie. After the movie is finished, she returns to England. To help his brother Gene complete a photography assignment, Timothy dresses as a hippie and poses for a photo shoot. The photos are sent to a modeling agent in England who assumes they are of a woman. He offers “her” a job.

Knowing this would be the only chance to go to Great Britain and be with Julie, Timothy accepts and dubs himself “Timmie”. Timothy has two weeks of vacation to spend as much time with Julie as he can, but when he is about to leave with his brother, Gene loses £11,000 gambling. This, coupled with the fact that the talent agent discovers the brothers’ ruse and demands to recoup his investment, means Timothy has to continue being Timmie for a while longer.

Woof.

The Wikipedia page has this promo of the lead actor, Peter Kastner, as “Tim” and “Timmie”:

The show lasted 20 episodes but only 17 aired. I can’t for the life of me imagine why. A little over a decade later, of course, Tom Hanks would be propelled to stardom in “Bosom Buddies,” which was really the same riff, so what the hell do I know? Hollywood is messed up, man.

Padres 4, Cubs 0: Chris Paddack was strong, tossing six shutout innings and striking out seven. Cubs batters only mustered three hits in all in the whole dang game. Manuel Margot homered for the Friars.

Mariners 5, Reds 3: Sonny Gray was tossing a no-hitter into the seventh but rookie Kyle Lewis broke it up with a three-run homer, turning Gray’s would-be no-no into a loss. Lewis has now played two big league games and has homered in both of ’em. The M’s would tack on two more in the eighth.

Yankees vs. Tigers — POSTPONED: I usually put rain-related songs on postponements, but I’m inspired to do something else here:

La Russa steps down as White Sox manager over heart issue

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CHICAGO — Tony La Russa stepped down as manager of the Chicago White Sox on Monday because of a heart issue, ending a disappointing two-year run in the same spot where the Hall of Famer got his first job as a big league skipper.

La Russa, a three-time World Series champion who turns 78 on Tuesday, missed the final 34 games with the underachieving White Sox. He left the team on Aug. 30 and doctors ultimately told him to stay out of the dugout.

La Russa has a pacemaker implanted in February and doctors later found another heart problem that he has not detailed.

“It has become obvious that the length of the treatment and recovery process for this second health issue makes it impossible for me to be the White Sox manager in 2023,” he said in a statement. “The timing of this announcement now enables the front office to include filling the manager position with their other offseason priorities.”

Chicago began the season with World Series aspirations but was plagued by injuries and inconsistent play. It was 79-80 heading into Monday night’s game against Minnesota.

“Our team’s record this season is the final reality. It is an unacceptable disappointment. There were some pluses, but too many minuses,” La Russa said. “I was hired to provide positive, difference-making leadership and support. Our record is proof. I did not do my job.”

Bench coach Miguel Cairo took over after La Russa stepped away. The White Sox showed a spark right after the change, winning 10 of 14. But they dropped eight straight in late September, dashing their playoff hopes.

La Russa, who is close friends with White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, was a surprise hire in October 2020, and he directed the team to the AL Central title last year.

But the White Sox sputtered throughout much of 2022, and there were chants of “Fire Tony! Fire Tony!” at Guaranteed Rate Field.

“At no time have I been disappointed or upset with White Sox fans, including those who at times chanted `Fire Tony,”‘ La Russa said. “They come to games with passion for our team and a strong desire to win. Loud and excited when we win, they rightly are upset when we play poorly.”

All-Star shortstop Tim Anderson and sluggers Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert missed significant time because of injuries. Catcher Yasmani Grandal and third baseman Yoan Moncada also had health issues, and they underperformed when they were on the field.

There were embarrassing breakdowns, too, like when the White Sox ran themselves into the first 8-5 triple play in major league history during a loss to Minnesota on July 4.

La Russa continued to be a lightning rod for fans who weren’t thrilled with his hiring in the first place. His lineups came under question as did his decisions in games.

Some fans chanted for La Russa’s dismissal following a strange call for an intentional walk to to the Dodgers’ Trea Turner despite a 1-2 count on June 9. Bennett Sousa had just bounced an 0-2 slider, allowing the runner to advance from first to second.

With the base open, La Russa chose to walk Turner even though there were two strikes. It backfired when Max Muncy smacked a three-run homer, propelling Los Angeles to an 11-9 victory.

Another moment that raised eyebrows happened early in the 2021 season.

During a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati, La Russa was unaware of a rule that would have allowed him to use Jose Abreu as the automatic runner at second base rather than closer Liam Hendriks in the 10th inning.

With a 2,900-2,514 record over 35 years with Chicago, Oakland and St. Louis, La Russa trails only Connie Mack on baseball’s career wins list. He moved past John McGraw last season.

But there were big questions about whether La Russa was the right person for the job when the White Sox hired him to replace Rick Renteria. He hadn’t filled out a lineup card since 2011, when St. Louis beat Texas in the World Series. There were doubts about how someone known more for his scowl than smile would mesh with a fun-loving team that had just delivered the White Sox’s first playoff appearance since 2008.

Then, shortly after his hiring, news surfaced of an arrest on misdemeanor DUI charges.

La Russa blew out a tire on the Lexus he was driving in a collision with a curb that February in Arizona, after going to dinner with friends. The case was filed on Oct. 28, one day before the White Sox announced La Russa’s hiring.

He ended up pleading guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving and was sentenced to one day of home detention, a fine of nearly $1,400 and 20 hours of community service.

La Russa also pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in Florida in 2007 after police found him asleep and smelling of alcohol inside his running sport-utility vehicle at a stoplight.

La Russa captured championships with Oakland in 1989 and the Cardinals in 2006 and 2011. The former big league infielder and Sparky Anderson are the only managers to win the World Series in the American and National leagues.

He got his first major league managing job at age 34 when the White Sox promoted him from Triple-A to replace the fired Don Kessinger during the 1979 season. He took over that August and led them to a 522-510 record over parts of eight seasons.

The 1983 team won 99 games on the way to the AL West championship – Chicago’s first playoff appearance since the 1959 Go-Go White Sox won the pennant. But La Russa was fired in 1986 by then-general manager Ken Harrelson after the White Sox got off to a 26-38 start, a move Reinsdorf long regretted.