And That Happened: Friday's scores and highlights

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Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Pujols gets a walkoff homer, but the
bigger story is that John Smoltz was strong again, giving up one run
and striking out six over six innings. Yes, it was once again against a weak
team, but unlike San Diego, Washington can actually hit and are sixth
in the NL in runs per game.

Giants 2, Rockies 0: Eight shutout innings for Lincecum, and the Rockies wild card lead is down to two games.

Angels 11, Athletics 7: The A’s led this one 6-1 at one point,
but then Anaheim turned on the afterburners, mostly due to Kendry
Morales, who was 5-5 with a homer and six RBI. All seven of the Angels’
runs in the seventh were unearned.

Reds 4, Dodgers 2: It’s tempting to say that Homer Bailey has
finally turned the corner after a couple of strong starts (and this one
was strong: 8 IP, 0 ER, 7K), but he’s done this kind of thing before
only to revert back to, well, being Homer Bailey. The difference now is
that the Reds have no business messing with him anymore, and should
start next season with him in the rotation to either sink or swim for
good.

Yankees 5, White Sox 2: Three-run walkoff job for Robinson Cano
in the 10th. The Golden Sombrero for Jim Thome (0-4, 4 Ks). Not trying
to slam Thome here. I like him. I just like to say “Golden Sombrero.”

Phillies 4, Braves 2: Stupid rain. Due to a 45 minute rain delay
early in the game the Braves lost Tommy Hanson which, all due respect
to Pedro Martinez, is a bigger loss to them than losing Pedro was to
Philly. Moyer and Chen mop up for the Phillies, and Ryan Howard went 3
for 3 with two homers. I won’t say the Braves are quite done yet, but
if you took them off the fire and let them rest covered on the counter
for a little while they’ll probably be nice and medium rare in a few
minutes.

Red Sox 6, Blue Jays 5: Josh Beckett continues to struggle and give up long balls, but the Sox rallied.

Diamondbacks 14, Astros 7: Just like a 68 degree day in August
gives you a refreshing but premature taste of fall, a 14-7 game before
labor day between two non-contenders gives you a depressing but
premature taste of just-playing-out-the-string season.

Tigers 6, Rays 2: From the “You have GOT to be kidding me”
department, Brandon Inge: “There’s a kid named Noah that I’ve visited a
couple times in the hospital, and he’s at home right now, and I spent a
couple hours with him today. He asked me the dreaded question — could
I hit a home run for him in the game, and I told him I’d do the best I
could.” And he did.

Cubs 5, Mets 2: A three-run homer by Alfonso Soriano breaks a
tie in the eighth and wins the game. It was his first homer in a month.
Milton Bradley had three hits, but don’t think for a second he enjoyed
any of them.

Orioles 13, Indians 4: Matt Wieters was 3-4 with 4 RBI. Fausto Carmona, who looked so damn good his last time out, got shelled.

Brewers 8, Pirates 6: Braun, Fielder and Jason Bourgeois hit
homers. John Russell benched Ryan Doumit in the middle of the game and
the two of them had a closed-door meeting after the game. Neither of
them are talking to the media, so until we hear anything further, I’m
going to assume that they were arguing over whether Pitt the Elder or
Lord Palmerston was England’s greatest Prime Minister.

Padres 9, Marlins 5: Chris Volstad was lit up like a Christmas
tree. The Braves fan in me likes to see that San Diego is effectively
ending Florida’s shot at the wild card on the same road trip that they
killed the Braves’ chances.

Twins 3, Rangers 2: Brian Duensing is no fireballer, but he
struck out eight in seven innings. The Rangers’ Tommy Hunter looked
good too. He’s also tough: Justin Morneau lined one off his chest, but
Hunter stayed in the game.

Mariners 6, Royals 3: Mike Sweeney is 112 years old and really
hasn’t been able to run since he was in grade school, but he scored
from third on a comebacker to the mound in the second, belly-flopping
past Olivo as he tried to apply the tag. Calling hours for Sweeney will
be held for Sweeney at the Ranier Funeral Home this Tuesday. In lieu of
flowers, donations can be made to the Harold Baines Home for the Aged
and Decrepit.

Russell Martin is not a fan of the automatic intentional walk

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 15:  Russell Martin #55 of the Toronto Blue Jays reacts after being struck out in the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game two of the American League Championship Series at Progressive Field on October 15, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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On Tuesday, it was announced that Major League Baseball instituted a new rule allowing for a dugout signal in order to issue an intentional walk rather than having the pitcher throw four pitches wide of the strike zone. It’s commissioner Rob Manfred’s attempt to help improve the game’s pace of play.

As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin is certainly not a fan of the change.

My thing is, if they really want to speed up the game, then when a guy hits a home run, to speed up the game should a guy, just like in softball, when he hits it, should he just walk to the dugout? It’d be quicker. I’m just wondering, at what point do we just keep the game, the game? Or, how about this calculation: take all the intentional walks that were made in the last couple years and calculate – or maybe just ask to see if they have that information, to see if they really did their homework. Is it really that important to speed up the game (with this rule)? Because how many games did we play last year where we didn’t have one intentional walk? That’s something I’d like to know.

Martin also expressed concern that eliminating the four-pitch intentional walk will hurt teams’ ability to buy time for their relievers to warm up.

It’s called getting your bullpen ready so the guy doesn’t blow out his arm on the mound. Speed up the game, speed up the game.’ How about we just give guys – the human being – time to warm up on the mound after maybe something’s happened in the game? I’m not a manager, but I’m just trying to put myself in the position of a manager. OK, we’re up by one run or two runs and our bullpen’s been taxed and we’re trying to save their arms, and then the other team walks, ball gets away, guy gets to second base. When the coach visits the mound to talk to his player, it’s not like the player necessarily needs somebody to talk to him.

It’s because the guy (in the bullpen) needs time to warm up, man. It’s the same thing when you throw over to first base, like, eight times in a row. It’s not like we’re trying to keep the guy close. The guy maybe has two stolen bases in 18 years. It’s because the guy needs time to warm up. At what point does that become a problem with guys warming up in the bullpen? Sometimes it’s just strategy to give guys a little bit of time to warm up.

The Jays’ backstop then said he’d prefer if Manfred were honest about the intent behind this rule change and others which have been proposed. Martin said, “Save it. I’m tired of hearing that same lame excuse all the time. Just be honest. If they’re honest about it, we’ll get over it. But don’t hide behind the fans.”

We should be hearing from a handful of players about the new intentional walk rule in the coming days. I can’t imagine the rule is very popular among the players.

Leonys Martin feared for his life from alleged human traffickers

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 30: Leonys Martin #12 of the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on September 30, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
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Leonys Martin, outfielder for the Seattle Mariners, testified yesterday that he feared for his life after he was smuggled from Cuba by a group of men prosecutors say worked for a sports agent and a baseball trainer currently on trial for human trafficking in Miami.

Martin took the stand at the trial of Bartolo Hernandez and Julio Estrada, who face felony charges. He said that, after getting to Mexico from Cuba, men threatened to take him away. There was a kidnapping attempt against one of the men who had taken him from Cuba as well. Martin said that, eventually, he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border into Texas without any valid papers because his life was in danger and his safety was at risk.

Players like Martin who fled Cuba often hole up in Mexico while waiting to be declared free agents by Major League Baseball. There is pitched competition to sign agreements with the players in question, seeking to obtain promises of a cut of future baseball earnings for their services. Those promises can come under the threat of violence. Eventually, Martin promised to pay Hernandez and Estrada, but ceased paying them later, fomenting a lawsuit from them. In the wake of the suit, the allegations of threats and smuggling arose, leading to this trial.

Martin has been late to Mariners camp as a result of having to testify. He’ll likely report in the next day or so. The trial continues.