And That Happened: Sunday's scores and highlights

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Hello all. I’m pinch-hitting for Craig as he works on perfecting his Perry Mason imitation. Go easy on me. I can’t even imitate Rusty Hardin.

Dodgers 9, Braves 1: Chad Billingsley struck out nine in five innings, but Joe Torre sat him down after the pitcher came down with a cramp in his hamstring. Billingsley’s knee appeared to buckle as he followed through on a pitch in the fifth inning, but the right-hander said “I always do it. That’s nothing new.”

Rangers 4, Mariners 2: Ian Snell was solid in Seattle debut (6 innings, 3 hits, two runs), but the Rangers continued to play home run derby (Young, Murphy, Saltalamacchia), taking three of four in series. Mariners fans will probably prefer the headline on this story.

Marlins 3, Cubs 2: Dan Uggla hit a home run in the ninth that might still be circling the Earth. Cody Ross followed with his second of the game — on the very next pitch — to give the Marlins a dramatic win. It was Kevin Gregg’s second blown save in as many days and his fifth in 26 chances this season. Don’t look now, but the Marlins are five game behind the Phillies.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 2: Jays starter Ricky Romero discovered that when you’re facing the A’s, all you have to do is throw your fastball across the plate and you’ll be OK. A’s starter Vin Mazzaro discovered that it’s not the same when facing the Blue Jays. Aaron Hill proves it with two-run home run.

Giants 7, Phillies 3: San Francisco finished off a 6-1 homestand as Freddy Sanchez – one of 10 ex-Pirates enjoying their recent call-ups to the actual majors – comes up with two hits and two RBIs in his Giants debut. Also, Barry Zito pitches like its 2002.

Brewers 6, Padres 1: Trevor Hoffman faced his old team in a surreal setting, closing out a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation. Interestingly, it was not the first time he had faced the Padres (twice in 1993 when with the Marlins). Furthering the Padres’ misery, pitcher Kevin Correia hit into a double play after faking a bunt with runners on first and second and nobody out in the fifth inning.

Astros 2, Cardinals 0: Bud Norris dominated the Cardinals in his first major league start, allowing just two hits in seven sharp innings and giving our own D.J. Short great joy. Norris actually carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright led off with a single. Tony La Russa admitted after the game that Albert Pujols is “in a funk.”

Angels 13, Twins 4: Who needs Torii Hunter and Vladimir Guerrero? Kendry Morales hit a pair of three-run home runs and drove in a career-high six RBIs in the destruction of the Twins. The Halos have won 13 of 15 and now have the best record (63-40) in the AL. Said Twins outfielder Denard Span: “Thank God they’re getting out of here. The last two days, they were just pretty much stealing our lunch money, kicking our butts.”

Yankees 8, White Sox 5: Melky Cabrera became the first Yankee to hit for the cycle since – you guessed it – Tony Fernandez in 1995. The expected pitcher’s duel between CC Sabathia and Mark Buerhle becomes a slugfest.

Royals 4, Rays 1: James Shields carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, but then the Rays do their best Royals imitation, giving away the victory. Tropicana Field now has gone 940 regular season games without witnessing a no-hitter. Or the warm Florida sun.

Red Sox 18, Orioles 10: Putting Victor Martinez at catcher in place of Jason Varitek proves advantageous to the Patriots – err Red Sox, as Boston’s new slugger goes 5-for-6. Red Sox have won four straight and are ½ game behind the Yankees. The Orioles are just happy their not the Nats.

Indians 11, Tigers 1: Carl Pavano pitched eight sharp innings in a rout of the Tigers. “The key was keeping the ball in the park,” he said. I’m guessing a lot of Yankees fans wished he had figured that out a long time ago.

Diamondbacks 5, Mets 2: Chad Tracy robbed Gary Sheffield of a “scud missile” during a key moment in the fifth inning, sparking Jon Garland in a complete game victory. But don’t worry Mets fans, help is on the way. Nelson Figueroa will be activated on Monday to start against Dan Haren. Seems like a fair fight.

Rockies 6, Reds 4, 11 inn.: Dexter Fowler won the game with a two-out RBI triple in the 11th. It was the fourth straight win for the Rockies, who remain tied for the NL wild card lead. In just his second game for Cincinnati since being traded from Toronto on Friday, Scott Rolen was hit in the helmet with a pitch. He didn’t sound badly hurt, saying “It stunned me, but I could still cuss.”

Nationals 5, Pirates 3: Had to save the best for last, of course. The highlight of the game? Had to be when Nats pitcher Sean Burnett was booed upon entering the game. He was the one who had the nerve to call the Pirates the “laughingstock of baseball.”

Burnett said he’d never been booed before, which seems unlikely.

 

 

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.