And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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Rockies 6, Giants 4: Walkoff grand slam in the 14th for Ryan
Spilborghs after the Rockies started their half of the inning down 4-1.
Colorado is starting to smell like a team of destiny. At any rate,
they’ve won seven of eight and are now four games ahead of the Giants for the NL wild card.

Phillies 6, Mets 2: If I can’t give John Smoltz full credit for
pitching against the Padres on Sunday, I sure as heck can’t give Cliff
Lee full credit for pitching against, well, whatever it was the team in
the orange, blue and white was forced to throw out there yesterday. I
never thought I’d say this, but not having Jeff Francoeur in the lineup
really hurt. Of course, Cliff Lee continues to be basically ridiculous
(7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 5K), so the Mets probably could have thrown out the
1986 lineup and they wouldn’t have done much. Ryan Howard drove in
five, which led to this game story note: “The home run also pushed
Howard past 100 RBIs, giving him four straight seasons with at least 30
homers and 100 RBIs. The only other Phillies player to accomplish that
was Hall of Famer Chuck Klein from 1929-32.” I would have bet my
children that Schmidt had done it, but between his relatively
pedestrian 1978 season, the strike in 1981, and some low OBP guys
hitting in front of him, and the opportunities just never presented
themselves.

Red Sox 12, White Sox 8: We may have a winner for the most
misleading line score of the year in the form of Jose Contreras’ one
earned run in 2.2 innings pitched. Here’s Contreras’ third inning:
Single, out, out (ok so far), walk, HBP, error by Contreras himself,
walk, wild pitch, home run. None of the six runs that scored that
inning were “earned” because of the error. Except it was Jose
Contreras’ error, and it was surrounded with about the worst possible
pitching imaginable. He more than earned those runs. He went out,
tracked them down with dogs, hunted them to the ends of the Earth,
killed them, and drove home with them strapped to the fender of his car
with little tags on their ears. As for the Red Sox, a win is a win, but
Clay Buchholz is as inefficient as a Caloric dishwasher. He averages
something like 97 pitches but only a shade more than five innings a
start. This one was a Buchholz special (4.2 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 3K, 92
pitches). All in all it was a 3:42 game, and thanks to Contreras and
Buchholz, it may very well have been the ugliest game of the season.

Brewers 7, Nationals 1: A weird 4:30 start time. What’s the
story, here? It’s a getaway day so I see why you don’t go with the
night game, but why not then make it an old-timey businessman’s special
and start the thing a 1PM? I guess they figure they can get people
leaving work a bit early, but I’ve always found it easier to just never
come back after lunch than it is to slip out the door at 4PM. Then
again, I’ve worked at many, many places in my life so perhaps my
example isn’t the best one to emulate.

Rays 12, Blue Jays 7: Roy Halladay’s worst start of the year (6
IP, 12 H, 8 R) shoots his ERA over 3.00 for the first time since early
May. As for the Rays, they keep a close watch on this heart of mine.
They keep their eyes wide open all the time. They keep the ends out for
the tie that bind. Because they’re mine, they’ve won seven of nine.

OK, I’m really sorry about that one. That was bad even for me.

Twins 2, Orioles 1: Scott Baker allows one run on four hits in
seven and beats Chris Tillman. The two Minnesota runs came off of a
wild pitch (following a triple) and a sacrifice fly. Kind of a passive
aggressive game.

Indians 10, Royals 6: Luis Valbuena hit a three-run shot off of
Joakim Soria — who was apparently called in to get the nearly unheard
of two-inning save — in the eighth. Big game for Travis Hafner (3-4,
2B, HR, 4 RBI).

Tigers 10, Angels 7: Miguel Cabrera homered and drove in five.
Justin Verlander had a 10-run lead in the sixth inning when he started
to get hit. Leyland: “He lost his tunnel vision. You got a 10-run lead,
you got to go out there and pitch like it’s a 1-0 lead . . . You can’t
worry about what the score was.” So much for “pitching to the score.”
Umpire Tim Welke left the game in the bottom of the fourth after
getting hit in the chest by a foul tip from Vladimir Guerrero. I didn’t
see it, but given that it’s Vlad we’re talking about, the ball was
probably on Welke’s chest protector already when he swung.

Mariners 3, Athletics 1: Griffey hit a homer with his mom in the
stands. “She doesn’t get to see too many games live. She’s going to
take credit for that one.” Actually, she could technically take credit
for all 625 of your home runs, young man. Not that she’ll ever get any
thanks. And to think she carried you around in her body for nine months
. . . but don’t mind me, I’m just your mother . . . a call would be
nice sometime too, and let me tell you what I think about those boys
you’ve been gallivanting around town with . . .

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)
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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: