And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Why do we need an All-Star break? I’m not even tired . . .

Tigers 10, Indians 1:
I listened to this game on the radio while painting the railing and
trim around my front porch with my old man. My dad is great, if for no
other reason than he’ll help me paint my porch, but he’s never been a
big baseball fan. It took a couple of innings before he realized that
it was a Tigers game, and when he did, he said “you can pick up WJR
here?” I explained to him that it was the Tribe’s broadcast and that
even if it wasn’t, WJR doesn’t carry the Tigers anymore. “Ah.” We
painted on. A few minutes later: “Harwell doesn’t do Tigers games
anymore.” I think it was a statement and not a question, but I wasn’t
completely sure. “No,” I said, “he’s been retired for a few years now.
He’s still sharp — did an inning or two at the World Series a couple
of years ago, I think — but he’s done.” We painted on, enjoying the
game. “George Kell’s dead.” This one I know was a statement because he
told me about it when he heard it on the news a few months back. I
didn’t have much of a response beyond “yep.” We painted on. Brandon
Inge hit his second home run in the 5th and my dad, who I’m certain
hasn’t paid any attention to baseball since the mid 80s, said “Man, the
Indians are terrible.” This was definitely a statement, and I quote it
here for truth.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 2:
Between this game and the one above, I’m really missing the old AL East
right now. Hows about trading the Rays to the NL for the Brewers,
realigning back to two divisions and picking two Wild Card teams? It
wouldn’t actually change the playoff picture too much — the Tigers and
Rangers would be in a mad dash for the second Wild Card slot right now
— but it would restore the aesthetics of it all. As for this game,
Brad Bergesen continues his solid ways, leading a team that seems to be
trending up past a team that is clearly trending down as the season
progresses. Oh, and plate umpire Ron Kulpa suffered a mild concussion
after being smacked in the mask by a foul ball. They finished the game
with three umps. I wish they would have moved the third base ump to the
mound like they did when I played eight year-old minor league or
whatever it was.

Cubs 7, Cardinals 3:
Zambrano hits a home run and pitches six decent innings to win the
game. Phil Rogers demands that he be waived. Kyle Lohse made his first
start in over a month, but it didn’t go too well. To make room for him,
the Cardinals optioned reliever Blake Hawksworth to Memphis. “Blake
Hawksworth?” That doesn’t sound like a ballplayer. It sounds like a
guest character from a four-episode arc of “Dynasty” or the male lead
in some bodice-ripping romance novel or something. From the back cover:
“Cattle baron Blake Hawksworth is used to getting his way. So he is
baffled when Annie Jones, a feisty little hellion who steps between him
and a bullet in the back, isn’t interested in becoming his latest
plaything. If only he knew that Annie is really the Countess of
Montevarchi — in disguise and on the run! — and that their fledgling
relationship is a scandal-in-the-making!” I know what I’m reading
during the All-Star break!

Cardinals 4, Cubs 2:
Ryan Ludwick: 3-4, 2B, 2 HR, 4 RBI. Albert Pujols hits in front of
Ludwick and went 0-4 with nary a walk. I think he did it on purpose to
show Ludwick how it feels to have absolutely no help around him in the
lineup. I may be letting my Pujols man-crush cloud my reasoning on
this, however.

Red Sox 6, Royals 0:
Josh Beckett ties the Royals up in knots (CG SHO 3 H, 7K, 94 pitches)
and wins his 100th game. Jason Bay reached base five times without
registering an official at bat, drawing three walks and getting plunked
twice.

Mets 9, Reds 7:
Francoeur went 2-for-4 with two RBI in the win on Saturday, and then
went 2-5 yesterday. Probably worth noting that he started pretty darn
hot in Atlanta too. In fact, that hot start is the only reason he stuck
around as long as he did. So I guess what I’m saying to my Met-fan
friends out there is this: hope and pray that Francoeur cools off
quickly, because if he doesn’t, Omar won’t non-tender him this winter
as nature intended, and then he’ll be your starting right fielder next
year. Making like $5 million.

Athletics 7, Rays 3:
Andrew Bailey pitches a two-inning save. Now he may not be available
for the All-Star Game on Tuesday! Doesn’t Bob Geren know that this time
it counts? What will Joe Maddon do without a fresh Andrew Bailey? What
if Buehrle, Fuentes, Greinke, Halladay, Hernandez, Jackson, Nathan,
Papelbon, Rivera, and Wakefield get into a jam? What then?!!!!

Phillies 5, Pirates 2:
Not surprisingly, J.A. Happ (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) is a better fit in the
Philly rotation than Chan Ho Park was. Not to take anything away from
Happ, but the list of people who would be better fits in the Philly
rotation than Chan Ho Park is not limited to Mr. Happ. In fact, even if
we limited it to just the H’s the list would quite long, and would
include just about everyone except for Stephen Hawking and Corey Haim.
And I’m not sure about Hawking.

Twins 13, White Sox 7:
Nice day for the Twins, but it’s a negative like this — Joe Mauer,
0-5, 4K — which sticks out the most. In other news, on Saturday night the Twins went throwback with their 1984 jerseys.
I think they should go back to those full time when they move into the
new park next year. They’re simple, clean and classic looking. My only
suggestions are: keep blue caps with the “TC” logo at all times (i.e.
no red) and don’t mess at all with solid blue alternates or anything
else. Keep it white at home and gray — or even be daring and go powder
blue — on the road. The era of the “M” logo and pinstripe should be
over the moment the dome is in Minnesota.

Dodgers 7, Brewers 4:
Orlando Hudson hit two homers and Clayton Kershaw improved to 4-0 with
a 0.76 ERA in his last six starts. Oh, and Manny since his return from
suspension: .308/.400/.654. The Dodgers: 6-3.

Angels 5, Yankees 4:
New York blew four-run leads on Friday and Saturday. They didn’t really
blow this one, they just lost, as John Lackey had one of his better
starts of the year (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER). For those of you keeping score at
home, the Yanks are now 2-4 against the Angels to go with their 0-8
against Boston.

Marlins 8, Diamondbacks 1:
Josh Johnson gets to go to the All-Star Game, but won’t be pitching, as
he put up six and two-thirds quality innings yesterday. From the game
story: “A woman sitting in the second row near the plate was hit in the
face by a Cantu foul ball in the first inning. Her head was wrapped in
bandages and she was carried out on a stretcher.” And I hereby renew my call for additional netting for the seats down by the field.

Astros 5, Nationals 0:
The Nats couldn’t figure out the enigma that is Brian Moehler (6.1 IP,
7 H, 0 ER) and end the first half with a crisp 26-61 record. I’m more
surprised that the Astros are at .500.

Mariners 5, Rangers 3:
A Chris Shelton sighting. Called up to the Mariners on Wednesday, the
former Ranger and Tiger hit a pinch hit RBI single to put the Ms ahead
for good in the seventh.

Rockies 8, Braves 7:
Atlanta led 4-0, 5-1, and 7-3 in this game, but lost because when your
starting pitcher only gives you four innings, your bullpen is going to
get beat up in a place like Coors Field.

Padres 10, Giants 4:
Barry Zito — after throwing the game of his Giants’ career last time
out — pinches off a 4.1 IP, 10 H,9 ER performance against the worst
offense in the league. Wait, make that the worst offense that had been
struggling mightily entering this game, having only score six runs in
the previous four games. Bengie Molina was back in the lineup after
taking two days off to be with his wife for the birth of his daughter,
Jayda, on Saturday. Little Jayda Molina — being a Molina — was signed
by the Marlins, who expect her to compete for the starting catcher’s
job next spring.

Imagining Theo Epstein in politics

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“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”

Or: “When Theo Epstein won World Series championships with the two most championship-starved franchises in baseball history, he got bored, and decided to run for the Senate or something.”

That latter bit is the premise of a Politico piece speculating that the Cubs president could go into politics one day. The story features an interview with former Obama chief strategist David Axlerod, who thinks Theo has what it takes. Mostly what he has is fame, popularity, good looks and money. No idea what his positions on issue are, but that other stuff goes a long way in politics these days.

Bonus: given what we just elected last fall, a guy who once had a little temper tantrum and dressed up in a gorilla suit is just as viable a candidate as anyone.

Another interestingly named player is promoted by the Pirates

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When you promote a player from the minors, the first and foremost consideration is whether or not he can help your ball club. But, assuming that’s taken care of, teams should really, really make it a priority to call up dudes with cool sounding names because it makes life more interesting for the rest of us.

The Pirates are doing that. The other night Dovydas Neverauskas made his big league debut. In addition to being the first Lithuanian born-and-raised player in major league history, it’s a solid, solid name. Now the Pirates are making another promotion: Gift Ngoepe.

Yep, Gift Ngoepe. He’s an infielder from South Africa, making the leap to the bigs due to David Freese‘s hamstring injury. Ngoepe, 27, was batting just .241/.308/.379 through 66 plate appearances this season with Triple-A Indianapolis, his ninth in the minors, so he’s not exactly a prospect. But man, that’s a killer name.

It’s also worth mentioning that Gift and Neverauskas were arrested together in a bar fight last August in Toledo, so there is already a good basis for some bonding here.

Good luck, Gift. Gift Ngoepe. Mr. Ngoepe. G-Ngo. Man, I could do this all day.