And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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White Sox 9, Red Sox 5: Who needs Billy Wagner when you have
Nick Green? The shortstop pitches two shutout innings. That’s a huge
increase in the number of innings he’s thrown over last year, but don’t
worry: Since he’s over 25, the Verducci Effect probably doesn’t come into play.  By the way, I just love that picture. In it he’s actually throwing over to first, but it kind of looks like those old photos of deadball-era pitchers just hurling it up there without really putting their whole body into it.

Dodgers 3, Rockies 2: Vicente Padilla. Who knew? Nothing special
of course — two runs on six hits over five — but that’s a few fewer
hits and runs than you might have expected him to give up. This series
— and what came before and after it — represents everything fantastic
about baseball. The Rockies took three of four from the Giants and won
one in dramatic fashion against L.A. 48 hours ago. Then bam, bam,
they’re four games out and have to go to San Francisco and face Tim
Lincecum, a resurgent Barry Zito and Matt Cain. They could end the week
way worse off than they started it, and no one could have expected it
as late as Wednesday afternoon. It’s a relentless season that gives no
quarter. You can’t pump yourself up once a week or ride a hot hand.
Twenty-five guys have to go out there every single day and do it. It
actually makes exercises like these daily recaps rather silly, as the
true story of the season can only truly be seen from a distance. The
true mettle of a team revealed in its skills at long term survival.

Diamondbacks 11, Giants 0: Then again, maybe the Rockies don’t have much to worry about this weekend.

Pirates 3, Phillies 2: So your first closer blows one, and your
second closer blows one again the next night. Now what do you do? Well,
you can leave your starter out there the whole game, which is what
Charlie Manuel did with J.A. Happ last night. That didn’t work either
as Happ gives up two in the eighth, so now it looks like the Phils are
on to Plan D. Say, I wonder what would it take to pry Nick Green away
from Boston . . .

Braves 9, Padres 1: Atlanta salvages one behind seven shutout
innings by Javier Vazquez, who had an RBI to boot. Nine runs and
seventeen hits for the Braves, but the only extra-base hit was Adam
LaRoche’s homer in the sixth. Otherwise, it was single-fest.

Nationals 5, Cubs 4: Milton Bradley was 0 for 5, and is in a big
slump. I have no idea if Cubs fans actually hate him like he thinks
they do, but if they don’t already, he’s giving them ample reason. The
Cubs are now nine behind St. Louis. “Look, let’s just win some baseball
games. Forget the Cardinals and every other team,” said Lou Piniella
after the game. As long as that includes the Cubs, I think everyone is
on board.

Astros 4, Cardinals 3: Jeff Keppinger hit what would prove to be
the winning homer with two out in the ninth, averting a sweep by the
Cards. Nice rally, however small, the day after Oswalt said the team
was “dead.” Then again, maybe Oswalt didn’t really mean the team was
dead. I always have taken comments like that to be the way players
communicate their general unhappiness with the manager to the press and
team brass.

Indians 5, Royals 4: Andy Marte homered, tripled and drove in a
couple. He’s still no great shakes on the year, but he’s on a warmish
streak of late. If he keeps it up, he may actually be given one final
chance to be an all-season everyday starter in 2010. Because he’s a
former Braves prospect — and because I fear that the concept of being
a AAAA player extends to other walks of life beyond baseball and I thus
want to see it debunked out of fear and anxiety — I’m kind of rooting
for him to make it.



Rangers 7, Yankees 2: The team whose starter struck out 12 dudes
in six innings lost, and the team whose starter walked seven in 3.2 IP
won. That makes sense.

Reds 8, Brewers 5: Nothing I can say can beat the storylines as told by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal. First, Tom Haudricourt’s game story
starts like this: “It was another discouraging day at Miller Park on
Thursday as the Brewers ended a discouraging series in what has become
a discouraging second half.” The headline to Michael Hunt’s column puts
it more succinctly: “Another dank day of despair for our ’09 Brewers.” I’m guessing they’ve all turned their attention to the Badgers and Pack by now.

Mets 10, Marlins 3: Day games in Miami in August make total
sense. The box score says that there over 12,000 paid to see this game,
but based on the crowd shots I saw, there couldn’t have been half that.
Which raises a philosophical question: if the Mets get 17 hits and no
one was there to see it, did it really happen?

Athletics 2, Angels 0: Trevor Cahill threw two-hit shutout ball
over seven innings and Mike Wuertz and Andrew Bailey shut out the
Angels for the remaining two innings. This is bizarre: “The Angels’
uniformed personnel and front office staff assembled in center field
before batting practice for the 2009 team photo, but RHP Jered Weaver
missed because he was home with the flu. So PR guy Eric Kay stood in
wearing Weaver’s No. 36 jersey, and the pitcher’s head will be
superimposed when it is printed.” What happens if, say, Juan Rivera
screws up something really bad in a playoff game that costs the team
the season. Do they airbrush him out like Stalin did with purged
political enemies? Because the possibilities here seem limitless.


Chris Archer on joining Bruce Maxwell’s protest: “I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me at this time.”

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Rays pitcher Chris Archer doesn’t see himself joining Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest any time soon, Gabe Lacques of USA TODAY Sports reports. Archer said, “From the feedback that I’ve gotten from my teammates, I don’t think it would be the best thing to do for me, at this time. I agree with the message. I believe in equality.”

Archer continued, “I don’t want to offend anybody. No matter how you explain it or justify it, some people just can’t get past the military element of it and it’s not something I want to do, is ruffle my teammates’ feathers on my personal views that have nothing to do with baseball.”

Archer did express admiration for the way Maxwell handled his situation. The right-hander said, “The way he went about it was totally, I think, as respectful as possible, just letting everybody know that this doesn’t have anything to do with the military, first and foremost, noting that he has family members that are in the military. It’s a little bit tougher for baseball players to make that leap, but I think he was the right person to do it.”

Maxwell recently became the first baseball player to kneel as the national anthem was sung, a method of protest popularized by quarterback Colin Kaepernick. As Craig explained yesterday, baseball’s hierarchical culture has proven to be a strong deterrent for players to express their unpopular opinions. We can certainly see that in Archer’s justification. Archer was one of 62 African Americans on the Opening Day roster across 30 major league clubs (750 total players, 8.3%).

Major League Baseball issues a statement on Trump’s latest travel ban order

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Last night the Trump Administration announced a new batch of restrictions on people traveling from foreign countries, following up on its previous travel ban on persons from six predominately Muslim countries. The latest restriction could potentially touch on Major League Baseball, however, as it includes Venezuela.

The restriction for Venezuela is far narrower than the others, only blocking visas for government officials on business or tourist travel from Venezuela. There has been considerable uncertainty about the scope and enforcement mechanisms for the previous travel ban, however, and the entire matter is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. With that uncertainty, many around Major League Baseball have asked how and if the league or the union might respond to an order that, while seemingly not facially impacting baseball personnel or their families, could impact them in practice.

To that end, Major League Baseball issued a statement this afternoon, saying “MLB is aware of the travel ban that involves Venezuela and we have contacted the appropriate government officials to confirm that it will not have an effect on our players traveling to the U.S.” It is not clear whether it has, in fact, received such confirmation or if its an ongoing dialog or what.

Again: the ban shouldn’t impact baseball players or their families based on its terms. But based on what we saw with the enforcement of the previous one — and based the unexpected consequences many major leaguers faced when international travel restrictions were tightened following the 9/11 attacks — it’s only prudent for Major League Baseball to make such inquiries and get whatever assurances it can well in advance of next February when players from Venezuela will be coming back to the United States for spring training.