And That Happened: Tuesday's scores and highlights

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Rangers 11, Indians 9; Rangers 10, Indians 5: Lots of runs,
Marlon Byrd went 4 for 4 in the day game, blah, blah, blah, but I wanna
talk about something else. As I mentioned before, I’m re-reading Nice Guys Finish Last.
I’m being really pokey about it, putting it down, reading other stuff,
forgetting it for a week and going back again. It just lends itself to
that, ya know? Anyway, a few days ago I read a passage I hadn’t thought
anything of the first time I read it — probably because I was a kid —
but that I can’t shake. In it, Durocher is lamenting the decline of the
playing manager, which is how he began his career. The book was
published in 1975, the year Frank Robinson became the Indians’ manager.
Take it away, Leo:

I get a kick out of reading how difficult it is going to be
for Frank Robinson to manage the Cleveland Indians and also serve as
their designated hitter. Since when has swinging a bat every half hour
or so become so taxing on the brain? My bet is that Frank’s very
presence in the lineup will give the club a shot in the arm. The
Cleveland situation was made for Frank Robinson, and Frank Robinson was
made for them. A good baseball city, hungry for a winner. A city which
has become predominantly black . . . I always said that when it came to
naming the first colored manager, Rule #1 would still apply. It was
going to be the man who was in the right place at the right time.

A man of his time, I guess, but no less disturbing to see it written
like that. Far more disturbing, however, was how Leo used the Robinson
bit to note how he thought that Maury Wills would have become the first
black manager: “Maury has everything it takes to make a good one,”
Durocher writes. Of course, Wills went on to become perhaps the worst
manager in the history of baseball with the Mariners a few years later.
There’s no point to this other than to say that times and people
change, it’s September, and at some point you really have to quit
caring about Indians-Rangers games in which no one decides to pitch.

Red Sox 10, Orioles 0: Clay Buchholz seems to be figuring this
Major League stuff out (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Two homers for Pedroia. Papi
hit a homer too. If he hits one more, he sets the DH record. The next
seven games are at home, however, so we’re not likely to see fans
holding up asterisk signs for this momentous record. The asterisks
would not be for the PED thing, though, because no one really cares
about that. They’d be in protest of his status as a full time DH which
is an affront to good and true baseball the world over. OK, nowhere in
the world but the NL and the Central League, but if everyone else jumped off a bridge would you do it too? Well, would you?!

Cubs 9, Pirates 4: The AP game story referred to the Pirates as
“hapless.” I think hap-quotient is a lazy post-hoc rationalization for
a team’s performance. There have been plenty of teams that have won a
lot of games with very little hap, and vice-versa. The 1988 Braves?
Tons of hap. Lost 106 games. The 1970 Orioles, on the other hand, were
a great team, but were almost totally hap-free. You can look it up.

Blue Jays 6, Twins 3: Jon Rauch was tagged with a blown save
despite entering the game in the sixth inning. If I were him I’d
protest that one, because there was no way he was going to finish that
game. Charging a guy with a blown save in a game where he’d never
otherwise sniff a save is like charging a guy with robbery when he
never got anywhere near the safe.

Phillies 5, Nationals 3: You’re not going to believe this, but
Brad Lidge almost blew this one in the ninth. Single, ground out, HBP,
WP, walk, yanked. The yanking probably came less because he was about
to blow the game than it was because the walk was issued to Christian
Guzman, who doesn’t exactly feature the base on balls in his arsenal.
Raul Ibanez hit his 29th and 30th homers, joining Howard, Utley and
Werth with 30+ homers. Back in the 80s Donruss would have made a
baseball card with all four of them holding bats out over the words
“heavy lumber” or something. Do they still do stuff like that? Is
Donruss even around anymore? If not, are my Diamond King puzzles worth
anything? How about my Ron Darling “rated rookie”? Why am I going on
like Andy Rooney?

Marlins 4, Mets 2: Carlos Beltran returns and goes 1 for 4. It
seems like he was lost eight years ago, but it was only June. I had
forgotten how great a season he was having too (.335/.423/.527). One
can only wonder how 2009 could have gone for this team if they had even
a scintilla of luck this year.



Yankees 3, Rays 2: A walkoff Nick Swisher homer wins it for the
bombers, his second of the game. This was the Yankees’ 90th win, so
they can go 0-22 for the remainder of the season and still finish the
year a game better than last year.

Braves 2, Astros 1: Javier Vazquez had a nice game: seven
innings of shutout ball with nine Ks while smacking two hits of his
own. Otherwise the Braves offense consisted of two solo homers and a
single from Martin Prado. With this kind of onslaught, it’s a wonder
the Braves didn’t fall out of it long before they did.

Athletics 11, White Sox 3: I haven’t seen this many crooked numbers in an Oakland A’s box score since monsters like John Jaha roamed the Earth.

Royals 7, Tigers 5: Yuniesky Betancourt took a walk for the second night in a row. Next come the Tribulations and the Red Heifer.

Rockies 3, Reds 1: Eric Young Jr. hit his first home run.
Nothing makes me feel older than the fact that the son of a guy who
played for a 1990s expansion team is now hitting home runs in the
majors. Let me guess: Chuck Carr and Pat Rapp’s kids are finishing med
school this year?

Cardinals 4, Brewers 3: Fourteen pitchers were used in a 4-3
game. I’d like to think that in using so many guys Ken Macha was just
messin’ with La Russa and giving him some of his own business. Either
way, someone soon is going to get wise to the fact that walking Pujols,
intentionally or otherwise, to get to Matt Holliday — who had the game
winning dinger in the ninth with Pujols on base via a free pass —
isn’t the smartest move in the world.

Padres 4, Giants 3: Madison Bumgarner — who was born two weeks
after I got my driver’s license and thus makes me feel just as old as
Eric Young Jr. does — made his debut in place of the aching Tim
Lincecum, giving up two runs over five and a third and left the game
with the lead. That was against the Padres, though, so that translates
into seven or eight runs against a real offense. With this loss and the
Rockies’ win, the Giants fall three back in the wild card. They had
better rally soon, though, because this is the closest thing we have to
a race this year.

Dodgers 5, Diamondbacks 4: Four RBI singles in the eighth lead big blue to a comeback win. The Dbacks turned five double plays in the game.

Angels 3, Mariners 2: A nice start from Scott Kazmir went
unrewarded due to poor run support and another blown save by Brian
Fuentes, but Erick Aybar’s two out single in the 10th saved the day.
Both of Kazmir’s starts have come against Felix Hernandez. I’m guessing
he’s getting tired of that.

And That Happened: Friday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Friday’s scores and highlights:

Dodgers 4, Giants 2: The Dodgers had the NL West title in the bag on Friday, holding the Giants to two runs and taking the lead on Cody Bellinger‘s three-run blast in the third (an NL-best 39th home run, to boot). Feels like the Giants should get some extra credit for a ninth-inning Pablo Sandoval home run off of Kenley Jansen, but alas: they struck out thrice following the homer, leaving the Dodgers with the division title and their 98th win of the year. Next up: the Cubs, whose magic number sits at five heading into Saturday’s contest against the Brewers.

Cardinals 4, Pirates 3: The Cardinals kept things interesting in the NL wild card race, edging the Pirates to take the lead behind the Diamondbacks and Rockies as the first runner-up. Down 3-2 in the ninth, Jedd Gyorko pinch-hit the tying run with a one-out RBI single, while Dexter Fowler put the Cards ahead after Jordy Mercer failed to execute the double play.

Rays 8, Orioles 3: On the heels of Wilson Ramos‘ monster grand slam, Evan Longoria catapulted the Rays past a new milestone with his 19th home run of the season, a 353-foot solo shot that stretched just beyond the warning track in the third:

It marked the Rays’ 216th home run of 2017, tying their 2016 total for the most in club history. That’s a small consolation in light of their ever-dimming playoff chances, however, which haven’t improved at all since last Sunday. Friday’s win kept them five games back of a wild card spot, but the Twins appear to be in no rush to relinquish their playoff berth just yet.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1: The Yankees postponed their postseason clinch on Friday, unable to topple the Blue Jays with a single 469-foot swing from slugger Aaron Judge. The Blue Jays responded with an eight-run spread and some heads-up defense, including this tried-and-true trick:

Red Sox 5, Reds 4: David Price may not have entered the 2017 season with a bullpen role in mind, but he’s been nothing but dominant in two appearances so far. He pitched through another scoreless inning on Friday, fanning four batters in 2 2/3 innings as he helped preserve the Red Sox’ narrow lead over the Reds. Even better: he contributed a leadoff single in the seventh, his first hit of any kind since 2010.

“I liked hitting way more [than pitching],” Price told reporters after the game. “That was cool. I was due.”

Twins 7, Tigers 3: The Twins have a death grip on the second AL wild card spot. They chased Daniel Norris with a four-run lead on Friday for their second straight win, banking on home runs from Brian Dozier and Max Kepler and a three-hit performance from Byron Buxton. It all proved too overwhelming for the Tigers, who dropped their fifth straight contest and now carry a 2-8 record over their last 10 games.

Mets 7, Nationals 6: Dusty Baker enjoys home runs, but he likes runs more. The Nationals produced both in mass quantities this season, exiting Friday’s loss with a franchise-best 780 runs scored and 203 home runs. Adam Lind was the only National to go deep against the Mets in their series opener, riding a Robert Gsellman fastball for his 13th dinger of the season and helping set a new single-season club record in the process.

It wasn’t enough to overcome the Mets, however, who surged to a one-run lead after putting up a five-spot in the fifth.

Braves 7, Phillies 2: Sean Newcomb hasn’t had the smoothest transition to the majors, but he intends to finish his rookie season strong. He chipped away at the Phillies for 5 1/3 innings, recording two runs and five strikeouts as the offense built a five-run lead behind him. The Braves had a far easier time against fellow rookie starter Ben Lively, who gave up six consecutive hits to start the game:

White Sox 7, Royals 6: The playoffs are looking further and further away for the Royals, who dropped their series opener following Jason Hammel‘s worst start of the season. Hammel scattered seven runs over 3 1/3 innings — including a five-run spread in the fourth — and the Royals’ offense couldn’t quite recover, producing just five baserunners in six scoreless innings. On the plus side, at least Ned Yost is coming back next year?

Cubs 5, Brewers 4 (10 innings): The Cubs are still the clear favorites to clinch the NL Central, but they’ll need to stay on top of the Cardinals and Brewers this week to take their second consecutive division title. On Friday, they did just that, squeezing past the Brewers with a good old-fashioned go-ahead RBI walk.

The win might have been too close for comfort for Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon, who told reporters he doesn’t feel like he’s in control of the division just yet. “Let’s go play [Saturday’s] game,” Maddon said. “I’m interested in one-game winning streaks. We’ve had two of them. I want another one-game winning streak [Saturday]. That’s how I look at it.”

Astros 3, Angels 0: For the first six innings, this had all the makings of a bonafide pitcher’s duel. Justin Verlander and Garrett Richards were in lockstep, dealing one hit and six strikeouts apiece as their respective offenses failed to manufacture any run support at the plate. That changed in the seventh, when Yuli Gurriel unloaded a three-run homer off of Yusmeiro Petit for the first and only runs scored of the night. While the Astros already have a guaranteed reservation in the playoffs, the Angels are still hoping to top the Twins and currently trail by 3.5 games.

Athletics 4, Rangers 1: Speaking of wild card contenders, the Rangers are also stalling at 3.5 games back of postseason contention. They couldn’t find a foothold against Kendall Graveman, who held them to a Shin-Soo Choo solo shot through seven solid innings. The A’s, meanwhile, are playing some of their best ball of the year after getting eliminated, and added Friday’s win to their second five-game tear this month.

Diamondbacks 13, Marlins 11: Zack Greinke doesn’t implode often, but when he does, Chris Iannetta is there to bail him out. At least, that’s how the narrative unfolded on Friday night, when Greinke was tagged for a season-high eight runs in four innings and Iannetta helped power the Dbacks’ comeback with three hits (including a three-run homer and a grand slam) and eight RBI. Fernando Rodney fended off a late-game rally from the Marlins in the ninth, closing the door with a game-ending force out to collect his 300th career save. The club’s magic number is two.

Mariners 3, Indians 1: It’s been exactly a week since the Indians lost their historic 22-win streak to the Royals, and on Friday, they commemorated that anniversary with another fumble. This time, the loss only snapped Cleveland’s modest five-win streak, but the Mariners still found a way to inject some ninth-inning drama:

Rockies 4, Padres 1: The Rockies aren’t taking any chances when it comes to the NL wild card race — and for good reason, as they’re clinging to a 1.5-game lead with eight still left to play. Jon Gray padded their wild card advantage with his third quality start of the month, going six strong as Nolan Arenado, Ian Desmond and Trevor Story backed his efforts with a handful of homers.

What in the heck is Derek Jeter doing with the Marlins?

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Last night we linked the Miami Herald story about the Marlins firing special assistants Jeff Conine, Andre Dawson, Tony Perez and Jack McKeon. Let’s talk about that a little bit.

The firings themselves are eyebrow-raising inasmuch as “special assistants” like that are rarely key front office personnel. Former players, Hall of Famers and former managers like those guys are really ambassadors for the team and, particularly in the case of Jeff Conine, who is known as “Mr. Marlin,” why would new ownership want to kick its ambassadors to the curb? It’s not like you can just hire a bunch of new franchise legends for he role. Who ya gonna call? Dan Uggla?

Sure, I can see an argument for changing their responsibilities. If they actually had say in baseball operations, I can see new ownership wanting to relieve them of those duties. It’s also possible that Jeff Loria paid them too much money for guys who are only team ambassadors. So, sure, if the job is too cushy by the standards of the gig, I could see Jeter cutting their pay or their duties to make it conform to what other clubs do with their former stars. Maybe that makes them want to quit. If so, that’s OK I suppose.

Beyond that, however, it’s hard to see why you would NOT want guys like Conine, Dawson, Perez and McKeon to represent your club in the community and in the service of impressing prospective season ticket holders. The franchise’s first star player, a Hall of Famer who ended his career with the club, another Hall of Famer who is from Cuba (which is kind of a big deal in a place like Miami) and the manager who brought the club its last World Series championship are exactly who you want to represent your team. Especially when nearly everything else about your team has, for so very long, alienated the very public you want supporting it.

But let’s say, for the moment, that there was a good reason to fire those guys. Let’s say they’re all flaming jackwagons who have secretly poisoned the franchise from within. Let’s say that, despite his grandfatherly charm, Jack McKeon is a ruthless Machiavellian. Let’s say that Conine, Dawson and Perez beat up copy boys in the stairwells and microwave leftover fish in the break room every day. Even if that’s the case, how does this happen?

And here’s the twist: Jeter asked Marlins president David Samson to fire those four Marlins luminaries for him, because Jeter didn’t want to do it.

Even more strange, Jeter made the request after telling Samson what he already knew: that Samson would not be returning as team president.

It seems that Samson did carry out the firings. Unless some handsome severance package was being held hostage over it, I’m not sure how Samson doesn’t tell Jeter, “Hey Captain RE2PECT, know what? Up yours, you do it yourself.” Of course, one can only project one’s own sensibility on a guy like David Samson so much, so let’s cut him a bit of slack here. We don’t know how the conversation went. Maybe Samson was happy to tell those guys to hit the bricks.

But really, how doesn’t Jeter man-up and handle this himself? It’s not because he’s not yet officially the owner, because if he has the power to fire Samson, he has the power to fire Conine and his friends. Maybe there is more to this than the Herald story lets on, but as it stands now, it comes off as cowardice on Jeter’s part. It’s a really bad look.

I’ll be curious to see how this plays in the baseball establishment over the next couple of days. Everyone — particularly the press — loves Derek Jeter an credits him with a class, smoothness and media savvy matched by few others. This, though, was either (a) a failure of class and an act of disrespect to baseball luminaries; or (b) a complete bungling of public relations, serving to make what was, in reality, a reasonable move appear classless. It has to be one or the other.

Derek Jeter has been a teflon star for more than two decades, but two of the few things the media loves more than Derek Jeter are (a) old Baseball Men like McKeon, Dawson, Perez and Conine; and (b) “classiness.” It’ll be interesting to see if, for the first time in his professional life, the media gets its knives out for Derek Jeter for seeming content to dispense with both.