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And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

May 15, 2012, 5:54 AM EDT

Bryce Harper, Nick Hundley, Larry Vanover

Nationals 8, Padres 5: Bryce Harper golfed one more than 400 feet to straightaway center for his first ever major league homer. He also struck out on four pitches to Joe Thatcher and launched a really loud f-bomb. I love him for both reasons, frankly. And I love how the back end of the Nats bullpen continues to struggle. Henry Rodriguez came in with a three-run lead in the ninth and walked the bases loaded. Sean Burnett came in and induced a 1-2-3 double play to end it, but man, Davey has to figure out what to do about Rodriguez. Guy throws a billion miles per hour but he has no idea where it’s going half the time.

Reds 3, Braves 1: Jonny Venters: a lot closer to mortal this year than last. Brandon Phillips knocked a double off him as the Reds plated two in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie. Then Chris Heisey drove in Phillips with a double of his own. I was blacked out from watching this one and didn’t know what was going on until the ninth when I saw on the scoreboard that Livan Hernandez entered the game. He’s the Braves’ living white flag.

Rays 7, Blues Jays 1: Good news: the Rays win. Bad news: Jeff Niemann was knocked out in the first inning after taking a grounder to his ankle. Cesar Ramos and the bullpen brigade came to the rescue.

Mets 3, Brewers 1: Milwaukee mustered only four hits off Miguel Batista, who threw seven shutout innings. No offense to Batista, but the Brewers need to take a long look in the mirror after getting stifled like that by a pitcher like that.

Red Sox 6, Mariners 1: Jon Lester pitched a complete game, allowing only one run. Four in a row for Boston.

Pirates 3, Marlins 2: My daddy said “son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you don’t start games with old Brad Lincoln.” Um, let’s forget I said that. Anyway: Lincoln allowed two runs in six innings after switching from starting to the pen.

Phillies 5, Astros 1: Placido Polanco is in a season-long funk, but a homer gave him his 2000th career hit. One of the more under-the-radar 2000-hit players in big league history, I’d reckon. Joe Blanton continues his nice recent work, allowing one run on six hits in seven innings.

Indians 5, Twins 4: Jeanmar Gomez pitched seven strong innings but his bullpen betrayed him. Shin-Soo Choo came through in the ninth with the go-ahead single.

Cubs 6, Cardinals 4: The Cards have cooled off big time, dropping their fourth straight. The Cubs finally scored some runs in a Ryan Dempster start, but not all when he was in the game. Meanwhile Dempster himself allowed four. Bryan LaHair went 3 for 4 and hit a two-run homer.

Royals 3, Rangers 1: Bruce Chen and four relievers douse the scorching Rangers lineup. A Nelson Cruz homer was all that was doin’ for Texas.

Yankees 8, Orioles 5Ivan Nova was first ineffective and then injured, spraining his right ankle while fielding a tapper back to the mound. the Yankees pen hurled three and two-thirds innings of shutout ball, however, while a Mark Teixeira homer led the late Yankees charge. A-Rod, Robinson Cano and Teixeira were a combined 7 for 14 with two RBI and seven runs scored. That’s the sort of middle-of-the-order production New York hadn’t been getting in the early going.

White Sox 7, Tigers 5: Detroit had a 5-2 lead but then starter Drew Smyly ran out of gas and reliever Luke Putkonen — who if you asked me before I saw this box score, I would have said wasn’t a real person — unraveled. Detroit is now under .500. Dayan Vicido drove in four on a two-run homer and a two-run single. Adam Dunn homered again too and is slugging over .600 on the season.

Giants 3, Rockies 2:  Buster Posey and Brett Pill RBI singles in the eighth bring the Giants back after Christian Friedrich shut them down bigtime in his seven innings, in which he struck out ten.

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: No Matt Kemp? No problem, as with Clayton all things are possible (7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER).

Athletics 5, Angels 0: Anaheim’s nightmare season continues, as Tyson Ross shuts them out for six and the pen shuts them out for three. Oakland has won eight of 12.

  1. KR - May 15, 2012 at 6:52 AM

    Had tickets for Padres-Nats, but with the rain and all I ended up not going. Sounds like I probably could have gone and at least hung out under the overhang or something for awhile, but oh well. Hard to make that call when I don’t live all that close to the park, and especially when trying to bring a 1-year-old. If it had been just me I would have gone for it.

    Anyway, nice Hot Rod Lincoln reference.

    • recoveringcubsfan - May 15, 2012 at 7:24 AM

      You should go next time (kid and all). The ushers are good about letting people move around the park, especially for weather reasons, and there are lots of covered areas to watch from.

      • prophet215 - May 15, 2012 at 9:23 AM

        No way! There’s open seats in the Nationals ballpark?

  2. mungman69 - May 15, 2012 at 6:53 AM

    Palanco started real slow this year but his average is up to .280. The Phillies will need a lot more than him to win the east.

    • drmonkeyarmy - May 15, 2012 at 7:44 AM

      Well naturally….the offense has been much better recently though. Getting the bullpen sorted seem to be the key to the season at this point.

  3. recoveringcubsfan - May 15, 2012 at 7:23 AM

    The Nats bullpen continues to be good, you mean, with the recent exception of Rodriguez. Stammen has been awesome, Clippard has had 3 good outings in a row, and Sean Burnett isn’t getting hammered and closed the game last night on short notice. It’s only Rodriguez who seems to be falling apart. They could use another arm, sure. And, not to Natpick, but no words at all for the spooky injury to Leon? Will Harper have to be the emergency catcher?

    As for the Cubs, Brian LaHair is the reason I’m a slowly-recovering fan. The org has him in the minors until he’s too old to be anything but a stopgap they can burn when they’re desperate, then he lights up the world and now they have to decide what to do with Rizzo. Your head says “sell high!” because Rizzo is clearly the future at 1B for them, but your heart says “let the kid have his year in the sun!” Stupid Cubs.

    • natstowngreg - May 15, 2012 at 8:18 AM

      True, but a terrible 9th by Henry can ruin all the good work of Stammen, Clippard, et. al. Not acceptable.

      Horrible break for Leon. A 23-year old kid gets an unexpected callup from AA, plays his first MLB game, gets hurt halfway through, goes on the 60-day DL with a high ankle sprain.

    • Alex K - May 15, 2012 at 9:37 AM

      On LaHair- He has only been with the Cubs since 2010. Blame the Mariners for him not getting a real shot earlier.

  4. slavetothetrafficlight - May 15, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    No more high socks from Harper? Boo

    • dondada10 - May 15, 2012 at 7:39 AM

      In fairness, the old-school community didn’t exactly embrace him.

  5. leerosenthall - May 15, 2012 at 7:26 AM

    Placido Polanco (now hitting .281 thanks to a very good May, Craig) hits a homerun for his 2,000th major league hit and all he gets is a dismissive comment about his “season-long funk”? He also scored three of the Phils’ five runs and made a fantastic play to rob Altuve of extra bases when he led off the game. Polanco, BTW, hasn’t made an error yet this season. Oh, I forgot, you’d already proclaimed his career over so I guess any accomplishments he makes after a terrible April at the plate don’t count. Maybe he should break some bats and return to the field bleeding. That should earn him some praise.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 15, 2012 at 7:29 AM

      And his OBP is still .315. He’s had a nice week. Let’s not go crazy.

      • drmonkeyarmy - May 15, 2012 at 7:48 AM

        I just think leerosenthall is saying the comment “season long funk” is a bit of an overstatement. Particularly when you consider that over the past four weeks his OPS is .799 with an OBP of .360. So perhaps the funk you speak of actually started to wain after the first two weeks of the season.

      • leerosenthall - May 15, 2012 at 9:22 AM

        He’s had a nice *month.* And he still has a great glove at third base, regardless of how limited I’m sure you’ll argue his range is.

  6. El Bravo - May 15, 2012 at 7:30 AM

    Livan helped the braves beat the cards in extras the other night. Having an innings eater is a lot more essential than what you call a ‘white flag.’ I think his addition has and will be a good thing. We can all laugh at 65mph pitches… but he gets it done

  7. darthicarus - May 15, 2012 at 7:57 AM

    Luke Putkonen, with a silent T…Mike Francesca doesn’t believe he’s real either. Al Alburquerque is finally off the hook as “least likely to be a real reliever for the Tigers”.

  8. Old Gator - May 15, 2012 at 8:02 AM

    The Feesh continue in anemia mode, wasting another good pitching performance by Anibal Sanchez and sending up such fearsome icons as Tweeter (.180 or so RISP) and the grossly overpaid John (.202 and happy to have it ) Buck in critical eighth inning situations to strike out and pop up with the tying and winning runs on base. With a couple of exceptions like the resurgent Jose Reyes or Omar Infante, the Rainbow Warriors wandered to and from the batter’s box as if they were trying to hide having fouled their pants in the dugout. Perhaps they were depressed by the conclusion of the stone crab season, of having to fall back on farm-raised tilapia until October. Eccchhhh.

    Then again, you have to give Jason Grilli (I had no idea he was still around, but then who knows what goes on in Peetsburgh, buckle on the rust belt hidden in its mountainous keep) credit for working the edges of the plate as well as he did in the eighth last night, and then buzzing 95-mph fastballs right by the clueless Feesh batters while Reyes and the Hanster died on base.

    I haven’t checked the team RISP after last night – the Feesh went their usual dazzling 1-for-8 – but it had inched up a hair the night before on the strength of the Iron Giant’s grand slam moonshot. They came into the weekend with the worst RISP in the majors and I figure if they’re not still at the bottom of the barrel, they’re ready to drop back into it tonight.

    Gabby Sanchez got a hit, boosting his average to an incomprehensible .198. He’s been just awful since midway through last season and at this point you have to start wondering if this is really as good as he’s ever going to be again. If the Feesh want to make any noise in this division – and they certainly have opportunities – they have to start thinking hard about unloading some of their overpaid dead weight like Buck and Sanchez, and hoping they can hide Tweeter’s situational ineptitude so that they can move him for some contact hitters if his knee shows signs of coming around. Otherwise, though their peetching will allow them to embark on some hot streaks like last week’s, they’re going to have too many enervated nights at the plate like last night to be serious contenders this season.

    • Jonny 5 - May 15, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      Gator, I mailed you something. It should be coming through your computer tubes shortly.

      • Old Gator - May 15, 2012 at 11:20 AM

        Saw it. Well, since I don’t own any cattle – they rough up the lawn and damage the ozone (though believe it or not, there is actually a bit of a controversy among climatologists over whether they do the most damage by burping or farting – double-though, there’s a bit of a discussion about the same problem concerning tea party activists); ergo, I never did want to learn much about sheep and cattle castration techniques. Every so often I’ll wander out in the yard and watch Fido, our Hemingway hound, running up and down the trees and the wall playing with the birds. I think he’s scared away all the raccoons and possums, though, because nothing has been getting into our garbage since just after we brought him home from Key West.

        He’s amassed quite a little supply of those dried out potato-chip treaties, some with fur on them, some with feathers, so I don’t need to spend any money at PetSmart on rawhide chews. On the other hand, we still can’t get him to eat his Science Diet, even with that tasty coat oil on it – we really need to do something about his shedding; we’re getting tired of tweezing his hairs out of our palms every time we pet him.

        Ah, I see it’s going to rain this afternoon – finally (Stephanie Abrams hasn’t given me an accurate forecast since the Weather Channel moved her to New York) – so I guess I gotta go out now and coax Fido down from his favorite spot on the back wall under the awning. And then it’s off to the parched grasses of Macondo Banana Massacre Field to watch the Feesh take on the Pyrites.

    • sdelmonte - May 15, 2012 at 9:00 AM

      At last Jose wakes up. Though what I’m waiting for is him to start hitting trip at home the way he did at Citi. Same vast distances for the ball to roll to the wall, same speed. Same bat?

      • Old Gator - May 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM

        Well, it’s not the pink one anymore, at least.

        We knew he’d wake up if he stayed healthy – but the Feesh’s problem isn’t going to be getting guys on base; it’s going to be driving them in, just as it was last season. They need a reliable RBI guy. Hanley has been too streaky, and the Iron Giant is awesome when he connects but he still strikes out too much. Gabby Sanchez just isn’t finding his way home from his wanderings in the offensive wilderness, and Tweeter has always been overrated (aside from being a mediocre outfielder); the Feesh blew their chance to trade him for something substantial last weenter when GMs kept asking for him as part of any number of deals.

        Ah well. I expect the Mutts to sink to the bottom on their own by season’s end, and if the Gnats’ boolpen doesn’t right itself and the Feelies deconstruct themselves at the trade deadline, the Feesh have a golden opportunity, if not for the division, then certainly for the wild card slot. The question is whether they’ll implode again for lack of run production like they did last season.

  9. cleverbob - May 15, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Joe Blanton says, “I got your 4 aces right here”. Maybe we could get some decent bullpen/bench help in exchange for him at the deadline. Or sooner. Sell high!

  10. dink53 - May 15, 2012 at 8:13 AM

    Wow. A Commander Cody reference. Your Mom must have told you about the LPA, right?

  11. aceshigh11 - May 15, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    Didn’t see the game, but Lester finally pitched a real gem. That was just what this team needed.

    This is still almost certainly going to be a lost season for the Red Sox, but hopefully they can at least save face and regain a bit of lost dignity and self-respect.

  12. schmedley69 - May 15, 2012 at 8:35 AM

    Another huge crowd at Natitude Park last night.

    • Craig Calcaterra - May 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

      It was raining.

      • prophet215 - May 15, 2012 at 9:27 AM

        Nice excuse, Billy Peltzer. Next time, tell us it was humid.

      • themuddychicken - May 15, 2012 at 9:50 AM

        But… it WILL be humid!

        I’ll be curious to see what the crowd will be like Wednesday if the T-storms can stay away, this will be the first time I’ve been to the park this year when it’s not a weekend.

      • natstowngreg - May 15, 2012 at 12:52 PM

        Humid is the normal state of Nats Town in the spring and early summer.

        Attendance will improve as more front-runners realize that Nats Park is the place to be. This requires the team to continue winning. That, and the schools let out for summer.

  13. Jonny 5 - May 15, 2012 at 8:41 AM

    I must have listened to “The hot rod Lincoln” Hundreds of times. No matter how old that song is, and how many times I hear it, I don’t get sick of it. Which is strange to me really when I think of it.

  14. deathmonkey41 - May 15, 2012 at 9:47 AM

    Let’s not forget that a young, upstart shortstop for the New York Yankees moved into 17th place on the all time hit’s list last night.

    • natstowngreg - May 15, 2012 at 1:02 PM

      It still amazes me that despite all the great hitters in Yankee history, Jeter was the first to 3,000 hits. Granted, there were reasons. The Babe spent his early career as a pitcher. Gehrig died. Joe D retired early. The Mick was hurt a lot. On the other hand, they played in eras where top players tended to remain with one team (Ruth’s trade notwithstanding). Jeter has not.

  15. seeinred87 - May 15, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Luke Putkonen has kind of sucked for the Tigers so far, but with that Finnish last name I can’t help but root for him.

  16. uyf1950 - May 15, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    The AL East race just got a whole lot closer after Monday’s games.

  17. APBA Guy - May 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

    You saw from the crowds at the Detroit series that there is getting to be a buzz about the A’s. No, there isn’t a horde of African bees infesting the Mausoleum. Though that could happen at any moment if someone spills a lemonade. But it’s the strange confluence of events and surprising performances that have yielded a surprising, slightly above .500 record so far.

    Last night in Anaheim (is there better weather anywhere than Orange County? Only in Hawaii) the A’s got shutout work from Tyson Ross. Surprisingly, with Torrii Hunter absent, Albert in a continuous funk, and nobody but Trumbo hitting really well, the A’s slapped is-that-really-Dan-Haren around for 4 earned runs and vaulted past the Angels to 11th in the AL in runs scored.

    While Cespedes provided the gawk factor early on, the guys doing actual damage are Reddick .289/.340/.549 and Seth Smith, who has raised his totals lately to nearly .800 OPS. The other guys collectively are worshiping at the Altar of Mendoza, but at least they can catch the ball from average to much better than average.

    No Ingesanity last night either. His groin injury has recurred, and in true MLB fashion we don’t know how serious it is.

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