And That Happened: Sunday's scores and recaps

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Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 2:
The game story headlines give credit for the win to the Sox shaking up
their lineup — Pedroia hit leadoff and Ellsbury dropped to eighth —
but Ellsbury actually got on base more than Pedroia did in this game
and wasn’t on base for either of Kevin Youkilis’ home runs. Hey, why
don’t we give Kevin Youkilis the credit for the win? Or maybe Jon
Lester (6 IP 3 H, 1 ER, 12K)? The lineup shakeup seems fairly
insignificant to me here.

Mets 3, Marlins 2:
John Maine pitches six shutout innings and then left the game because
he was barfing. Pansy. He shoulda just rubbed some dirt on it and
toughed it out. No I don’t know where she should have rubbed
the dirt. My mom once taught me that there is a pressure point related
to nausea is on the back of your hand, right at the webbing between
your thumb and your index finger, so maybe that would have helped. I
tried that once, but that treatment must not be rated for
hangover-related nausea.

Phillies 4, Nationals 2:
Jamie Moyer wins his 250th. Guys who don’t have as many career wins as
Jamie Moyer: Juan Marichal, Three-Finger Brown, Whitey Ford, Luis
Tiant, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez,
John Smoltz and Sandy Koufax. If you look at it from one direction,
it’s proof positive that win-totals aren’t all that important when it
comes to rating a pitcher, because Moyer isn’t as good as any of those
guys were. But it’s not meaningless, and Moyer has certainly been a lot
more useful in his career than anyone ever would have thought he’d be.
Hall of Fame discussions are always something of a chore. Moyer is a
lock for the Hall of Very Good, though, and in many ways I like HoVG
players more than Hall of Famers.

Twins 3, Rays 2:
Matt Garza says hello to his old team for the first time since the
trade. And he pitched well (7 IP, 7 H, 3 ER), but Nick Blackburn
pitched a little better (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER). Twins’ reliever Jose Mijares
caught a ball that smacked off of one of those catwalks up near the
roof in Tropicana. Fun and all, but I have no idea how we ever allowed
that stadium into Major League Baseball. Given that no one in St. Pete
seems to want the Rays to build a new one anyplace, can we commission a
study to see whether that can’t simply take a can opener to that joint
and retrofit it with some sort of retractable roof? A new park would
cost hundreds of millions. Could some unique fix to the old one really
be that expensive?

Astros 2, Pirates 1:
Mike Hampton wins. The AP game story says this: “[Hampton] became only
the second pitcher to win eight in a row against the Pirates since
1954, improving to 12-3 lifetime against Pittsburgh.” Which is pretty
meaningless considering that before the two starts he’s had against
Pittsburgh this season, he hadn’t faced them since 2003. And to get to
that eight-win total, you have to count two wins in 2000, when the
Pirates were giving nearly 200 at bats to Luis Sojo, and Mike Hampton
still had some of his original ligaments. It’s kind of like saying that
I haven’t lost at four square since 1985 after teaching my daughter how
to play it over the weekend. Technically true, but utterly meaningless.

Tigers 3, Orioles 0:
I promised some Baltimore fans that I’d start saying more nice things
about the Orioles. Maybe I’ll start tomorrow, because Edwin Jackson (8
IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 7K) didn’t do much to showcase their charms yesterday.
The Matt Wieters debut weekend ends thusly: 2-11, 2B, 3B and three
strikeouts. The extra base hits are nice, but he’s not exactly bringing
his “Z Game” yet.

White Sox 7, Royals 4:
Greinke’s outing wasn’t bad for mere mortals (7 IP, 8 H, 4R, 3 ER, 7K,
0 BB), but compared to the way he’s been pitching it was a shellacking.
He still shoulda gotten the win, however, some suspect defense,
hibernating bats and three runs from the bullpen killed it for him. The
Royals have dropped 16 of 21 games, which means it’s pretty safe to say
that the little Cinderella story they were trying to put together is,
for all intents and purposes, over.

Brewers 5, Reds 2:
What a letdown: Yovani Gallardo vs. Micah Owings, and neither of them
go deep. Look guys: you two represent the best chance at us getting rid
of the DH. You have to hit, and hit with authority if we’re going to
convince anyone that pitchers batting is fun to watch. Trevor Hoffman
is 13 for 13 in save opportunities. And while this one was a three-run
affair, six of those saves came in one-run games and another three in
two run games, there haven’t been a ton of cheapies here.

A’s 5, Rangers 4:
Adam Kennedy hit two homers, including what ended up being the game
winner in the ninth. After not making the Rays out of spring training
and then starting the year in Sacramento, Kennedy is at .390/.462/.622
in 93 plate appearances. I’d say he’s in the running along with Juan
Pierre and Andruw Jones for comeback player of the year award, but
whereas those other two at least once arguably rocked their peers and
put suckas in fear, Kennedy was never any good in the first place. So
no, I won’t call it a comeback.

Padres 5, Rockies 2:
20 homers for Adrian Gonzales. Fifteen of them have come on the road.
There’s been talk about the Padres needing to trade Gonzales. And I can
totally see that. The biggest problem is that most of the contenders
this year have no need for a first baseman. Sure, maybe the Sox could
use him to replace David Ortiz, but beyond that the contender who could
use him the most is the Rangers. My guess is that San Diego keeps
Gonzales, but man, could you imagine him hitting in Texas?

Giants 5, Cardinals 3:
Rich Aurilia hit a homer in the 7th to put the Giants ahead to stay. In
other news, Rich Aurilia is still alive. From the game story: “La Russa
batted his pitcher eighth in all three games of the series and has done
so every game since May 18. The team is 8-5 during that stretch.” On a
related note, I haven’t had oatmeal for breakfast since early February,
and I have not been hit by a bus during that stretch.

Indians 5, Yankees 4:
Pavano deserved the win, but didn’t get it thanks to the
always-reliable Cleveland bullpen. The Tribe will take the win, though.
They’re probably less satisfied with having to put Grady Sizemore on
the DL before the game and the fact that Victor Martinez whacked the
hell out of his knee on Saturday night keeping him out of the lineup.

Braves 9, Diamondbacks 3:
The Braves lineup, which has been on a saltpeter diet recently, sprung
to life against Max Scherzer, rattling out fifteen hits. Chipper Jones
was 3-4 with 4 RBI and he and Johnson and Escobar combined to go 9-15,
scoring seven of the Braves’ nine runs. Also, Kris Medlen offered his
first effective start of the season, giving up one run and striking out
nine over six innings.

Angels 9, Mariners 8:
Seattle had leads of 6-0 and 8-1 before woofing this one away. Which
was only fair, seeing as the Angels did the same favor for them on
Saturday night. Ichiro has now hit in 24 straight and has his average
up to .354.

Dodgers 8, Cubs 2:
Sean Marshall was as hittable last night as Eric Milton was a couple of
years ago (4.1 IP, 8 H. 8 R), and Eric Milton was pretty decent once
again (5.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). I watched this one on TV, and though I know
how much some people hate night games in Wrigley, the park looks
absolutely gorgeous as the sun is going down and the day fades into
night.

The Rays are considering reliever Tyler Clippard

New York Mets pitcher Tyler Clippard throws during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League baseball championship series against the Chicago Cubs Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
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On Thursday, we learned that the Diamondbacks were still considering free agent reliever Tyler Clippard. You can add the Rays to the list as well, per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.

The Rays traded lefty reliever Jake McGee to the Rockies in exchange for outfielder Corey Dickerson in late January, so Clippard would be able to slot right in behind closer Brad Boxberger. Clippard, 30, compiled a 2.92 ERA with 64 strikeouts and 31 walks over 71 innings in a season split between the Athletics and Mets. The strikeout rate was at its lowest since the right-hander become a full-time reliever in 2009, and his walk rate was at its highest since 2010, which may be a factor in his still being a free agent in February.

Report: Juan Uribe is too expensive for the Giants

New York Mets' Juan Uribe follows the flight of his solo home run off Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Chris Rusin in the third inning of a baseball game Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
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ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that, while the Giants are interested in free agent Juan Uribe, the utilityman’s asking price is too high for the club. Despite having a capable starter at every position, the Giants are a bit thin on depth and Uribe would be a nice fit given his versatility.

Uribe, 36, spent last season with the Dodgers, Braves, and Mets. He hit a combined .253/.320/.417 with 14 home runs and 43 RBI over 397 plate appearances. In his only postseason plate appearance for the Mets, he hit an RBI single in Game 3 of the World Series against the Royals.

Uribe has mostly played third base in recent seasons, but also has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop.

A study showed “grit” isn’t always a great attribute

Washington Nationals left fielder Bryce Harper slides into third with a three RBI triple during the third inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Friday, April 25, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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This popped up in my Twitter feed and I felt it had some applicability to baseball. This past October, Olga Khazan of The Atlantic highlighted a study in which researchers from the University of Southern California and Northeastern University performed three separate but related experiments to determine how “gritty” their subjects were.

One experiment had them solve anagrams. The second, a computer game. Finally, the third test had them solve math problems. Those who were deemed “grittier” attempted to solve fewer anagrams, which means they were sticking too long with difficult words rather than skipping and moving onto easier ones. The “grittier” crowd worked harder when losing at the computer game, but worked only as hard as the less-gritty when winning. With the math problems, the subjects when stuck were given a choice to take $1 and quit or keep going for a potential reward of $2 but $0 if they failed. The study showed that the “grittier” people weren’t any more productive but were more willing to risk the $1 for the doubled prize.

“Grit” is also a common colloquialism in baseball circles, used to refer to players who always run out a routine ground ball or pop-up. Other common characteristics include a willingness to dive for fly balls, slide into players to break up double plays, and to stick up for their teammates when there’s a disagreement between members of two teams. Often, those deemed “gritty” are in many other ways subpar players, but their perceived “grit” gives them value.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper is a rare superstar player who has earned the “grit” descriptor. There are many examples showing why he has earned it, but the most famous incident occurred on May 13, 2013 at Dodger Stadium. Harper turned his back to the field to chase an A.J. Ellis fly ball but went face-first into the wall, suffering abrasions on his face and a jammed left shoulder. This was during a game the Nationals were comfortably winning 6-0 in the sixth inning. At the time, the Nationals were 95 percent favorites to win the game, according to FanGraphs. Is the risk of suffering an injury — which could keep Harper out only a game or two, or cause him to miss the rest of the season — worth potentially turning a double or triple into an out?

Famously, Philadelphia fans and talking heads got on outfielder Bobby Abreu’s case in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s because he appeared gun-shy when approaching the outfield fence on fly balls. He was under a lot of pressure to sacrifice his body for the supposed good of the team, and developed a reputation as “soft”. As a more recent example, former Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins caught flack from fans when he didn’t run out a routine pop-up against the Mets on August 30, 2012. Then-manager Charlie Manuel benched the veteran. At the time, the Phillies were 62-69 and 17.5 games back of first place in the NL East and 8.5 games behind the second Wild Card. Freak injuries can happen, as Rollins’ teammate Ryan Howard showed when making the final out of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals. Is that non-zero injury risk worth the tiny chance that the infielder drops the pop-up and Rollins gets a single (or, in rarer cases, a double) in a game that is essentially meaningless?

The aforementioned study shows that maybe Abreu and Rollins had it right after all. Statistically, a freak injury that occurs on a “hustle” play is bound to happen. Maybe that’s what it will take to stop expecting athletes to put their bodies on the line for no realistic gain.

Zach Britton settles with the Orioles for $6.75 million

Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton delivers a pitch against the Boston Red Sox in the ninth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, Tuesday, June 23, 2015, in Boston. The Orioles won 6-4. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
AP Photo/Steven Senne
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The Orioles and closer Zach Britton avoided an arbitration hearing, agreeing to a $6.75 million salary for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman reports. The club has now handled all of its remaining arbitration cases and won’t have to go to a hearing with any players.

Britton, in his second of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $7.9 million while the Orioles countered at $5.6 million. $6.75 million is exactly the midpoint between the two submitted figures.

The 28-year-old lefty saved 36 games in 40 chances last season for the O’s while putting up a 1.92 ERA with a 79/14 K/BB ratio over 65 2/3 innings.