And That Happened: Sunday's scores and recaps

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Pirates 6, Tigers 3:
The Pirates ain’t the walkingest team you’re ever going to see — in
fact they’re one of the worst — so it’s not like Dontrelle Willis was
simply outworked by the opposition in giving up eight walks in three
and two-thirds. Pittsburgh Penguin forward Bill Guerin threw out the
first pitch and had better command than Dontrelle did. The Tigers are
three up on Minnesota in the Central. That’s great, but they don’t have
any room to experiment with Willis any longer. He simply can’t be
allowed to pitch for this team any more this season. In other news, the
1909 throwback uniforms these guys wore were sweet as hell.

Yankees 15, Mets 0:
Johan Santana was terrible. His fastball was at 89-90, and he couldn’t
locate anything anywhere close to where he wanted it. Jerry Manuel
continued to impress too. When David Wright was livid over a called
third-strike in the sixth, it took Manuel a minute to get out there,
and when he finally did, it seemed like he was arguing out of a sense
of obligation as opposed to passion or pique. How he got ejected during
such a low-wattage argument I’ll never know, but I’d like to think he
pulled one of those “Psst — throw me out. Really, I need to be run in
this game or I’m going to lose my team. C’mon, do me a solid, OK?”
things.

Orioles 11, Braves 2:
Brad Bergesen has only given up six runs in his last 32 innings. Not
that he needed to be that good against the Braves on Sunday, as Ty
Wigginton hit two home runs and Robert Andino drove in three runs and
freakin’ stole home. The steal was on a botched rundown play so it was
not some feat of derring-do. That botch caused Bobby Cox to pull Yunel
Escobar from the game. I can’t recall Jeff Francoeur ever getting
pulled out of a game for doing something stupid (and it’s certainly not
for a lack of opportunity) so why Escobar had to go I have no idea. I
can only guess that Francoeur has Bobby Cox’s grandchildren locked in a
tower someplace and vows not to release them unless he’s given 160
starts a year.

Phillies 11, Red Sox 6:
Dustin Pedroia, Jason Varitek, J.D. Drew and David Ortiz all sat, but
this loss isn’t attributable to a lack of bats for Boston. Josh Beckett
just came undone in the seventh, and got no real relief from Daniel
Bard, as everyone except Greg Dobbs smacked the ball around for the
Phillies.

Indians 3, Cardinals 0:
St. Louis must have had an early flight out of Cleveland. Cliff Lee
takes a no-hitter into the eighth — broken up by Molina Unit No.
1249BHG5 — and this one was brought home in a cool one hour,
fifty-eight minutes. Lee finished with a three-hit shutout, getting the
job done on a mere 93 pitches. Oh, and since I mentioned throwback
uniforms above, allow me to offer a few more words on the subject: on
Saturday, Cleveland and St. Louis wore some of the weakest throwbacks
you’ll ever see. Each team was wearing pullovers as opposed to their
usual button-downs, which appeared to come from the mid-to-late 80s.
Except they kind of didn’t. The Indians wore the specific pullover they
sported on Saturday from 1978-1985,
when they switched to a button-down model. Except they never wore the
Wahoo cap like they wore on Saturday during those years; they only had
the block C, meaning that this wasn’t really a throwback as much as it
was a mishmosh. The Cardinals were a little better — their gray road
pullover was actually worn by the club between 1971 and 1975, and again
from 1985-1991. But if they’re going to go with unfashionable 1970s and
80s throwbacks, why not go with the powder blues? Sure, they looked terrible on the Cardinals, but it least it was interesting.

Marlins 11, Blue Jays 3:
Yet another game in which one team scores at least 11 runs. Ronny
Paulino went 4 for 5 with a couple of homers and three RBI and the fish
rapped out 18 hits. Between the sweep and Halladay’s groin, the Jays couldn’t have imagined a worse series than this.

Angels 6, Padres 0: Jered Weaver was fantastic, pitching his first career shutout. Juan Rivera was pretty spiffy himself, hitting two homers.

Dodgers 6, Rangers 3:
For those who care about such things, Andruw Jones went 3-8 with a
couple of homers against the Dodgers over the weekend. Those who don’t
should just know that Chad Billingsley gave up three runs — only two
of them earned — over seven innings to notch his ninth victory on the
season.

Royals 7, Reds 1:
Johnny Cueto’s line shows zero earned runs and five unearned, and the
game story talks about how Jerry Hairston’s errors led to all of that
unearnedage, but the fact remains that after the first inning error,
Cueto still had to give up a run scoring double to Migiel Olivo, and
after the third inning error, Cueto still had to give up a walk, a
triple and a single for those runs to score, so it’s not like he was
totally boned by his defense. Sometimes you gotta suck it up and pitch
through an error or two, and Cueto didn’t necessarily do that.

Giants 7, A’s 1:
San Francisco Sweeps Oakland, allowing only three runs all weekend.
Matt Cain (CG, 4 H, 1 ER, 9K) was impressive: He allowed no hits after
the third inning, and retired 19 of the last 20 he faced. Nate
Schierholtz hit an inside the park home that bounced high off the base
of the wall and forced Jack Cust to wait for it come back down forever.
This is what I was talking about a couple of weeks ago when I said that
triples are more exciting than inside the park homers. Sure, this was
neat, but it was essentially a function of some quirk (i.e. the high
bounce), whereas triples are more often just flat out speed. There was
no play at the plate on Schierholtz here, so really, how exciting could
this really be?

Rays 5, Nats 4: If the rumors are to be believed,
this was Manny Acta’s last game as the Nationals’ manager. Acta didn’t
always get as much out of his teams as he could have, and a change is
probably needed, but it’s not like the manager was the difference
between winning and losing in Washington. Acta is by all accounts a
good guy, so here’s hoping he latches on someplace else quickly and
gets another, better shot to manage again someday.

Rockies 7, Mariners 1:
I guess Colorado isn’t going to lose again. Too bad they dug such a
hole for themselves beforehand, because L.A. is just too far ahead and
there are at least five other teams hanging around Wild Card land.

White Sox 5, Brewers 4: Mark Buehrle hit a home run (and Josh Beckett did in the Sox-Phils game). See, I told you it was fun to watch pitchers bat.

Cubs 3, Twins 2:
Clearly firing hitting coach Gerald Perry is what led to this offensive
outburst on the part of the Cubs. The new hitting coach is named Von
Joshua, which I’m pretty sure was the name of a bad guy in one of the
Lethal Weapon movies.

Astros 8, Diamondbacks 3: My arguments against interleague play are somewhat undercut by the fact that this matchup — the only intralegaue matchup — was by far the least interesting of the entire weekend’s slate. Sometimes it’s hard to be a purist.

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.