Here a Fall, There a Fall…

Non-Support Dept. — Yes, the Pirates' über-pitching prospect Paul Skenes came as advertised. He struck 7 out in four innings and hit 107 on the radar gun seven times, before allowing fifth inning-opening back-to-back hits. Were his Pirates grateful?

It depends on how you define "gratitude." Skenes left with a 5-run lead. The bullpen got two quick outs from there, but then barfed the bases loaded with a hit batsman. Then the Pirates pen handed out four straight bases-loaded walks from there, surrendered a run-scoring infield hit to keep them loaded and break the routine, because what followed were two straight bases-loaded walks more.

Skenes knows he'll have to get used to the highs and lows of major league life as it is. Bet on it: he never thought he'd see his first major league outing turned from a 5-run lead turned into a 2-run deficit in the same inning he departed and with only one of the seven Cubs runs in the frame scoring by way of a batted ball. It took Yasmani Grandal's 3-run homer and Andrew McCutchen's solo bomb to turn the mess into a 10-7 Pirates win.

Cecil Turtle, Call Your Office Dept. — Bet on the Pirates getting more laughs from their Bradenton Marauders (Single-A) affiliate on the same day than they got making turtle soup out of Skenes' much-hyped premiere. Top of the second vs. the Port St. Lucie Mets: Enter ... the rally turtle. A particularly swift afoot turtle slipped onto the field and eluded outfielders Sergio Campana and Esmerlyn Valdez. Enter Marauders relief pitcher Magdiel Cotto, who scurried over from his bullpen perch and managed to catch the trotting turtle and bring him to a safe haven in the pen.

We don't know whether the Marauders plan to send the turtle up against any hare any time soon. (It's a safe bet that this little guy would give any hare a run for its carrots.) We do know that good things came to he who finally saved the little turf runner. Cotto finished the Marauders win with two innings of spotless relief.

So There ... We Think Dept. — The bad news for the Braves: J.D. Martinez spoiling their combined no-hitter with his first home run as a newly-minted Met, going deep with two out in the top of the ninth in Atlanta. The worse news for the Mets: they still lost, 4-1.

Even When You Win, You Lose Dept. — That kind of year for the Cardinals: they won two overturned calls on replay reviews in a game's first three innings ... and manager Oliver Marmol plus bench coach Daniel Descalso got thrown out of the game by plate umpire Alan Porter after the second overturn.

Both Marmol and Descalso seemed irate over first base ump Sean Barber blowing both calls on plays at first. Marmol admitted postgame he was just trying to fire his team up. The Cardinals did end up beating the Brewers, 4-3. But which look was worse: their manager and bench coach being tossed after a second successful challenge; or, the plate ump appearing to make an example of them when his first base ump and not himself was their target?

Bird on a High Wire Dept. — Felix Bautista going down with Tommy John surgery sent the Orioles to the desperation market to sign free agent relief veteran Craig Kimbrel. He started off, picked up, and went 9 scoreless innings in nine straight appearances. Just when the Orioles thought they had their ninth-inning pitching issue solved, Kimbrel went from there to post a 23.14 ERA over his following five appearances.

He's had two straight scoreless gigs since but the Orioles aren't taking chances. The word is that they have eyes upon three closing possibilities for whom to deal, all three of whom are well established but with struggling teams this year: Ryan Helsley (Cardinals), Ryan Pressly (Astros), and Jordan Romano (Blue Jays). The Orioles, obviously, aren't that willing to over-tax the crash carts.

Must-Not-See-TV Dept. — Barely had Shohei Ohtani's ex-interpreter Ippei Mizuhara agreed to plead guilty to bank fraud for ripping off the Angels-turned-Dodgers star when Tony-winning producer Scott Delman and sportswriter Albert Chen announced they're going to produce a television series about the scandal. The temptation is to suggest that Ohtani, who's having an MVP-type season for the Dodgers otherwise, and who was the clear victim of Mizuhara's theft, has been punished enough for his ex-interpreter's crimes.

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