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.

Dusty Baker calls the Nationals “a baby making team.” Whatever that means.

PHILADELPHIA, PA - AUGUST 31: Manager Dusty Baker #12 of the Washington Nationals looks on before the start of a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on August 31, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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When the Nationals fired Matt Williams a year ago, it might’ve been a safe assumption that they were going to go with that new breed of young, handsome recently-retired player-turned-manager who, despite a lack of experience, allegedly knows how to deal with modern players better and knows how to handle a clubhouse. Those assumptions have proved largely off with these guys — Williams was a disaster, Matheny wins despite himself and Ausmus looks like he’s perpetually on the verge of a breakdown — but that’s the all the rage these days anyway.

Instead, the Nats hired Dusty Baker. Though Baker had tremendous success as a manager everywhere he went, he was maligned by some for some pitcher handling stuff in Chicago (which said pitchers have long denied was an issue, but let’s let that lie). He was also, more generally, thought of as a “retread.” Which is what people who prefer younger folks for jobs tend to call older people, even if the older people know what they’re doing.

And yes, I will cop to thinking about managers that way a lot over the years, so I’m not absolving myself at all here, even if I was pretty OK with the Dusty Baker hiring. I’ve evolved on this point. In no small part because of how Dusty Baker has done in Washington. Flash forward a year, the Nats are division champions and Baker may be a top candidate for Manager of the Year. That, in and of itself, should show you how wrong the haters were.

But if it doesn’t, this sure should:

I have no earthly idea what that means and Castillo gives no further context. All I know is that it sounds cool as hell and of any current manager, only Dusty Baker could say that and pull it off.

Because he’s Dusty Baker and has nothing to prove to you. And if you don’t like it, shoot, he’ll just go back home to his winery or whatever and live out the rest of his days being cooler than you.

Who should win the manager of the year awards? Who Will?

PHOENIX, AZ - JULY 15:  Manager Dave Roberts #30 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dougout during the seventh inning of a MLB game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on July 15, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year Award is pretty dumb. Numbers aren’t everything in any award, but there are literally zero numbers that gauge a manager’s effectiveness or performance apart from wins and losses and wins and losses are mostly a function of talent on the roster, for which the manager is not responsible. This is not to say managers aren’t important. Of course they are! They make important decisions every day and keep the clubhouse running smoothly and that’s important. It just so happens to be unquantifiable and subject to anecdote and projection.

For instance, Matt Williams won the Manager of the Year Award with he Nationals in 2014. He was run out of town on a rail in 2015. Did he suddenly forget how to manage? Or did he never really know but was blessed with good fortune and better players the year before?

Joe Maddon won the award last year, in large part because the Cubs outperformed expectations. This year the Cubs are the best team around. But everyone expected them to be because of all that talent! Does that mean that Maddon’s 2015 award was fraudulent? The product of poor expectations assessment on behalf of the media? At the same time, there’s a pretty strong vibe that he won’t win it this year, so are we to say that winning between 101 and 104 games is . . . a worse job than last year? Don’t even get me started on arguments that Bruce Bochy somehow became a lesser manager this year, because I suspect — and bear with me on this — something else is going on with the Giants.

Manager of the Year has always been about narratives and expectations of people on the outside looking in who nonetheless purport to know how the manager performed his job in the most inside baseball kinds of ways. It’s poppycock. It may as well be the Golden Globes.

So, rather than just break it down the way we did the other awards, let’s just thrown this out like the big mess that it is:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Bill and Ashley say that Terry Francona should be the American League Manager of the Year. Bill’s reasoning: “The Indians went essentially the whole year without Michael Brantley and their pitching staff imploded in September. Francona deserves a lot of credit for holding the team together.”

Hey, works for me too! Let’s give it to Tito. Even if we can tell a compelling story about John Farrell and the Red Sox and even if Jeff Banister, the reigning AL Manager of the Year, improved by anywhere from 6-9 games in the standings this year over last in a division most people thought the Astros would win.

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Bill says Dusty Baker, arguing that “The Nationals had all kinds of bullpen issues and Stephen Strasburg wasn’t able to pitch the final two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker.”

Ashley says Dave Roberts. She didn’t give me her reasoning, but I bet she’d agree with me if I said “The Nationals Dodgers had all kinds of bullpen rotation issues and Stephen Strasburg Clayton Kershaw wasn’t able to pitch for two months of the season. They could’ve easily folded but they didn’t, and I think that’s a reflection on Baker Roberts.” You could throw in some stuff about how Yasiel Puig was managed by Roberts (i.e. better, though his come-to-Jesus demotion may have been the front office’s doing). I think I’ll go with Roberts, simply because I feel like it’d be bad precedent to give it to a Nationals manager every even numbered year simply because that dang franchise is inconsistent.

What about the Cubs? Here’s Bill again:

I considered Joe Maddon of the Cubs, but the team was so good I think the Cubs could’ve had a kitten manage the team to a playoff berth.

I say we give it to a kitten. Kittens are the best.