And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Red Sox 7, Tigers 5: You’ve probably seen the Youkilis-Porcello fracas, but here’s video of it from a slightly different angle
which makes Youkilis seem like even more of the bad guy here. Of course
his ejection was the best thing to happen to the Sox last night, as he
was replaced by pinch-runner Mike Lowell, who stayed in the game and
proceeded to hit two homers and drive in three. So yeah, that was all
fun and everything, and it actually worked out for Boston, but can we
all agree that plunkings, retaliation plunkings, retaliation for the
retaliation plunking and all of that is a total drag? It’s the one part
of baseball where Klingon law basically reigns, and I’ll just never get
it. Your guy hits my guy? Who cares? The only reason you’re doing it is
because we’re hitting you hard. That kind of thing doesn’t call for
revenge. It calls for pity.

Indians 5, Rangers 0: Laffey, Smith and Sipp — pitchers, not a
1960s kids show featuring puppets — combine to shutout the Rangers.
The Indians did all of their damage in the third via one of those death
by a thousand cuts kinds of innings:
single-single-HBP-walk-single-double, eventually followed by a
sacrifice fly.

Braves 8, Nationals 1: Tommy Hanson (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 9K) puts
a stop to the uppity Nats. Every Braves regular had a hit. Leadoff
hitter Ryan Church reached base in four of his five plate appearances.
Sure, he doesn’t get big feature stories like the guy he was traded for
does, but I don’t think anyone cares.

Orioles 3, Athletics 2: Brian Roberts had three hits, an RBI and
two stolen bases as the Os get a rare win over the A’s. Wait. Why does
the apostrophe look right on the “A’s” but not the “Os?” I’d think that
the apostrophe would be improper in both instances given that they’re
abbreviations of plurals as opposed to possessives, but everyone writes
“A’s” don’t they? Did Oakland ever formally change their nickname? When
I was growing up they were almost always referred to as the A’s, but in
recent years you hardly ever see that anymore. Maybe “A’s” was just the
proper noun, apostrophe and all, now it’s not, and we’re just dealing
with vestigial punctuation? Man, what I wouldn’t give to have a
linguistic anthropologist handy right now. Short of that, I’ll settle
for APBA Guy. Got any insight here, dude?

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 5: Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada hit back-to-back homers leading off the eighth inning to give the Yanks the lead (where have we heard that before?).
There was a moment of silence before the game for Merlyn Mantle, the
widow of Mickey Mantle, who died Monday. There, my friends, was a woman
of serious freakin’ strength, because God love him, but Mickey Mantle
would have driven most women to their graves about 40 years before Mrs.
M. was finally put to rest in hers.

Marlins 9, Astros 8: Game story: “Just before the bottom of the
11th inning, Cody Ross turned to teammate Dan Uggla on the bench and
gave him a few choice words. “This is the inning,” Ross said he told
him. “I feel it. I usually don’t say stuff like that.” Of course the
bases were loaded at the time, so the odds were decidedly in his favor.
Nice game-winning single by Uggla, but I’m not going to give Ross “I
see dead people” kind of credit.

Padres 13, Brewers 6: Adrian Gonzalez went 6 for 6 and the Padres had 22 hits in all off of Braden Looper and six other Brewer pitchers.

Phillies 4, Cubs 3: Brad Lidge blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth, but
Ben Francisco homer in the 12th got him off the hook. Lidge certainly
ain’t right, though. How about this: Jamie Moyer, closer. Or would he complain about that too?

Reds 5, Cardinals 4: Coming off a shutout, Justin Lehr pitches
well again, although this time in much better luck, giving up only one
run in six innings despite allowing 11 hits and only striking out one
dude. Which is why I hate the first sentence of the AP game story:
“Apparently, Justin Lehr is no fluke.” Isn’t he? He’s a 32 year-old
journeyman who isn’t allowing any runs despite not striking anyone out
and has allowed 19 hits and 8 walks in 20 innings. Great results that
still count and everything, but that’s pretty much a textbook example
of fluky.


Royals 14, Twins 6: Demoting a knuckleballer like the Twins did
with R.A. Dickey last week is the same as breaking a mirror or killing
an albatross while crossing the ocean or something: courting doom. How
else to explain a shellacking at the hands of the usually punchless
Royals? Miguel Olivo homered and drove in three runs. The Twins have
lost five of six and eight of 10, and they’re getting beat up at home
on a pretty regular basis.

Pirates 7, Rockies 3: Ugly game for the Rockies, as they walk a
bunch of dudes, commit a bunch of errors, and make the Pirates look
like a good team in the process. Andrew McCutchen stole three bases.

Angels 6, Rays 0: Yesterday I read this story
entitled “The Mighty Fall of Angels Pitcher Ervin Santana.” Ervin
Santana apparently didn’t read it (CG SHO 3 H). David Price didn’t
allow a hit until the fifth, and then the wheels just came off (6 IP, 8
H, 6 ER).

Diamondbacks 6, Mets 2: I think it’s safe to say that we’ve
entered the “playing out the string” portion of the season for New
York. Trent Oeltjen had four more hits, with a triple, a double and a
couple of singles. Crikey.

White Sox 3, Mariners 1: Janks (8 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 8K) and Denks
(23rd save in a perfect ninth) more or less shut down Seattle, but if
it wasn’t for an Alexei Ramirez three-run homer in the ninth, it would
have been in vain. Well, I suppose it could have been a two-run homer.

Dodgers 9, Giants 1: Remember that thing I said on Monday
morning about there maybe being a race on in the NL West? Eh, forget
it. Manny hit a two-run homer, had an RBI double and, working off of
the general “treat Manny like Barry Bonds” vibe, was intentionally
walked twice. Randy Wolf allowed one run and three hits in eight
innings, retiring 16 of his final 19 batters. This allowed Giants fans
to leave early, obviating the need to rush to get to the Larkspur Ferry.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely: