And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Torrealba dropping popup.jpgDodgers 1, Padres 0: The Dodgers sweep the West-leading Padres despite being two-hit. Maybe
I’m being overly pessimistic, but I’m starting to get the feeling that
you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look west, and with the
right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that
place where the Padres’ wave finally broke and rolled back.

Reds 7, Cardinals 2: “Their hitters were on, their pitcher was on. They just beat us,” Tony La Russa said after the game, declining to offer some lame, hair-splitting excuse or citation to some obscure rule or custom following a loss for the first time since anyone can recall. The Reds win for the eighth time in ten games and are now in first place
in the NL Central. It’s the first time a team other than the Cardinals
has held that slot since last July.

Giants 4, Astros 3: According to the game story, several Astros’ players
walked the two miles from their team hotel to AT&T Park when taxis
refused to drive around the hubub caused by the annual Bay to Breakers foot
race
. He’ll deny it until the cows come home, but I have it on
pretty good authority that Brett Myers joined in with the runners for
three-quarters of a mile wearing buttless leather pants, as is the
custom for many of the race’s participants.

Twins 6, Yankees 3: You don’t see the Yankees suffer a bullpen implosion like this very often, as Joba loaded the bases and Rivera walked one in and then allowed a grand slam to Jason Kubel. Thank God Javier Vazquez is being sent down to the pen to help those amateurs out.

Tigers 5, Red Sox 1: Neither John Lackey nor the Boston bats were very sharp yesterday, with the former allowing nine hits and walking four, and the latter mustering only seven hits of their own. A two-run homer for Ramon Santiago may be even more rare than that Yankees bullpen implosion.

Angels 4, Athletics 0: Remember over the winter when everyone was not signing Joel Piniero because, um, well, I can’t really remember why, but I’m sure they were very good reasons (CG, SHO, 1 BB, 5K).

Rockies 2, Nationals 1: Jeff Francis didn’t get the win but he was the man of the day, allowing one run on seven hits over seven. Most of the seven hits weren’t all that hard, either. If Colorado is going to shake off the cobwebs and jump into this race, Francis’ return to form will be necessary.

Royals 5, White Sox 3: Brian Bannister after his win: “It was a good enough outing, not a great outing. I
was savvy. I always try to be savvy.”  I can’t decide if that quote is awesome or lame.

Cubs 4, Pirates 3: The Pirates bullpen has actually done a pretty spiffy job of protecting the late leads they have had, but they didn’t do it yesterday, walking dudes and throwing pitches in the dirt and stuff. Xavier Nady had the game winning hit.

Rays 2, Mariners 1: Cliff Lee took a 1-0 lead into the seventh having allowed only two hits, but then doubles by B.J. Upton and Sean Rodriguez tied it and an eighth inning Carl Crawford triple + sac fly gave the Rays the win. Tough luck loss for Lee, who struck out ten.

Braves 13, Diamondbacks 1: Martin Prado went crazy, going 4 for 6 with two homers, as the Braves offense continues to wake up from its season-long slumber. Nice day for Tim Hudson who, while he’s been doing OK, hadn’t been striking out too many fellas. I’ll take six Ks in eight innings against one walk, though.

Indians 5, Orioles 1: Jake Westbrook has won two in a row, allowing only two runs in fifteen innings. Sure, those were against the Royals and Orioles, but you figure a couple of the GMs to whom the Indians will be offering Westbrook this summer will fail to realize that.

Marlins 10, Mets 8: A day on which good fundamental baseball laid down and died for the Mets results in their fifth straight loss and seventh of eight. Chris Coghlan pinch hit in the seventh inning and fouled off six two-strike pitches before hitting a three-run jack which is always fun. Jonathan Niese hurt his hamstring, which is scary considering he needed surgery on it last year. 

Blue Jays 5, Rangers 2: Brandon Morrow on the mechanical flaw he fixed prior to this game: “When I’m really bad mechanically, like I was in Boston, I have a
tendency to break down on my back side and become really rotational and
spin open.”  I hate it when that happens.

Phillies 4, Brewers 2: Six straight losses at home for the Brew Crew. On the bright side, this is the only one of those six losses that was even remotely close.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.