And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Bronson Arroyo.jpgPadres 3, Reds 2: If the recaps suffer a bit today it’s because I was at a bar saying goodbye to a good friend last night (a friend longtime ShysterBall readers will remember, actually). Mark and I used to work at the same law firm together, and once I left at the end of last year he apparently couldn’t go on anymore either, so he issued his resignation and is now moving down to Florida to, hell, I dunno, eat seafood and play shuffleboard and stuff. We had beers last night to celebrate. On the TV over the bar was Mark’s first love — the Redlegs, as he calls them. The sound was down, but that didn’t matter, as Mark did his spot-on Jeff Brantley impersonation all night, going on about Ted DiBiase, UDF ice cream, the Civil War, and whatever else sounded funny in Brantley’s drawl. Only time he broke character was to yell at Dusty Baker for leaving Arroyo in to start the seventh (“quit while you’re ahead, man! He’s gonna explode!”). As soon as he got done yelling Tony Gwynn hit that triple, and Mark yelled some more as Dusty made Arroyo issue an intentional walk and then leave the game. I’m going to miss that guy when he’s gone, and I don’t mean Arroyo.

Rays 6, Yankees 2: The rumor yesterday was that if the Rays dropped all three to the Yankees, Scott Kazmir could be shipped out. That’s kind of a dumb rumor inasmuch as the Rays’ management is a lot smarter than to make decisions based on the outcome of three piddling games. And besides, season stats notwithstanding, Kazmir is still good, as he showed last night, giving up a single run in seven innings. In contrast, CC Sabathia continued his “meh” season with another “meh” performance (5.2 IP, 9 H, 6 R). More bad news: the Yankees learned that Chien-Ming Wang will undergo season-ending arthroscopic surgery. Girardi: “Hopefully this is will be the end of the surgeries for him and he’ll have the rest of his career be real healthy.” Yeah, because that’s how it always works.

Nationals 8, Brewers 3: Memo to Milwaukee: a visit from the Nationals is supposed to be a cure-all, not a nightmare. The Brewers were bombed for the second straight night, this time from Nyjer Morgan, Adam Dunn and Cristian Guzman. Dunn’s was a moon-shot, bouncing over the Toyota Tundra and clear the hell out of Miller Park.

Twins 5, White Sox 3: Mark Buehrle followed up his perfecto with perfection through five innings, but then ran into a buzz saw, giving up five runs on five hits in six and a third. With the win, the Twins — who never, ever seem to go away — pull into a tie for second in the Central.

Mets 4, Rockies 0: Drama shmama, the Mets don’t care what’s happening in the front office or in the tabloids, they’ve won four in a row. Mike Pelfrey, who was given up for dead a week ago, pitched shutout baseball into the seventh and the hitters singled and sacrificed their way past Jason Marquis, denying him his 13th win of the year.

Marlins 4, Braves 3: The Braves’ two-headed closer system has worked pretty well all year, but you’re going to have nights when your guy — in this case Rafael Soriano — is going to have wonky control and not get the calls. When that happens, guys wait to tee off on the get-me-over pitches, and that’s what Ross Gload did to end the game.

Rangers 7, Tigers 3: A two-run triple and a sacrifice from Ian Kinsler chased Luke French (really? “Luke French?” I think that name was on my fake I.D. senior year of high school) and led the Rangers to their eighth win in nine games. Kinsler had to leave with a hamstring problem after six innings, but by then the damage was done. Both to the Tigers and his hamstring.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: It’s funny to think that, for about a decade there, this was a the natural preseason prediction for the ALCS matchup. This one ended in the 11th when the Royals manufactured a run on a dribbler single, a stolen base and an RBI single. The dribbler came from Mark Teahen, who topped the ball down the first-base line, which Matt Wieters watched and hoped would roll foul. I can only assume that Lex Luthor had the bottled city of Kandor held hostage at the time, and Wieters was thus coerced into not using his telekinetic powers to will the ball foul or something.

Man, weren’t those Wieters jokes a lot funnier back in April?



Athletics 9, Red Sox 8: Things that don’t happen every day: (1) Jonathan Papelbon blows a save, let alone one of the three-run lead variety; (2) The A’s score nine runs; (3) The A’s get 21 hits; (4) The A’s win. Twenty-one hits! From the A’s! In other news, walking trade chit Clay Buchholz was again largely inefficient, throwing 107 pitches in less than six innings. One wonders if the Sox couldn’t have left him in the minors where he still looked alluring to would-be trade partners rather than expose him so blatantly in the Majors. Not that it’s important, but I recall thinking the same thing when the Madonna Penthouse issue came out back in 1985.

Astros 11, Cubs 6: The ‘Stros lost Roy Oswalt to a back injury, but beat up Ryan Dempster and the back end of the Cubbies’ bullpen to win it. In the fifth inning, Fukudome hit a ball to Astros’ pitcher Jeff Fulchino. The ball bounced inside Fulchino’s jersey and he wasn’t able to find it in time, allowing Fukudome to reach. Then the gang put on a show, with Mike Fontenot performing an off-key rendition of “The Barber of Seville” while Derek Lee and Aramis Ramirez fed red hots to a mule, which rampaged through Miss Crabtree’s classroom. Or maybe I daydreamed that.

Angels 7, Indians 6: What? The Angels came from behind to win another game? That’s unpossible! Of course they almost didn’t hold on in this one because their closer, Brian Fuentes, can’t seem to get anyone out these days (0 IP, 2H, 2 R, 2 BB). Before Monday, he hadn’t given up a run since the end of May. Now it two days he’s given up six runs and hasn’t retired a batter.

Cardinals 10, Dodgers 0: They scored ten, but only needed one, because Adam Wainwright was on (8 IP, 8 H, 0 ER). Three losses in a row for L.A.. The game was delayed an hour and a half at the outset due to a threat of rain which never materialized. I can’t recall that happening any time recently. Unless it’s raining you go out and play, don’t you? It’s a rain delay, not a threat of rain delay, right?

Mariners 4, Blue Jays 3: Ichiro with the game-winning hit in the ninth. Talk in the game story of him intentionally flailing at a curve ball right before his hit so as to trick Scott Downs into throwing him another curveball. Um, OK, but if he had that all planned it meant he knew what was coming before the first curveball, and why didn’t he just hit that one? Guess that’s not as good a story. In other news, if Jarrod Washburn is getting traded, he’s leaving Seattle on a high note (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER). Finally, the game story says it’s supposed to be 100 degrees in Seattle today and they have a day game. That’s interesting in a schadenfreude-tastic kind of way (Midwest summers make one jealous of those in the Pacific northwest), but why does that matter for the game? They still got a roof on that ballpark, don’t they?

Phillies 4, Diamondbacks 3: Cole Hamels was dominant, giving up an early home run and then nothin’ else for the rest of the game (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K). “Hamels is getting there,” Philadelphia manager Charlie Manuel said. “He’s real close.” Close? Jesus, I’d hate to see him once he actually arrives.

Giants 3, Pirates 2: Barry Zito is like a box of chocolates. A lucky box of chocolates at any rate, giving up only one run despite allowing nine hits in less than six innings. The Ryan Garko Era officially begins in San Francisco with an 0-4. Oh, and the Big Unit has learned that he has a torn rotator cuff. He’s on the 60 day DL retroactive to July 5th, and there’s a distinct possibility that he won’t be back at all this year. Which, one doesn’t have to be a genius to surmise, could mean that we’ve seen the last of perhaps the greatest lefthander in the history of baseball.

Dee Gordon apologizes, is reinstated from PED suspension

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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The Miami Marlins have reinstated second baseman Dee Gordon from his suspension.

Gordon, of course, has missed the last 80 games while serving his drug suspension. He’s coming off a minor league rehab assignment and will be the everyday second baseman for the contending Marlins. He was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances when he was popped. He was replaced by Derek Dietrich, who hit a nice .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA in Gordon’s absence, so don’t expect a tremendous upgrade at second down the stretch, even if they get a nice upgrade in the utility and depth department.

To make room for Gordon, the Marlins designated utilityman and sometimes hero Don Kelly for assignment. Sad jams.

UPDATE: Gordon issued a video apology on the eve of his reinstatement:

Chris Sale called “a competitor” for stuff that gets most guys called “head cases”

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Chris Sale has had an eventful week.

On Saturday he was scratched from his start and subsequently suspended for five games for cutting up the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear, making them unusable. That cost the team over $12,000 and cost the Sox their best pitcher hours before game time.

On Monday Sale gave an interview to Scott Merkin in which he apologized to fans and teammates and explained his rationale for the uniform shredding. Even if his act was over the top, there was a core of understandable motivation at least: Sale said he voiced his displeasure with the untucked jersey months ago and asked to not pitch on a night they’d have to wear them because he believed it would mess with his mechanics and/or mental state. The Sox didn’t heed his request and Sale took issue, as many probably would, with what he felt was the business of throwback jerseys taking precedence over on-the-field stuff.

Of course, there are still some pretty big problems here. Mostly having to do with the facts that (a) the Sox have people on staff who could’ve optimized his jersey any way he needed it to be optimized if he had asked; (b) ballplayers have been wearing throwbacks for a long time now and, even if they don’t like them, they tend to endure them; and (c) he’s a ballplayer who needs to suck things up sometimes like every single ballplayer ever has done. There are a ton of things ballplayers are expected to do which are insisted upon by the business folks. It’s part of the gig.

A little more seriously than that is the fact that Sale pretty publicly threw his manager, Robin Ventura, under the bus :

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

An undercurrent to all of this is Sale being fairly obvious in voicing his desire to be traded.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about Sale’s week. It’s sourced largely by Sale’s friend Adam Eaton who defends Sale as a passionate competitor who just wants to win and how all of this stuff of the past week was about his desire to do so. The headline of the story buys in to all of that:

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We heard much the same along these lines when Sale blasted Sox brass following the Drake LaRoche stuff during spring training, going on an expletive-filled rant in a meeting behind closed doors but then bringing the same noise, albeit cleaned up, in front of reporters after it all became public.

Chris Sale is who he is, of course, and I’m not going to too harshly judge who he is. He’s an amazing pitcher and, as most athletes will tell you, the mental part of the game is almost as important or, maybe, even more important than the physical part. Asking Sale to be who he isn’t would probably be counterproductive in the long term.

But I am fascinated with the way in which someone who has behaved like Sale has behaved is described. He’s a “competitor” whose objectively disruptive and literally destructive behavior is explained away as merely a function of his desire to win. His friends on the team, like Eaton, are sought out for damage control and spin and his detractors, which there are likely some, aren’t quoted, even anonymously. He has publicly called out his manager as not wanting to win as much as he wants to please his bosses and he has likewise called out his manager’s bosses and has welcomed a trade, yet we aren’t seeing stories about how that’s a bad thing for the Sox’ clubhouse.

I don’t much care for that sort of stuff, actually, as I suspect most clubhouse controversy stories are somewhat overblown and overly dramatized. But those stories have been go-to tropes of sports writers for decades, and I am trying to imagine this sort of story about players who aren’t Chris Sale. Players who don’t have as friendly a relationship with the media as he has or who don’t have clubhouse allies who do. I feel like, most of the time, a story about a guy who who has done the odd things Sale has done both this week and last March would play a hell of a lot differently.

How does this all play of it’s Yordano Ventura? Or Yasiel Puig? Or Jose Fernandez? How does this play if it took place in the NBA and it was Kevin Durant who shredded up a bunch of short-shorts on 80s throwback night? How does it play if it’s Cam Newton?

I bet it plays differently.