And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Smoltz.jpgYankees 13, Red Sox 6: Lord, deliver us from Red Sox-Yankees
baseball, because this game was positively interminable. Bob has the details here. And while
we’re petitioning the Lord here, let us ask Him to prevail upon one
John Smoltz (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 ER) to hang up his spikes, because this is
just way too painful for a fan of 22 years to witness. And what’s with
you, Joba? What happened to that fast-working, strike-throwing ace we
saw four or five days ago? Seven walks? 108 pitches in five innings? Is
there some NESN/YES deal in place none of us are aware of that pays
everyone by the hour?

Phillies 3, Rockies 1: I can’t tell you how thrilled we NL East
fans are that the Phillies got Cliff Lee. Truly, we’re so, so happy for
Philadelphia. The figurative cherry on top of our giant ice cream
sundae of misery went seven innings, giving up one run and striking out
nine.

Angels 9, White Sox 5: Jon Danks gave up seven runs on nine hits
and three walks in 6 1/3 innings. “I got my butt kicked, that’s all you
can say.” Well in that case, let’s move on.

Rangers 6, Athletics 4: I gotta start reading more prospect
books and stuff in the spring. Even though I’ve noted Tommy Hunter’s
existence this season — even wrote about him once — I see “T. Hunter”
in the box score and my first thought is “When did Torii Hunter get
traded to Texas and why is he pitching?” My second thought is “I wonder
if Tab Hunter is still alive?” He was in “Damn Yankees,” you know, so
there’s a baseball connection. So I went and checked Wikipedia. Yep,
still kickin’ at 78. And though I knew Tab Hunter and Tony Perkins were
both gay, I had no idea that they were a thing for a while. Too bad it
didn’t work out for those two. Tony Perkins played Jimmy Piersall once,
you know. Basically everything’s about baseball. Oh, Tommy/Torii/Tab
pitched well (7 P, 3 H, 2 ER).

Nationals 12, Marlins 8: The Fish blow a 6-0 lead and wind up
getting slaughtered — and swept — by Washington. Ryan Zimmerman
walked, hit two singles, a triple, a homer and had three RBIs. Elijah
Dukes was 3-4 with four RBI.

Tigers 7, Orioles 3: Alex Avila — the son of the Tigers’
assistant GM — made his major league debut and hit a two-out RBI
double in the third inning. The only thing worse than working with the
boss’ kid is when the boss’ kid actually knows what he’s doing so you
can’t claim to have been given the shaft. Game story: “Porcello (10-7)
became just the second pitcher in franchise history with double digits
in wins at the age of 20 or younger, joining Dave Rozema, who had 11
victories before his 21st birthday.” Of course Rozema never won double digits again after his 15-win, 16-CG, age-20 season in 1977. Thanks, Ralph Houk!

Indians 2, Twins 1: That’s three earned runs in 11 innings
pitched since returning to the bigs for Fausto Carmona. That’s
deceiving, though, because he’s only struck out three guys, walked
seven and has given up ten hits in those innings. Oh, and his season
ERA is now at 6.66, so like that whole Satan/Goethe/Faust/Fausto
thing that everyone always talks about is just underscored now. Wait,
you mean I’m the only one who brings that up? Moving right along . . .
If I were a betting man, I’d bet that 2007 was just one of those
magical one-off years for Carmona, and that he’ll never touch that
level again. How many personnel decisions did Mark Shapiro make based
on the opposite assumption?

Dodgers 5, Braves 4: Three-run walkoff homer for Andre Ethier. I didn’t see it, so let’s hear from tHeMARksMiTh, who did:

It was signed, sealed, and delivered with Soriano coming in
for the ninth, and though it was only a two-run lead, it felt like it
was five. But he just didn’t have his command, and two pitches before
Ethier hit that home run I said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with
Soriano tonight, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”

God damn it that one hurt.
 

Royals 8, Mariners 2: Bruce Chen wins the “scattered” award for the night, by allowing ten hits in 6.2 innings yet only giving up two runs.

Diamondbacks 11, Pirates 6: Wow, when the Pirates lose in extra
innings, they lose big. Even Dan Haren had an RBI in the 12th., and he
thought he had the night off. Pirate reliever Steven Jackson gave up
five runs on four hits in 12th, and was demoted to Triple-A
Indianapolis right after the game.

Padres 8, Mets 3: New York has lost six in a row in Petco Park.
Strange place to be having trouble. The Padres extended Bud Black’s
contract through 2010 after the game.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.