And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Royals 3, Tigers 2: A lot of people experience anxiety about
taking a day off work. They check their email a lot, allow themselves
to be preoccupied, and generally feel as though the office can’t get by
without them. This is baloney, of course. The world goes on fine
without you. No one is so damn important that they can’t take a day
off. Well, no one except Brandon Inge. That dude is freakin’ essential,
it seems.

Mets 3, Giants 2: At this point, any game the Mets don’t forfeit
due to a lack of warm bodies has to be considered a victory. This one,
however, was a bona fide win, with Daniel Murphy singling in Jeff
Francoeur to win it in the ninth. After the game, however, all of the
questions were about David Wright. Jerry Manuel: “Nobody wants to ask
me about Murphy’s game-winning hit? You guys are really bad.” Look
Jerry, David Wight is practically the last major league-quality hitter
the Mets had left, so his health is big news. When a couple of
out-machines luck into hits in what will certainly turn out to be a
meaningless game, there’s really nothing that can be said about it
besides some variation of “blind hogs find acorns.” Cut the press boys
some slack.

Cardinals 7, Padres 5: The Cards are as hot as anyone right now,
having won eight of ten and continuing to maintain a five game lead
over the Cubs despite Chicago’s recent spurt. Yadier Molina and Colby
Rasmus were the heroes in the ninth, capping off a come-from-behind win
with an RBI single and a home run, respectively. Actual quote from
Heath Bell after the game: “I was surprised how big it was when I took
my pants off.” Context, my friends, is everything.

Angels 17, Orioles 8: Nothing like a tight extra-innings affair.
The nine runs scored by LAA in the 13th were the most scored in a
single extra inning in 14 years.

Nationals 5, Reds 4: Josh Willingham hit a massive home run,
doubled, had three RBI, and scored the winning run from third on a
heads up play when Drew Sutton lollygagged a throw in from shallow
right in the eighth inning. You know what that makes Sutton, don’t you?

Rays 5, Blue Jays 2: Cast in an unlikely role for which he is usually ill-equipped to act, Gregg “Z-Game” Zaun launched a pinch-hit home run in the eighth to break a 1-1 tie. Approaches the unreal, really.

Rangers 4, Red Sox 3: And the Rangers take the series and the
wild card lead. I presume that this will be reported in most quarters
in terms of Boston’s continuing struggles as opposed to the Rangers
staying hot, because it’s impossible to report on anything in which the
Red Sox are involved without casting them in the lead role.

Marlins 10, Rockies 3, Rockies 7, Marlins 3: The class of 1993 splits a doubleheader as they battle for the NL wild card. The Class of 1993 — San Francisco and Atlanta — follow close behind.

Indians 7, Twins 3: Cleveland scored six in the third inning,
with the first three of those runs coming on eight pitches. The Indians
are playing spoiler. Says Grady Sizemore: “Guys are playing loose and
having fun. We had kind of fallen back and now we’ve got nothing to
lose. So now we can go out there and just relax and play, and sometimes
you get your best baseball when you’re playing that way.” That’s swell,
but this happened to the Indians last year too. Perhaps it means that
Eric Wedge inspires nervous, sloppy, and all around chokey play when it
matters, and can only inspire a relaxed vibe when there is absolutely
nothin’ on the line. Guys like that often become ex-managers.

Astros 8, Brewers 5: Geoff Blum drove in four as the Astros
rallied in the eighth inning to come from behind. In other news, the
Astros box score made my mind wander again — my lord, that team fails
to interest me for some reason — and it wandered into the paintings of
Edward Hopper, who just so happens to be my favorite artist. I go back
and forth (and forth) between Early Sunday Morning, Office at Night, and Automat as my favorites, though there are no small number of his paintings
which stun and enthrall me. Strange to me, though, is the fact that a
guy who lived in New York and spent so much time painting modern
American life in the middle of the 20th century never touched on
baseball. At least not that I know of. Maybe it just didn’t speak to
him. Maybe every game he ever saw struck him like Astros games strike
me.


Athletics 3, White Sox 2: Mark Ellis hits the game-winning home run off of Bobby Jenks in the bottom of the ninth. Oh, and I think these throwbacks looked sweet.
Bob Geren even went all Connie Mack before the game, wearing a suit,
tie and hat to exchange the lineup cards before changing into his
uniform. According to the game story, someone gave him hell from the
stands, however, because Connie Mack wore a straw hat. That, my
friends, is some good, informed heckling.

Mariners 10, Yankees 3: Chamberlain, Aceves and Gaudin do their
part to make Sergio Mitre’s seat in the Yankees’ rotation feel less
hot. Derek Jeter passed Luis Aparicio for the most hits ever by a
shortstop. Omar Vizquel is still playing, however, and is only five
hits behind Jeter. If you think that Omar isn’t sitting in his secret
Antarctic lair, watching dozens of video monitors, stroking an exotic
cat, and contemplating some devious sort of attack on Jeter in order to
incapacitate him and claim the record for himself, well, then you just
don’t know the capacity for evil and cunning that resides inside the
mind of Omar Vizquel.

Philles 4, Braves 1: Atlanta blows a chance to make a real race
out of it in the east by dropping two of three. Looks like it’ll be
more important for fans like me to watch the Marlins, Rockies and
Giants’ scores than the Phillies scores. Two homers for Ryan Howard.
J.A. Happ walks six but gets away with it because the Braves squandered
a couple of chances.

Dodgers 9, Diamondbacks 3: Randy Wolf was 3-4 with a homer and three RBI and struck out ten over 7.2 IP. He’s the Wolf. He solves problems.

Pirates-Cubs: Postponed: It’s really gonna suck for the Pirates
to have to end the season at Cincinnati, jog back up to Chicago to make
this game up, and then head back to Pittsburgh to host Game one of the
division series.

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Astros 9, Diamondbacks 4: The Astros built an 8-0 lead in the first four innings thanks to six extra-base hits and then put it on cruise control. It wasn’t all rosy, though. Astros starter Brad Peacock hit a double that plated a run, but he didn’t do so well in is primary task, failing to get past the fifth inning. Houston won here, but they’ve scuffled of late and still aren’t where they’d like to be once the playoffs start.

Yankees 5, Mets 4: Good news: Sonny Gray allowed two runs over six and got his first win in pinstripes. Bad news: Aroldis Chapman was terrible again, allowing two runs on two hits in his just-barely-a-save and then winced coming off the mound, which later was revealed to be due to a tweaked hamstring. It’s unclear if he’ll miss any time. If he doesn’t, he going to need to figure out how to miss some bats, because he ain’t been doing that lately.

Nationals 3, Angels 1: Gio Gonzalez snaps the Angels’ winning streak at six thanks to six innings of two-hit, shutout ball. He was backed by two Howie Kendrick solo homers. Kendrick has been on fire since coming over from Philly at the deadline. Since the trade he’s hitting .386/.413/.727 with four homers and 11 RBI in 14 games. Nice pickup.

Rays 6, Blue Jays 4Lucas Duda hit a two-run homer and Wilson Ramos added a solo shot to help the Rays end their four-game losing streak and giving them what, for them anyway, is an absolute offensive explosion. Josh Donaldson homered for the third straight game in a losing cause.

Red Sox 10, Cardinals 4: An eight-run fifth inning by the Sox did in the Cards. Xander Bogaerts had three hits and Hanley RamirezSandy Leon and Jackie Bradley Jr. each knocked in two. The play of the game was a defensive one, though, as the Sox turned an around-the-horn triple play:

Boston has won 11 of 13.

Giants 9, Marlins 4: Giancarlo Stanton homered in his sixth straight game. The record for consecutive games with a home run is eight, held by Stanton’s manager, Don Mattingly, Dale Long, and Ken Griffey, Jr., so keep watching. That was it for the Marlins, though, as the Giants offense did some damage. Denard Span had three hits including a homer. He and Hunter Pence each drove in a pair. Ryder Jones homered. Madison Bumgarner may have given up that shot to Stanton, but he knocked in a run of his own with a single while scattering nine hits and allowing four runs in six innings.

Brewers 3, Pirates 1: Zach Davies outdueled Ivan Nova, allowing one run over six. Manny Pina drove in two and Keon Broxton hit a pinch hit solo homer for the Brew Crew.

Rangers 10, Tigers 4: Texas beat up Justin Verlander for three homers and five runs over six innings, with the dingers coming off the bats of Joey Gallo (natch), Mike Napoli and Robinson Chirinos. Gallo’s homer was estimated at 459 feet, but the most impressive part of it was that the strikeout friendly slugger did it after coming back from an 0-2 count and laying off some high heat from Verlander, who had struck him out on three pitches in his previous at bat.

Reds 2, Cubs 1: Starters Luis Castillo and Kyle Hendricks each tossed six scoreless innings, but Scooter Gennett drove in Joey Votto with a sacrifice fly in the eighth to break a scoreless tie and Billy Hamilton singled home the go-ahead run in the ninth. Votto reached base three times, all on walks, to bring himself to within a game of Ted Williams’ record for the most consecutive games of reaching twice.

Indians 8, Twins 1: Carlos Santana hit two homers and teammates Jason Kipnis, Edwin Encarnacion and Austin Jackson each went deep as well. Danny Salazar allowed one run over seven, striking out ten. Maybe this year will be the opposite of last year for Cleveland, and they’ll peak late instead of early with healthy starting pitching heading into the playoffs.

Braves 4, Rockies 3: Nolan Arenado committed a rare throwing error which allowed Brandon Phillips to score the go-ahead run for Atlanta in the eighth inning. Nick Markakis homered as the Braves get a rare win in Coors Field. Back in the day (like, 20 years ago) they owned Colorado, but the Rockies had taken 11 straight from the Braves in Denver before this one.

Athletics 10, Royals 8: The teams combined to score 11 runs in the eighth inning. Viva bullpens. Matt Joyce hit a three-run double that inning, pulling the A’s from behind. Ned Yost walked Rajai Davis to load the bases to get to minor, too which, oops. Joyce had homered earlier in the game which made it all the more questionable, but managers like their lefty-lefty matchups and their theoretical double plays. Drew ButeraEric Hosmer and Mike Moustakas all homered in the Royals half of the run-happy eighth.

Mariners 3, Orioles 1: Andrew Albers allowed one run over five for his first win in just over four years. The last came on August 12, 2013. Don’t make any plans for mid-August, 2021 if you’re an Albers fan. He had some serious help from Jarod Dyson. Look at this throw, off friggin’ balance, too:

Dodgers 6, White Sox 1: Seems unfair to let the White Sox play the Dodgers, but that’s what the schedule called for. It looked close for a while, actually, as the game was tied 1-1 in the eighth. That’s when L.A. unloaded for five runs, with the go-ahead run coming on a bases loaded hit-by-pitch of Joc Pederson followed by two-run singles from both Austin Barnes and Corey Seager. The Dodgers are no 50 games over .500.

Padres 8, Phillies 4: Cory Spangenberg homered for the third time in four games and drove in four and starter Dinelson Lamet allowed two runs over seven innings of work, striking out seven. He also leads the league in Names That Should Totally Be That Of The Main Character In Magical Realist Novels.