And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Pujols homer.jpgBrewers 8, Cardinals 7: I’m in the tri-state area today meeting NBC folks, planning for the future, talking about the State of the Blog, but mostly just convincing them that they’re entrusting their baseball coverage to a real person and not an android or one kid standing on another kid’s shoulders wearing a long overcoat or something. I missed the beginning of this one due to my flight and the ride up to where I’m staying (more on this below), but I caught the bulk of it while sucking down beers and eating a wrap* and stuff at Bobby Valentine’s bar.

Not a big crowd — you’ll be shocked to know that Stamford, Connecticut doesn’t exactly hop on a Sunday night — but it was fun watching a wild one in a (mostly) baseball bar with a bunch of baseball fans. For the record: the crowd seemed to feel more bad for Trevor Hoffman’s meltdown in the ninth than they were impressed by Pujols’ and Holliday’s dingers. When Casey McGhee hit his walkoff winner there was much rejoicing, despite the fact not a person in the place was a Brewers’ fan.

*Bobby Valentine claims he invented the wrap. I’m highly dubious, but I felt obligated to order one anyway. It was an OK wrap. Nothin’ special, but I’ll give it a guarded thumbs-up based on the arguable historic value of it all and the good overall juju of the evening.

Diamondbacks 15, Pirates 6: The Dbacks pull the old “score 13 runs in the fourth inning trick.” One of the oldest ones in the book, really, but it almost always works. The Pirates’ Daniel McCutchen was responsible for most of the damage. “That’s probably the worst [inning] I’ve had,” he said after the game. Probably? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it was.  What else say you, Mr. McCutchen? “I wish I would have been more mentally strong and stayed within myself a
little more.”  I’m going to go out on another limb here and say that getting shellacked like that probably takes some physical deficiencies too (i.e. throwing pure garbage), so McCutcheon should probably take it easy on his staywithinhimselfability.

Phillies 2, Astros 1: A dominating outing from Roy Halladay (CG 7 H, 0 ER, 8K, 0 BB). But two minor caveats here: (1) The Astros couldn’t hit the water if they fell out of a boat (on the season they’ve scored as many runs as the Dbacks did in the fourth inning yesterday); and (2) The fact that the unearned run Halladay gave up was unearned because of his own damn error shows you just how ridiculous the earned/unearned rules are. In a fair and just world Halladay and any other pitcher who does that should be charged with the run.

Tigers 9, Indians 8: The Tigers had no business winning this game. They trailed by four heading into their half of the eighth and they stranded eighteen (18) runners, but with the Indians’ bullpen all things are possible. In this case, a bases loaded walk and then a wild pitch by Chris Perez is what was possible. Gerald Laird snapped his 0-17 to start the season, which if it had happened in Boston the city would be on lockdown. Justin Verlander said this after the game: “The Indians have a great team, and you have to make good pitches to get
them out.” Justin. We are men of action. Lies do not become us.

Giants 6, Braves 3: Rain delay: four hours, nine minutes. Game time: two hours, twenty minutes. I haven’t seen so many people being paid to just sit around all afternoon since I left my job at the state last November.  Jason Heyward hit a home run for the second game in a row, but his errant throw home in the sixth — which bounced off Pablo Sandoval’s generous thigh and ricocheted halfway to Bakersfield allowing two to score — basically canceled it out. Tim Lincecum struck out ten and walked one. I think there was an elderly woman floating in a raft somewhere near the Oceanic pole of inaccessibility who had not yet been convinced of his greatness, but when she received news of this game via ham radio she just threw up her arms and said “Screw it. That boy is something else.”

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2: The good news: Mike Gonzalez did not blow this game for the Orioles. The bad news: Miguel Tejada’s o-lay job in the eighth basically did, allowing the Jays to hit lead-forfeiting back-to-back homers when they should have been out on defense. Of course, in Tejada’s defense, Millwood still hung those breaking balls to give up the homers, so the mere fact that three of the four runs he gave up were “unearned” doesn’t totally absolve him of all sin.

Athletics 9, Angels 4: Mark Ellis got the day off and Adam Rosales made the most of it, driving in four runs, one of which came on a solo dinger. Rosales is a rather amped-up kind of guy, and his teammates took notice of that fact after he finished what can only be called his home run sprint as opposed to a trot: “He’s someone who
probably needs to take a nap . . .
he plays like he hasn’t
slept in four days
. . . he doesn’t know any other speed.”  I wonder if Rosales is related to the guy who drove me from LaGuardia to my hotel last night. I don’t consider myself a timid soul when it comes to the roads, but at one point on I-95 near the Connecticut state line we passed what looked like a horrific accident in the southbound lane, which was followed by miles of gridlock. For the first time in my life I envied people stuck in gridlock. Seriously, this dude was like Captain Chaos or something.

Rangers 9, Mariners 2: Scott Feldman gave up one earned run in seven innings (not his error, though, so I don’t mind citing it), lowering the Rangers’ rotation’s ERA to 1.67, which is the best in baseball. This is obviously not your older brothers’ Rangers team.  Well, the part where they scored a bunch of runs is, anyway. Either way, the fact that, bullpen woes notwithstanding, the Rangers have maintained last year’s great leap forward in pitching is a good sign in the early going. As is the fact that Vladimir Guerrero is hitting .500.

Red Sox 8, Royals 6: Pedroia went 4 for 5 with a homer and the rest of the Sox joined in pounding Gil Meche (3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 ER). The offense was needed as Clay Buchholz labored, with his line (5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER) looking far more impressive than his actual pitching did. As Drew noted yesterday, Jacoby Ellsbury hurt his ribs when Adrian Beltre collided with them, but he looks like he’s going to be OK sooner rather than later.

Rockies 4, Padres 2: Ubaldo Jiminez allowed two runs and seven hits while striking out seven, the day after these two teams played 14 innings. Nice bounce back for Colorado, who clearly had better supplies of Red Bull or Mountain Dew whatever it the kids take these days now that the pep pills aren’t allowed.

White Sox 5, Twins 4: J.J. Hardy was thrown out at home to end it and the Twins twice gave up two-run leads, but no one is going to be thinking about this much today given that it’s Happy New Ballpark Day in Minnesota.

Yankees 7, Rays 3: I can’t decide if I hate the Tropicana roof more or if I hate the blue Rays’ blue Sunday jerseys more. They’re both pretty heinous, truth be told.  The Yankees got bent out of shape when Evan Longoria’s single bouncing off a catwalk, but given that they just went 4-2 on the road against the Rays and Red Sox in the first week of the season, I think they’ll chill out about it.

Reds 3, Cubs 1: Wild thing, I think you move me.  Mike Leake’s debut: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 7 BB.  Yes, seven, and a wild pitch on top of it. He somehow survived, and went 2 for 2 at the plate to boot. His biggest trouble came in the first inning. I’ll let Lou Piniella describe it for us: “We had the bases loaded and the meat part of our lineup coming up, and
the kid wiggled out of it.”  Meat part?

Nationals 5, Mets 2: I got a good view of Citi Field out the window of my plane as it landed yesterday. It was only slightly more lifeless at 8PM as it was earlier in the day. A grand slam and an RBI double for Josh Willingham took care of all the Nats’ offense. The homer was great, though. Because the umps initially said the ball was in play, Adam Dunn, who had been on first, came barreling into Rod Barajas at the plate. The call was overturned on review, which meant that Dunn barreled a guy over on a homer. He should just start doing that even on his own home runs. Know what else was cool? Seven shutout innings from Livan Hernandez. Of course whether you find that cool or not probably depends on how much you care for the Mets.

Marlins 6, Dodgers 5: A double and a home run led to five RBI for Jorge Cantu. The Dodgers led 4-0 at one point. Dodgers’ starter Charlie Haeger has 12 Ks in six innings. He’s also a knuckleballer. 2:1 K:IP ratios and knuckleballers are both pretty cool things, even in defeat.

Ron Darling rips Mets trainers after yet another player goes down with an injury

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Last night starter Robert Gsellman became the latest Mets player to go down with an injury when he strained his hamstring while running out a ground ball. He’s certain to go on the disabled list, making him the sixth Mets starter to go down this year. He’ll join Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler, Juan Lagares, Neil Walker, Matt Harvey, David Wright, Jeurys Familia and many, many other Mets on the DL.

Mets broadcaster Ron Darling is fed up with it. Last night, after Gsellman went down, he went off on the Mets trainers, who he believes to be enabling all of this:

“[These] trainers, get them in a room with some of the old trainers and people that took care of baseball players and how to keep them healthy. And get them in a room and try to tap into their knowledge on how you train baseball players — not weightlifters, not six-pack wearers — baseball players. They’re doing a disservice to their million-dollar athletes that they’re paying. It’s a joke to watch this happen each and every night.”

Here’s video of his rant:

Darling is certainly tapping into a frustration a lot of Mets fans feel. For years the Mets injury issues have vexed the fanbase, less so for the sheer number of them — other teams have had more DL trips for their players — than for the manner in which they were handled and/or discussed by the team. They’ve often been loathe to use the disabled list even when it makes sense to and have, at times, run guys out to play despite there being serious red flags which would counsel most teams from doing so.

But is he right about why the players are getting injured? It’s a commonly held bit of conventional wisdom that players using weight training and being muscular makes them more brittle, but I’m unaware of any science that backs that up (if you have some, please pass it along, I’d genuinely be interested in reading it). Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t, but Darling seems so certain about it.

He could be right. But I also suspect that Darling may be falling prey to some back-in-my-dayism that retired players often exhibit. Are players getting injured more or are they merely being diagnosed better? Are they getting more seriously injured, or are they just taken out of action more quickly rather than be left to play through injuries like so many old timers have claimed they had to back in the 50s, 60s and 70s? Fireballers used to try to hang on as junkballers after suffering elbow injuries that today would send a guy to surgery. There was a much greater tolerance for lumbering slow dudes who might take it easy with a bad hammy as opposed to getting shut down now.

None of which is to say that Darling is wrong, necessarily. Like I said, maybe there is something to the idea that weight training and musculature makes a player more brittle. But I am always loathe to nod along with an old player who says the science and medicine surrounding sports has regressed compared to where it was back in his day. It may be true, but it’s counterintuitive given how science and medicine usually work. And when you offer a counterintuitive take like that, I think you need more evidence than your frustration at an injury occurring in front of you in real time.

Bryce Harper is pretty clearly messing with people

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Not too long ago some rumors popped up about Bryce Harper wanting to sign with the Cubs when he hits free agency following the 2018 season. Such rumors are sort of silly this far out — and they almost always tend to be non-predictive of where the player eventually goes — but they tend to get folks excited or concerned, depending on who they root for.

With the Cubs in town to face the Nationals, Harper was asked about those rumors again. He wisely dismissed them, saying he had no idea where that stuff comes from. Which is what someone in his position should say.

Not that he’s not going to have some fun with it. Check out his Instagram post with friend Kris Bryant. Specifically, check out the hashtag:

#Back2BackOneDay is, of course, an implication that he’d be hitting behind Bryant in the same batting order.

Harper is no idiot. He’s not going to use social media, in the middle of a season, two seasons before he could even potentially play elsewhere, to send genuine signals about wanting to leave the Nationals and join the Cubs. He’s just messing with the rumormongers. As he TOTALLY SHOULD by the way, because rumormongers deserve to be messed with.

Not that the rumormongers won’t take this a genuine evidence of his intent. The rumormongers aren’t big on subtle humor.