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.

Settling the Scores: Tuesday’s results

CLEVELAND, OH -  JULY 26: The Cleveland Indians celebrate after Francisco Lindor #12 of the Cleveland Indians hit a walk-off RBI single to defeat the Washington Nationals at Progressive Field on July 26, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. The Indians defeated the Nationals 7-6. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images
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The Nationals took a 6-4 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning at Progressive Field on Tuesday night against the Indians, but Jonathan Papelbon couldn’t hold on.

Gio Gonzalez put together 6 1/3 solid innings, ultimately yielding three runs (two earned) on five hits and a pair of walks with four strikeouts. Even better, the Nats’ offense chased Indians starter and AL All-Star Danny Salazar after four innings.

Papelbon walked Jose Ramirez to kick off the bottom half of the ninth, then served up an RBI double to Tyler Naquin to make it a 6-5 game. Chris Gimenez moved Naquin to third base with a sacrifice bunt, but first baseman Ryan Zimmerman‘s throw to second baseman Daniel Murphy went wide, allowing Naquin to score and Gimenez to advance to second base. The Nats opted to then intentionally walk Lonnie Chisenhall. With Rajai Davis batting, third baseman Anthony Rendon charged towards the plate as he reacted to Davis bunting, but the bunt ended up going over Rendon’s head, loading the bases for Jason Kipnis. Nats manager Dusty Baker brought in lefty Oliver Perez with a lefty followed by a switch-hitter due up.

Kipnis lined out, giving the Nationals light at the end of the tunnel. Francisco Lindor squelched that with a game-winning RBI single to right field, securing the come-from-behind 7-6 victory for the Tribe. The win halts the Indians’ three-game losing skid, improving their record to 57-41. They are 5.5 games ahead of the second-place Tigers in the AL Central now.

Box scores.

Tigers 9, Red Sox 8
Cardinals 3, Mets 2 (Game 1)
Mets 3, Cardinals 1 (Game 2)
Athletics 6, Rangers 3
Marlins 5, Phillies 0
Yankees 6, Astros 3
Brewers 9, Diamondbacks 4
Giants 9, Reds 7
Angles 13, Royals 0
Rockies 6, Orioles 3
Mariners 7, Pirates 4
Blue Jays 7, Padres 6 (12 innings)
White Sox 3, Cubs 0
Indians 7, Nationals 6
Braves 2, Brewers 0
Dodgers 3, Rays 2

Chapman has trouble remembering convo with Cubs management about off-field behavior

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CHICAGO — Star closer Aroldis Chapman joined the Cubs on Tuesday, arriving to a mixed reaction in Chicago and saying he couldn’t remember what management told him about off-field expectations and behavior.

After Chapman’s awkward introductory news conference, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein insisted Chapman understands what the Cubs expect of him after an offseason domestic violence incident.

When the Cubs announced the trade with the New York Yankees on Monday, the team released a statement from Chairman Tom Ricketts saying they were aware of his 29-game suspension to begin the season under Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy.

Ricketts said he and Epstein talked by phone with Chapman before the deal was completed and “shared with him the high expectations we set for our players,” adding that Chapman was “comfortable” with them.

But when asked repeatedly about that phone conversation before Tuesday’s game against the crosstown White Sox, Chapman said through an interpreter that he couldn’t recall details because he was taking a nap at the time the call came in.

The question was asked several more times. A Cubs spokesman once asked the question himself to the interpreter, coach Henry Blanco.

“It’s been a long day,” Chapman said. “Trying to remember.”

Asked again several minutes later during the group interview if he could now remember what Ricketts said, Chapman shook his head.

“I still don’t remember,” he said in Spanish.

Epstein called it a misunderstanding and that Chapman was “pretty nervous” as he faced seven cameras and more than two dozen reporters.

“I was on the call, Tom was on the call, Aroldis was on the call and Barry Praver, his agent, was on the call. It happened and it was real,” Epstein said before the Cubs’ 3-0 loss to the White Sox.

Chapman was accused of choking his girlfriend and firing eight gunshots in the garage of a Florida home in October. The woman later changed her story and no charges were filed.

“You learn from the mistakes that you make,” Chapman said.

The case caused the Los Angeles Dodgers to back out of an offseason trade for Chapman. Cincinnati eventually traded him to the Yankees, and after his suspension, the 28-year-old Cuban converted 20 of 21 save chances for New York.

The Cubs have long boasted of stocking their roster with high-character players, helping earn the “lovable losers” label they’ve carried for decades since their last World Series title in 1908.

But the Cubs (59-40) have retooled their roster under Epstein and have the best record in the major leagues despite Tuesday’s loss in which Chapman didn’t pitch. Chapman, who threw a 105 mph fastball last week, fills perhaps the team’s largest hole as he replaces Hector Rondon as closer.

The Cubs sent four players to the Yankees, including shortstop prospect Gleyber Torres, to get one of the game’s top relievers. Epstein said they wouldn’t have made the deal if not for the phone call he and Ricketts had with Chapman.

“Tom laid out the exact same standards that he lays out to everyone in spring training,” Epstein said. “He said, extremely clearly, `Look, Aroldis, I tell all the players this in spring training and it’s important you hear it and I need to hear from you on this. We expect our players to behave. We hold our players to a very high standard for their behavior off the field. And we need to know you can meet that standard.’

“Aroldis said `I understand. Absolutely, I can.'”

The Cubs activated Chapman before Tuesday’s game and designated left-hander Clayton Richard for assignment.

Reaction to Chapman’s acquisition in Chicago has been tepid. While there were supportive fans on talk radio, the Chicago Tribune carried a front-page column Tuesday criticizing the move. The back of the Chicago Sun-Times tabloid read “Spin City” over a picture of Epstein.

Chapman said he expected a “good reaction” from Cubs fans. He was also asked during the 20-minute meeting with reporters in the visiting dugout at U.S. Cellular Field if we would consider working with organizations looking to prevent domestic violence. Chapman said no.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon defended Chapman.

“He did do a suspension, he has talked about it, he’s shown remorse,” Maddon said. “Everybody else has the right to judge him as a good or bad person. That’s your right.

I want to get to know Aroldis. I think he could be a very significant member and he’s got the potential, yes, to throw the last out of the World Series. And if he does, I promise you I will embrace him.”