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.

Mariano Rivera to get his plaque in Monument Park on August 14

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The greatest closer in history is going to get the ultimate honor the New York Yankees bestow on August 14. That’s when Mariano Rivera will get his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Rays.

There was some chatter in the last year or two about whether the Yankees were somehow lowering their standards out there, what with guys like Tino Martinez getting honored. But if that’s something you care about it won’t matter in this instance. Rivera would’ve been worthy even if the old snobby ways had held and only inner-circle types got a plaque, what with him being a key member of five World Series-winning teams and his status as the all-time saves leader in the regular season and the postseason.

The Yankees retired Rivera’s No. 42 in 2013. He’ll get his plaque in August. Then, on the first ballot for which he is eligible, he’ll be voted into the Hall of Fame, likely with a percentage in the mid-to-high 90s.

Dodgers “trying to trade” Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero
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Alex Guerrero is a potentially good right-handed bat without a position to play in Los Angeles, so Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reporting that the Dodgers are “trying to trade” him makes sense.

Guerrero, who signed with the Dodgers out of Cuba for $28 million in October of 2013, spent last season in the majors hitting .233 with 11 homers and a .695 OPS in a part-time role that generated 230 plate appearances. He logged a total of just 355 innings defensively, mostly as a left fielder and third baseman.

Guerrero could be intriguing–particularly to an American League team for whom his defense isn’t much of an issue–because he hit .329 with 15 homers and a 1.113 OPS in 65 games at Triple-A in 2014 and was consistently a .300 hitter with an OPS around 1.000 in Cuba. He’s also 29 years old, so Guerrero is no doubt looking to play regularly.

The New Zealand World Baseball Classic team performs the Haka

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It’s World Baseball Classic time again. Just the qualifying rounds. The actual tournament happens in 2017. Qualifiers will happen in Sydney, Australia, Mexicali, Mexico, Panama City, Panama and Brooklyn, N.Y., periodically, between now and September.

The Sydney round just got underway yesterday, so yes, some actual baseball is going on. As I’ve written and ranted before, the WBC is not my favorite thing that happens in baseball and certainly not the most important thing, but it’s pretty fun. Especially when there are displays of enthusiasm and pageantry and the like.

Such as the Haka, which basically every New Zealand sports team does and which never gets old:

 

Down in Sydney, the Australia, New Zealand, Philippines and South Africa teams are competing in a six-game, modified double-elimination format. In the other three qualifying rounds, Mexico, Czech Republic, Germany, Nicaragua, Colombia, France, Panama, Spain, Brazil, Great Britain, Israel and Pakistan will compete. Each qualifying round puts one representative in the WBC.

Those four qualifiers will compete in the WBC itself against countries that performed well enough in the past that they need not submit to qualifying: Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kingdom of the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, United States and Venezuela.

Someone make sure Jon Morosi is well-hyrdrated. It’s gonna be a long year.

Yovani Gallardo and the Orioles are both “optimistic” about a deal

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Multiple reports Wednesday had the Orioles and free agent right-hander Yovani Gallardo deep in negotiations on a multi-year deal. Nothing has been finalized yet, but Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com says “both sides appear to be pretty optimistic still.”

Ghiroli adds that the “ball is in the Orioles’ court,” although that may simply reveal her likely source to be Gallardo’s agent. Whatever the case, Baltimore is apparently now willing to forfeit their first-round draft pick to sign Galllardo and he may lead to a domino effect in which they also forfeit a second-round draft pick to sign outfielder Dexter Fowler.

The idea being that if you’re going to cough up the 14th overall pick to sign a mid-level free agent with spring training right around the corner you might as well cough up a lower draft pick to sign a second one. Gallardo has shown signs of decline, including a big dip in strikeout rate, but he logged 184 innings with a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers last season.