And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Hubbard rubbing head.jpgPadres 17, Braves 2:  Er, um, yeah. I’m going to pretend that this was just an 8-2 game or something like it, because really, once Bobby Cox decided to let Jo-Jo Reyes mop up the game was already lost and the actual stats mere details. But enough about the Braves deplorable performance. Let’s talk about Kyle Blanks, who is young and exciting and has a future and everything. He went 3 for 5 with a double a homer and five RBIs. And let’s talk about the Padres overall offense which scored the most runs of any team in the history of Petco, which count even if it was Jo-Joe spreading the accelerant on the tinder. And it’s not like this was just an offensive beating by the Padres. Starter Kevin Correia and relievers Edward Mujica and Adam Russell kept the Braves to four hits, which makes this a well-rounded butt-whuppin’.

Twins 5, Red Sox 2: Aaron has all the coverage you need of this one, including first impressions of how the new park plays. I watched it on TV from the NBC offices which, appropriately enough, have HD TVs with the Extra Innings package set up at every work station in the joint. If the law firm had that I never would have left.

Rays 5, Orioles 1: Matt Garza hurled eight innings of one-run ball to a 1-6 Orioles team in front of 9,129 fans which was a record low for Baltimore since they moved into Camden Yards. Shocking to me this early in the season given that this team is supposed to have hope and promise and all of that. Carl Crawford was 4 for 4 with a homer.

Cardinals 5, Astros 0:  In the power rankings yesterday I asked whether the Astros were really as bad as their record. Answer: yeah, seems like it, as they were shut out for the third time in seven games. Pujols hit a three-run bomb and an RBI single. Ryan Ludwick went 4 for 4. Adam Wainwright blanked the Astros for eight innings. Mark McGwire got a standing O from a record crowd for the Cardinals in new Busch. All-in-all it was a special Opening Day. At least for the home team.

Athletics 4, Mariners 0: Not such a nice home opener for the Mariners, who were blanked on two hits and are now off to their worst start in six years. Randy Johnson threw out the first pitch for the M’s. He was later asked to DH but declined because he didn’t want to be associated with such offensive ineptitude.

Phillies 7, Nationals 4: Philly lost Jimmy Rollins with a calf injury and lost Jayson Werth with a sore hip, but they triumphed all the same because apparently nothing can keep these guys down. Jason Marquis allowed seven runs and six hits in 4.1 innings and could have followed up this bummer of a game with a steak as big as a toilet seat at the Palm. Meanwhile, Stephen Strasburg is on a bus somewhere with a stop for lunch at an Eat-N-Park in his immediate future.  These wrongs will be righted sometime this summer.

White Sox 8, Blue Jays 7: Andruw Jones had two homers and an RBI single. Think maybe he’ll get more starts in left? He certainly helped bail Jake Peavy out (5.2 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 3 BB). But the real hero was Mark Teahen who tied it up with a homer in the 9th and won it with a triple in the 11th.

Cubs 9, Brewers 5: A five spot in the third courtesy of homers from Jeff Baker and Xavier Nady and a three spot in the fourth courtesy of a Derrick Lee single and an Aramis Ramirez homer put this one out of reach for the Cubs’ home opener. Thirteen hits for a team who, coming into this game, was collectively below the Mendoza Line. Doug Davis was supposed to have been brought in to stabilize the rotation. Instead his first two starts have been Suppanriffic.

Rangers 4, Indians 2: Nelson Cruz hit his 5th homer of the year to put the Rangers up 4-2 in the 10th. Cruz tripled as well. Neftali Feliz got the save, throwing three 100+ m.p.h. pitches. I can’t help but think that Nolan Ryan, of all people, would appreciate that a man who throws that kind of gas should be starting games. From the game story: “Hall of Famer Bob Feller, 91, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to
former Indians catcher Sandy Alomar, seems like he’s 91, now Cleveland’s first base coach.”  At least I think I got that quote right.

Royals 10, Tigers 5: I was watching this one at the office before the Twins game came on. The guy working at the desk across from me owns Max Scherzer in a fantasy league and wasn’t pleased about the results. In non-sports-related offices you have to get frustrated at your fantasy team clandestinely and then suck it up and get on with life. When you work for a company that runs, like, the biggest fantasy site on the web and which puts TVs all over the place for the express purpose of watching ballgames during the day, your frustration can flow more freely. In other news, yesterday Rob Neyer said “I don’t want to see the Royals and the Tigers playing four-hour games
someday.” This one was 3:26.

Reds 6, Marlins 5: The Scott Rolen show: he homered twice and drove in the winning run in the 10th inning. Jorge Cantu hit a two-run double, extending  his carry-this-freakin’-team streak to “all season.”  Official gate was 10,000+. There were actually about 3,000 souls in the park. 2,700 of those were octogenarians who thought it was still the 1960s and mistook this for an Orioles spring training game. When informed that the Orioles haven’t trained in Miami for over 20 years they said “No, I can’t have hot dogs. They give me gas.”

Giants 9, Pirates 3: Like I’ve always said, with a one-two punch like Bengie Molina (4 for 4, 2B, HR, 4 RBI) and Barry Zito (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER), there’s really no stopping this Giants team.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.