The Wednesday Takeaway
Eight days ago in this very space, Nicolas Stellini shared with us the story of Paul Clemens experiencing the agony of defeat as he quite literally threw away a game for the Padres against the Blue Jays. It’s not often that you see a game end via walk-off wild pitch; or, uh, is it?

Miami went into the bottom of the ninth inning with a two-run lead, and handed the ball over to A.J. Ramos with the hopes of finishing off the Cubs and escaping a three-game sweep at the Friendly Confines. Instead, things immediately got off to a bad start for Ramos, as the very first pitch he threw was sent to the left field wall by Miguel Montero for a leadoff double. The Cubs then picked up a single and a walk, and Ramos entered his first bases-loaded situation of the inning.

He was able to get the first out of the ninth inning when Dexter Fowler flew out, plating one run on a sacrifice fly. This cut the two-run lead to one, and things were only going to get scarier for the Marlins from there.

The worst thing about the agony of defeat is when there’s a glimmer of hope that you can avoid defeat and experience the thrill of victory. That glimmer of hope showed up when A.J. Ramos managed to strike out Kris Bryant. Miami was one out away from waking up from the nightmare and laughing about the wacky dream of the ninth inning.

All of that changed in the span of seven pitches after Miami intentionally walked Anthony Rizzo. The first five included four balls to Ben Zobrist, whose walk brought in the tying run.

Then, after a first-pitch strike to Wilson Contreras, Ramos misfired all the way to the brick backstop, where the ball careened wildly toward the on-deck batter. Walk-off wild pitch.

Even if you have someone to share the agony of defeat with, that doesn’t make it any less bitter a pill to swallow. Ramos has had a decent season so far—he had a 3.11 DRA and an 89 cFIP over 45 appearances—and he’ll have plenty of chances to put this behind him. With that being said, the Cubs surely aren’t complaining about Ramos’ struggles. Someone had to enjoy the thrill of victory on this day, and it ended up being the crew from the North Side.

Quick Hits
Max Scherzer turned Chase Field into his personal playground on Wednesday. Scherzer went into this game with a K/9 of 11.3; sure enough, he finished his eight-inning outing against the Diamondbacks with 11 strikeouts. This was Scherzer’s ninth game this season in which he recorded 10+ strikeouts, and other than giving up two dingers and three runs, it was a vintage performance from the 32-year-old righty.

Not only was he great on the mound, but he also gave himself some run support as well. His two-run single put the Nats up by three and gave Washington the cushion they needed to eventually win the game 8-3.

Cleveland came away from Monday’s trade deadline as one of the winners, so naturally they followed that up by losing three consecutive games to the Minnesota Twins. As a matter of fact, the Twins have gone into Progressive Park and scored 35 runs in those three games. Thirty-five!

Meanwhile, Cleveland scored five runs during their loss on Wednesday and that was only two more than the number of ejections that they picked up on the evening.

Elsewhere in the A.L. Central, the Detroit Tigers have won eight straight games and are now only two games back of Cleveland. They were able to get closer to their rivals from Ohio thanks to the return of J.D. Martinez. He came, he saw one pitch, he put that pitch deep into the batter’s eye in center field, and he returned to home plate as a conqueror. Welcome back, J.D.

Defensive Play of the Day

The past 48 hours of Scott Schebler’s baseball life have been quite eventful. After hitting a monstrous walk-off homer against the Cardinals on Tuesday night, Schebler delivered a couple of defensive diamonds as an encore on Wednesday night.

What to Watch on Thursday

Two division leaders in the American League have been doing baseball battle this week, and so far the Baltimore Orioles have gotten the best of the Texas Rangers. Dylan Bundy stymied Texas on Tuesday night during a 5-1 victory for Baltimore, then the O’s jumped on Cole Hamels in the first inning of last night’s game for three runs, and made those three runs stick for what was eventually a 3-2 win. Now it’s time to see if the Rangers can manage to leave Camden Yards with at least one victory. August isn’t exactly October, but a sweep here for the Orioles could serve as a major warning shot for what could happen in two months time.

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The Ben Zobrist who drove in the tying run is the same Ben Zobrist, batting clean-up, that Joe Maddon asked to bunt with two strikes, even when the count went to 3-2, and men on 1st and 2nd in the previous inning. Having your clean-up hitter bunt in this situation has to take the cake as far as bizarre managerial moves go. Hughes and Coomer almost fell out of the booth when he bunted with the full count. This "strategy"(?????) failed, and justice prevailed, when Contreras chased a pitch that was in Peoria and Heyward, surprise, failed to get a hit.
Ramos was able to strike out Bryant with the aid of a VERY generous outside corner from the ump.