And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Vernon Wells homer.jpgBlue Jays 3, Rangers 1: On the scale of unexpected and dramatic comebacks, Vernon Wells starting the season with four homers in three games falls somewhere south of Bruce Wayne donning the cape and cowl after a decade in retirement in The Dark Knight Returns, but somewhere north of Steely Dan releasing “Two Against Nature” in 2000. On a related note, Ricky [Romero] had the Rangers’ number all night, allowing only one run in seven innings. Cito Gaston probably didn’t have to call nobody else, but he used Casey Janssen and Jason Frasor anyway.

Athletics 6, Mariners 2: Hot start for Oakland, as they take three of four from M’s.  Six innings of shutout ball for Brett Anderson, four RBI for Daric Barton and, as Matthew pointed out last night, some interesting defensive choices for the Mariners in the eighth inning all contributed to the win. Only thing I don’t get about that play is that since the catcher used his mask to scoop up the ball, why were Travis Buck and Cliff Pennington only awarded one base each? Rule 7.05(b) clearly states that baserunners in such instances are to be awarded three bases. Anyone have any ideas?

Reds 2, Cardinals 1: Pretty much covered this one as it ended yesterday afternoon. But since then I’ve been provided a verbatim transcript of the meeting which took place just prior to Jonny Gomes’ walkoff home run.

Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue calls for an offspeed pitch. Jason Motte shakes him off:

LaRue: Why you shaking me off?
Motte: I wanta throw the heater to announce my presence with authority.
LaRue: “To announce your f—— presence with authority”?  This guy’s a first ball fastball hitter.  He’s looking for heat.
Motte:  But he ain’t seen my heat.
LaRue: [sighs, then smirks] Awright, meat, give him your heat.


Nationals 6, Phillies 5:  A Willie Harris home run off Kyle Kendrick put the Nats up 5-2 in the fourth inning, but Philly came back to tie it up with two runs in the fifth and one in the sixth. But then new arrival Nelson Figueroa came in and gave up a walk and then a bloop RBI double that proved to be the difference in the Nats’ victory.  “Quail ball,” Charlie Manuel antiquatedly called it, doing absolutely nothing to disprove my hypothesis that Manuel was sent to our time from 1946 in some time-travel experiment connected to Operation Paper Clip or something. I love Charlie, but you gotta admit, the guy’s a living Burma Shave add.

Cubs 2, Braves 0: Randy Wells and four relievers shut the Braves out, allowing three hits to Martin Prado and two to Troy Glaus, but utterly flummoxing everyone else. At least until the ninth when Eric Hinske almost, but not quite, hit a walkoff three run homer. But you know they say about where close counts. Tommy Hanson wasn’t terrible for Atlanta, but the two hits he gave up in the early going were both the kind that went over the fence. Jason Heyward went 0 for 4 and looked like some young kid or something striking out on three pitches from Carlos Marmol in the ninth. Such is the way of the world when you’re 20.  Chipper Jones strained his oblique and will miss 2-3 days. Such is the way of the world when you’re Chipper Jones.

Dodgers 10, Pirates 2: In that stupid T.J. Simers article that suckered me yesterday, Simers wrote that Ronnie Belliard was “hired by the Dodgers to laugh at Manny’s jokes, allow Manny to ignore
his other teammates and talk trash about reporters in Spanish so the
reporters won’t know what he’s saying.”  He is apparently also there to go 3-5 with a double, triple, homer and four RBI when he’s spelling Casey Blake at third. Every Dodgers position player — five of whom were second stringers — got a hit. The first five guys in the lineup each had multiple hits.

Orioles 5, Rays 4: Brian Matusz’s targeting systems were malfunctioning (five walks) but he muddled through on manual and got the win.  Rays’ starter Jeff Niemann left the game in the second when a comebacker caught his shoulder. Matt Wieters is hitting .500 through his first three games. 

Tigers 7, Royals 3: Dontrelle Willis is back (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4K). Spectacular? No. But we’ll all settle for competent. Fellow former Marlin Miquel Cabrera was more than competent, going 4 for 5 with a three-run homer and an RBI single. Alberto Callaspo stranded nine runners all by himself in this one, hitting into two double plays and striking out with two men on in his first three at bats and then grounding out with the bases loaded in the eighth.

Marlins 3, Mets 1: Nice outing for Jonathon Neise (6 IP, 8H, 3 ER) but Nate Robertson was better (5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).

Twins 10, Angels 1: A big question for the Twins this season was how to work Jim Thome, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young through two positions and still give everyone at bats. No worries: just beat the tar out of someone and they all get a chance: Kubel got the start in left and had an RBI single, Thome DH’d and went 2-4 with a three-run homer and Young subbed in for Kubel late and hit a three-run homer of his own. Problem solved!  As for the Angels, their two main offseaon additions — Joel Piniero and Fernando Rodney — combined to give up seven runs in seven innings. So there’s that.

Indians 5, White Sox 3: Good win for the Indians and all, and it’s nice that they’re 2-1, but as I heard someone say yesterday, when you have to say “the season’s only three games old, but . . .” it’s probably the kind of thing that you shouldn’t be saying anyway due to the meaninglessness of it all.

Rob Manfred wants a new, unnecessary rule to protect middle infielders


Commissioner Rob Manfred is at the Cards-Cubs game this afternoon and the sporting press just spoke with him about the fallout from the Chase Utley/Ruben Tejada play from the other night. Not surprising.

Also not surprising? Manfred’s desire to implement a new rule in an effort to prevent such a play from happening again. Or, at the very least, to allow for clear-cut punishment for someone who breaks it:

Which is ridiculous, as we already have Rule 6.05(m) on the books. That rule — which is as clear as Crystal Pepsi — says a baserunner is out when . . .

(m)A preceding runner shall, in the umpire’s judgment, intentionally interfere with a fielder who is attempting to catch a thrown ball or to throw a ball in an attempt to complete any play:

Rule 6.05(m) Comment: The objective of this rule is to penalize the offensive team for deliberate, unwarranted, unsportsmanlike action by the runner in leaving the baseline for the obvious purpose of crashing the pivot man on a double play, rather than trying to reach the base. Obviously this is an umpire’s judgment play.

That rule totally and completely covers the Utley-Tejada situation. The umpires were wrong for not enforcing it both then and in the past, but that’s the rule, just as good as any other rule in that book and in no way in need of replacement.

Why not just enforce that rule? What rule would “better protect” infielders than that one? What would do so in a more straightforward a manner? What could baseball possibly add to it which would make plays at second base less confusing rather than more so?

I suspect what Manfred is interested in here is some means to change this from a judgment call to a clear-cut rule. It was that impulse that led to the implementation of clocks for pitchers and batters and innings breaks rather than giving umpires the discretion to enforce existing pace-of-play rules. It was that impulse which led to a tripartite (or is it quadpartite?) means of determining whether a catcher impermissibly blocks the plate or a runner barrels him over rather than simply enforce existing base-blocking rules.

But taking rules out of the subjective realm and into the objective is difficult or downright impossible in many cases, both in law and in baseball. It’s almost totally impossible when intent is an element of the thing, as it is here. It’s likewise the case that, were there a clear and easy bright line to be established in service of a judgment-free rule on this matter, someone may have stumbled upon it once in the past, oh, 150 years. And maybe even tried to implement it. They haven’t, of course. Probably because there was no need, what with Rule 6.05(m) sitting up there all nice and tidy and an army of judgment-armed umpires standing ready to enforce it should they be asked to.

Unfortunately, Major League Baseball has decided that eschewing set rules in favor of new ones is better. Rules about the time batters and pitchers should take. Rules about blocking bases. Rules about how long someone should be suspended for a first time drug offense. Late Selig and Manfred-era Major League Baseball has decided, it seems, that anything 150 years of baseball can do, it can do better. Or at least newer and without the input of people in the judgment-passing business like umpires and arbitrators and the like.

Why can’t baseball send a memo to the umpires and the players over the winter saying the following:

Listen up:

That rule about running into fielders that you all have already agreed to abide by in your respective Collective Bargaining Agreements? We’re serious about it now and WILL be enforcing it. If you break it, players, you’re going to be in trouble. If you refuse to enforce it, umpires, you’re going to be in trouble. Understood? Good.


Bobby M.

If players complain, they complain. They don’t have a say about established rules. If, on the other hand, your process of making new rules is easier than your process of simply enforcing rules you already have, your system is messed up and we should be having a whole other conversation.

Anti-Chase Utley signs at Citi Field were brutal and hilarious

Chase Utley sign

Obviously Chase Utley was not the most popular figure in Citi Field last night. The fans booed him like crazy and chanted for him to make an appearance after the game got underway.

They made signs too. Lots and lots of signs. The one at the top of this article is the only one the Associated Press saw fit to grab a photo of, it seems. But there were more and, unlike that one, they were less than tame.

My favorite one was this one, held by a girl about my daughter’s age. It’s direct. It’s totally unequivocal. It gets the point across:

There’s no arguing with that. Utley could show up with a team of lawyers and after five minutes in front of this girl he’d be forced to admit, both orally and in writing, that, yes, he Buttley.

The New York Post categorizes many more of them here. Including one that didn’t make it into the park which said “Chase Utley [hearts] ISIS.” It was confiscated by Citi Field personnel. Why?

The sign, which actually used a “heart” drawing for loves, was confiscated by Citi Field security after she got inside Monday night. Culpepper was annoyed but gave a frank explanation.

“My guess is Isis doesn’t want to be associated with Chase Utley,” she said, calling him, “my least favorite player ever.”

Somebody call the burn unit.

NLDS, Game 4: Dodgers vs. Mets lineups

Clayton Kershaw

Here are the Dodgers and Mets lineups for Game 4 of the NLDS in New York:

CF Kike Hernandez
2B Howie Kendrick
1B Adrian Gonzalez
3B Justin Turner
SS Corey Seager
RF Yasiel Puig
C A.J. Ellis
LF Justin Ruggiano
SP Clayton Kershaw

With a left-hander on the mound for New York the Dodgers are stacking the lineup with right-handed bats, using an outfield of Yasiel Puig, Justin Ruggiano, and Kike Hernandez rather than Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Joc Pederson. Adrian Gonzalez and Corey Seager are the only lefty bats in the lineup. A.J. Ellis gets the start over Yasmani Grandal by virtue of being the personal catcher for Clayton Kershaw, who’s pitching on short rest.

RF Curtis Granderson
3B David Wright
2B Daniel Murphy
LF Yoenis Cespedes
C Travis d'Arnaud
1B Lucas Duda
SS Wilmer Flores
CF Juan Lagares
SP Steven Matz

Obviously facing Clayton Kershaw is much different than facing Brett Anderson, but they’re both lefties and manager Terry Collins is using the same lineup as Game 3 with one slight change: Travis d’Arnaud and Lucas Duda flipped in the batting order.