And That Happened: Monday's scores and highlights

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Angels 11, Rangers 0: The Angels clinch the West, and in a fit of wrongheadedness so comically tragic that it strains credulity, they soak the jersey of a victim of a fatal drunk driving accident with beer and champagne in celebration. Here’s hoping that someone in Angels’ management was passing out cab vouchers last night.

Tigers vs. Twins, POSTPONED: I usually put rainouts last, but this rainout was more significant than most of the actual games that were played last night. Not sure whether a doubleheader today gives either team a big advantage. The Twins have a better bullpen, but the Tigers are going with two starters — Porcello and Verlander — who will make their own bullpen less important by comparison. All I know is that if I was in Detroit tomorrow I’d probably be skipping work. Heck, the wine I ordered when I was out in California last week is getting delivered today, so I may skip work anyway.

Pirates 11, Dodgers 1: John Russell lifted Zach Duke with one out to go for a complete game. Russell’s explanation: that he wanted to give Duke a standing ovation as he left the mound. Sorry John, this ain’t basketball and I ain’t buyin’ it. My guess: Russell is in a fantasy league in which CGs are a stat and the guy he’s battling for first place owns Duke. It’ll be a scandal if people can ever prove it. Like the Pete Rose thing, but boring. As for the rest of the game: Andy LaRoche homered twice, doubled twice and singled, driving in six runs. Some genius once told me that homers were rally killers. They’re also cycle killers, so your failure was two-fold, Mr. LaRoche. So, L.A.? Is this how you’re gonna bring it against Philly or Atlanta or whoever you get next week? Good luck with that.

Braves 4, Marlins 0: I don’t know if the Rockies are going to cooperate and lose two or three games before Sunday, but if they do, ain’t nobody gonna want to face the Braves in the playoffs. Based on some stuff I read yesterday, there are still some people who don’t quite appreciate how awesome Jair Jurrjens is (“middle of the rotation starter?“). I wouldn’t trade the dude — who shut the Marlins out over seven — if the money for Fielder was dead even.

Astros 8, Phillies 2: Well, I suppose it’s possible that the Braves AND Rockies could make the playoffs. Such a collapse would be damn nigh historic as far as collapses go, but as I sit here this morning anything seems possible. I thought the 1987 Blue Jays had the division wrapped up too.

Rays 7, Orioles 6: If the Rays were to move from St. Pete after building a new stadium in Tampa or Branden or Riverview or something, could they change their name to the East Bay Rays? Because that would be cool.

Blue Jays 11, Red Sox 5: This one was called in the seventh inning because of rain and the mercy rule and the fact that three-fourths of the Red Sox roster is having spasms of some kind this week. Michael Bowden gave up seven runs on seven hits and a walk in a spot start for Beckett. In this he was like the substitute teacher who would just put on the “Free To Be You and Me” video, read her Better Homes and Gardens magazine and let the class run amok the entire period. Not that we all didn’t stop when Rosey Grier sang “It’s alright to cry,” some of us because we were touched, others because we couldn’t believe our frickin’ eyes. Man, being born in the 70s sucked.

White Sox 6, Indians 1: It blows my mind that, despite how nightmarish a season it has been for the Royals, they could once again finish out of the cellar and ahead of a team everyone thought would go to the playoffs when camp broke. But here are the Indians, losing again and letting this race go down to the wire.

Yankees 8, Royals 2: Not that Kansas City is going to go down without a fight. Luke Hochevar, pitched a three hit shutout a couple of starts ago, got shelled for eight runs on 12 hits in six innings. Atta boy, Lukey, always keep ’em guessing! This performance, by the way, came against a Yankee lineup containing such luminaries as Brett Gardner, Eric Hinkse, Shelley Duncan, Juan Miranda, and Frank Cervelli.

Nationals 2, Mets 1: Helen Keller once said “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.” She went on to say that the second most pathetic person in the world is any Mets fan who hasn’t jumped ship before now.

Chase Headley doesn’t think Yankee Stadium is as hitter-friendly as advertised

New York Yankees Chase Headley (12) breaks his bat on a ground out to third during the third inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Monday, April 25, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
AP Photo/Brandon Wade
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Yankees third baseman Chase Headley finished April without registering an extra-base hit. Across 71 plate appearances, he registered only nine hits for an uninspiring .150/.268/.150 triple-slash line. Speaking to David Laurilia of FanGraphs, Headley said that Yankee Stadium isn’t as hitter-friendly as many people think it is, and added that the shift has helped to limit his offensive success.

“Everybody talks about how good of a ballpark Yankee Stadium is to hit in, but it’s pretty big with the exception of right field,” said Headley. “The rest of it plays as big, or bigger, than most yards. It’s maybe a better fit for guys who hit the ball high down the line than it for guys who hit the ball like I have for a lot of my career.”

[…]

“Because of the shifting that’s going on now, if you hit the ball on the ground, for the most part you’re out,” Headley told me. “I’m trying to get the ball elevated — I want to hit it hard in the air — and if I never hit another ball on the ground, I’ll be happy.”

According to StatCorner.com, Yankee Stadium is indeed better for left-handed hitters, and particularly so when it comes to extra-base hits. It lists park factors for handedness, setting 100 as average. A higher number means it’s more hitter-friendly. Here are the left-right numbers as of today’s writing:

  • Singles: 101 for left-handed hitters, 102 for right-handed hitters
  • Doubles and triples: 101 LH, 82 RH
  • Home runs: 137 LH, 127 RH

Headley’s hypothesis seems to have some merit. But his claim that shifts have been hurting him doesn’t seem to hold up to the numbers.

babip

Headley’s ground ball BABIP (batting average on balls in play) this season is only .022 behind his career average of .239. As he’s only hit 23 ground balls total this season, the difference between .239 and .217 is less than one hit.

Where Headley’s BABIP is notably lower is line drives. His career average line drive BABIP is .698, but it’s only .333 on nine line drives in 2016. This could be simple bad luck or it could mean Headley is making worse contact. FanGraphs’ batted ball data suggests Headley has been pulling significantly fewer balls (36 percent to his 45 percent career average), and he’s making “hard” contact less often (21 percent versus his 31 percent career average). Overall, there’s been very little change in his ground ball rate versus his fly ball rate.

Headley mentioned to Laurila that if he could, he would try to hit fly balls to the pull side more often. “I’m working on that,” he said.

Carlos Martinez sued for battery, negligent transmission of STDs, and more

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez was given permission to leave the team on Friday in order to travel to Miami. Martinez was named in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed he knowingly trasmitted mutliple sexually trasmitted diseasese to her. She is seeking $1.5 million in damages for battery, negligent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, fraud, and more, TMZ reported on Saturday.

Martinez rejoined the team and started on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals. His attorney called the allegations “100% false”.

The Cardinals are waiting for more information to find out if the league will investigate the matter under its domestic violence policy. Via Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, GM John Mozeliak said, “We wait. And once we learn more, then we’ll have more of an idea. These are things you just learn as you go.”

Should obstruction have been called on Ryan Webb?

Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar gestures to the dugout after hitting a triple against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in Toronto. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)
Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Blue Jays had a comfortable 5-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays, but one never knows when a base runner might be crucial. Kevin Pillar was on first base when reliever Ryan Webb threw over to first on a pickoff attempt and got him in a rundown.

First baseman Logan Morrison chased Pillar towards second base, lobbing the ball to shortstop Brad Miller. Miller sent Pillar back to first base, throwing to Webb covering the bag. Webb chased Pillar back towards second base and threw to second baseman Logan Forsythe. Forsythe chased Pillar back again, but Webb wasn’t able to get out of Pillar’s way. Second base umpire Mark Ripperger immediately signaled “no obstruction” and Pillar was easily tagged out after he was essentially bear hugged by Webb.

Here’s the MLB.com video.

Major League Baseball defines obstruction as “the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.” Webb had already thrown the ball and Forsythe was in possession of it, so he couldn’t have been considered “in the act of fielding.”

At any rate, the Jays still won 5-1, giving them the series win over the Rays.

Reds place Raisel Iglesias on the 15-day disabled list

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Raisel Iglesias throws in the first inning of their opening day baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Monday, April 4, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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Reds starter Raisel Iglesias has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to an impingement in his right shoulder, the club announced on Sunday. The right-hander said he felt a “pinch” in his shoulder during a bullpen session on Friday.

The club also moved catcher Kyle Skipworth to the 60-day disabled list and recalled pitcher Tim Adleman from Triple-A Louisville.

Iglesias, 26, pitched well over his first five starts to begin the 2016 season. He compiled a 3.49 ERA with a 29/7 K/BB ratio in 28 1/3 innings.

The Reds can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to pitcher health. Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, John Lamb, and Michael Lorenzen are already on the disabled list.