And That Happened: Thursday's scores and highlights

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Twins 8, Tigers 3: You say the Tigers all but put it away
yesterday? Whoo-hoo-hoo, look who knows so much. It just so happens
that the Twins, here, were only MOSTLY dead. There’s a big difference
between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.

Nationals 2, Braves 1: Of course with all dead, well, with all
dead there’s usually only one thing you can do. And now that the
Rockies have clinched the Wild Card, we’re simply going through the
Braves’ clothes looking for loose change. Tommy Hanson is some loose
change. He didn’t win, but seven innings of one-run, nine strikeout
ball probably clinched the Rookie of the Year award. More generally
speaking, I’m proud of my team for not mailing in the last month of the
season like so many of us out here in Braves Land thought they would.
Last winter I said this team was really shooting for 2010. Based on how
2009 is ending, 2010 looks pretty good right now.

Rockies 9, Brewers 2: Congratulations Colorado. After the
horrendous start to the season and the canning of Clint Hurdle, I don’t
think anyone gave them a snowball’s chance, but here they are with the
wild card. Well, for now anyway. If they sweep the flaccid Dodgers this
weekend, they win the west. If you’re Colorado, do you try to make that
happen, or do you try to rest regulars over the weekend and hope to get
back at the Dodgers in the NLCS?

Cardinals 13, Reds 0: Somebody obviously rubbed Chris
Carpenter’s balls down properly! Five innings, zero runs, a grand slam
and a two run double. In an effort to extend his campaign of accusation
and gamesmanship, however, La Russa protested the outcome of the game.
Always keep ’em guessing. That’s Tony’s motto.

Red Sox 3, Indians 0: If I were Eric Wedge I’d play this garbage
100% straight. Hold a team meeting before tonight’s game. Give serious
sounding quotes to the media suggesting that I was still passionately
interested in the development of this team. Play it up so much that
someone would feel obligated to subtly remind me that I was fired
already. As for Boston, it had to be nice to see such a strong start
from Lester after last week’s comebacker. The next time we’ll see him
is Game 1 against the Angels.

Astros 5, Phillies 3: Cliff Lee was shaky last night. And down
the stretch in general, going 2-4 with a 6.13 ERA in his past seven
starts. I guess he’s the Game 1 starter, though who the start will come
against is still to be decided.

Orioles 3, Rays 2: “From the tracks on his arms, large caliber
wound, proximity to a heroin market… I’d say it was a heated dispute
about the symbolism of red and blue in 18th-century French romantic
poetry.” Yeah, I know they won. They still get a H:LOTS quote.

Rangers 11, Angels 3: After questions swirled regarding Kevin
Millwood’s health and whether the Rangers should allow his option to
vest, he comes out and wins his last three starts. This one was a ten
strikeout, 122-pitch complete game, and as the Rangers enter the
offseason, the question of who the veteran anchor of the rotation is
going to be has suddenly disappeared. As for the Angels, this was
merely a tuneup. John Lackey only threw 40 pitches, and he’ll start
Game 1 against the Red Sox.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: A two-run single for Mike Sweeney in
the fifth puts Seattle over the top. Given that he’s at the end of a
one-year contract, it could be Sweeney’s last moment of glory in the
big leagues.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: A day of curtain calls. Rich Aurilia
played in what is almost certainly his last home game for the Giants
and Randy Johnson pitched the ninth inning. I suppose, theoretically,
he can pitch over the weekend in San Diego, but his presence on the
active roster is less about helping the team right now than it is about
going out with his boots on as opposed to the DL. If I’m Bruce Bochy I
let the Big Unit finish his career high-fiving his catcher and
teammates.

Pirates vs. Cubs: Postponed: It’s harder to lose 100 games if you only play 161!

Report: Chase Utley’s family received death threats from Mets fans after controversial slide

DENVER, CO - APRIL 22:  Chase Utley #26 of the Los Angeles Dodgers warms up onthe on deck circle as he prepares to take an at bat against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field on April 22, 2016 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the Dodgers 7-5. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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Even before Chase Utley broke former Mets shortstop Ruben Tejada‘s leg with a slide during the playoffs last year, the second baseman was persona non grata in New York. Utley, playing for the rival Phillies, made the right field corner his — literally — with his performance at Citi Field. He was booed during his introduction at Yankee Stadium before the 2009 All-Star Game, prompting him to say audibly, “Boo? F— you.”

The slide put New York’s hatred of Utley into overdrive. Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports that after Utley broke Tejada’s leg, his family received death threats from angry Mets fans. In order to protect himself and his family, Utley didn’t stay at the team hotel after Game 2 of the NLDS.

His teammate, Clayton Kershaw, wasn’t happy with the way Utley was treated. He said, “Chase was playing the game the way he’s always played. Obviously you never want anybody to get hurt. The game being in the playoffs, and all that stuff, magnified everything. But there’s been a whole lot of slides a lot worse than that over the course of baseball [history] . . . Some of the stuff he had to go through, it wasn’t fair.”

The Mets host the Dodgers for a three-game series beginning on Friday. As McCullough notes, the two clubs didn’t get into any retaliation business when they played each other in Los Angeles earlier this month.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Thursday evening’s action

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 15:  Joe Ross #41 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the third inning during a baseball game against the Miami Marlins at Nationals Park on May 15, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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Early Thursday afternoon treated us to a pair of games: Diamondbacks/Pirates and Marlins/Rays. We have an abbreviated slate from the late afternoon onwards, with only six contests.

Let’s use this opportunity to talk about Nationals starter Joe Ross, who will take on the Cardinals in the opener of a four-game home series beginning at 7:05 PM EDT tonight. Ross will oppose Mike Leake.

With Stephen Strasburg off to a great start and having signed a seven-year, $175 million extension, and with Max Scherzer having authored just the fifth nine-inning 20-strikeout game, it’s understandable why Ross hasn’t made headlines. The brother of Padres starter Tyson Ross, Joe has put up a 2.70 ERA with a 37/15 K/BB ratio in 46 2/3 innings spanning eight starts thus far. Only 19 qualified starters across baseball have put up a better ERA than Ross.

Ross was rated one of baseball’s top-100 prospects entering last season and he proved why, as he pitched well in 13 starts and a trio of relief outings following his promotion on June 6. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, featuring a fastball that averages 92 MPH. He compliments that with a slider and a change-up. Ross has good command of the strike zone and mixes up his pitches well enough to keep hitters off balance. He turned 23 years old last Saturday, so he has plenty of time to get even better.

The Cardinals, though, will be a hard match-up for Ross. They’re averaging 5.43 runs per game, a mark bested only by the Cubs (5.61) and one which is more than a full run per game above the league average (4.28).

The rest of Thursday’s action…

Toronto Blue Jays (J.A. Happ) @ New York Yankees (CC Sabathia), 4:05 PM EDT

St. Louis Cardinals (Mike Leake) @ Washington Nationals (Joe Ross), 7:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) @ Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz), 7:10 PM EDT

Milwaukee Brewers (Wily Peralta) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler), 7:10 PM EDT

Baltimore Orioles (Kevin Gausman) @ Houston Astros (Lance McCullers), 8:10 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Miguel Gonzalez) @ Kansas City Royals (Danny Duffy), 8:15 PM EDT

Major League Baseball issues a statement about the Padres national anthem thing

SAN DIEGO - APRIL 06:  The grounds crew works on the field before the start of the game between the Colorado Rockies and the San Diego Padres during Opening Night at Petco Park on April 6, 2007 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
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I figured the last word on the Padres National Anthem thing came the other day when everyone seemed to apologize to everyone else and ask for fired people to be rehired and all of that stuff. But no, it appears that there is more.

A coda anyway. From Major League Baseball which apparently used its Department of Investigations to suss everything out about the whole affair. And here you thought all they did was walk a questionable ethical line when investigating drug use.

Anyway, here is their statement. One more false ending to this thing and I’ll feel like we’re in a sequel to the movie “Clue.” Which is massively underrated, by the way. Tim Curry’s second-best movie, easily, and Lesley Ann Warren’s absolute best.

The statement:

Major League Baseball announced today that it has completed its investigation into the unfortunate events of Saturday, May 21st, when members of the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus had been scheduled to perform the Star-Spangled Banner before the Padres’ “Pride Night” home game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Petco Park.  The review, which was conducted by MLB’s Department of Investigations, included a dozen interviews with individuals who were involved in the situation.

The Department of Investigations has concluded that the San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus has performed the Star-Spangled Banner multiple times before a Padres game; that Saturday’s regrettable situation was a product of human error; that the situation was exacerbated by the fact that the lead entertainment supervisor was involved in a car accident on Friday night and thus was unable to work on Saturday and handle his typical responsibilities; that employees involved in the matter were handling new duties with which they were insufficiently familiar; and that the employees involved had no malicious intentions and, in fact, universally relayed contrition for how the incident unfolded and the adverse impression that it created.

MLB received the full cooperation of Padres management, which expressed its deepest apologies.  MLB believes that the Padres’ efforts to remedy the situation, including its invitation to the Chorus to return to a future game to perform the National Anthem, are appropriate and has every expectation that the Club’s longstanding record of inclusion will be evident in the future. 

 

A-Rod off the disabled list and back in the Yankees lineup

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez watches his RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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Alex Rodriguez has been activated from the disabled list and will be batting fifth in his return to the Yankees lineup this evening.

A-Rod has been on the DL since May 4 with a strained right hamstring. He was off to a slow start this year but began to slowly heat up just before going down with the injury. Overall he’s He’s hitting .194 with five home runs in 20 games.

It’s hard growing old. Partially because of the injuries. Partially because jerks remind you of things like the fact that you went 3-for-5 with a solo homer in a loss against the Royals on the day the Dodgers starting pitcher for tomorrow night’s game was born.

Anyway, welcome back A-Rod.