And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Marcus Thames celebrate.jpgYankees 11, Red Sox 9: Papelplosion.  The Yankees blew a 6-1 lead and found themselves down 9-7 nearly four hours and eight and a third innings into it when A-Rod hit a two-run homer to tie it and Marcus Thames hit a two-run homer to win it. Papelbon had a day off on Sunday, but one can’t help but wonder if that 2+ inning outing on Saturday night was still lingering in that right arm of his.

Rays 4, Indians 3: The game ended on a squeeze play in the 11th, which is pretty sweet. I didn’t see any of this, but I did watch their AAA teams play each other down in Columbus, with the Clippers beating the Durham Bulls 5-1 on the strength of a grand slam and a solo shot off the bat of Carlos Santana. That there is a young man who probably needs to be in the major leagues right now.  If you’re curious, here’s a picture of Columbus, Ohio’s Huntington Park with my bald head and sideburns, stage right, taken by Will.  Not bad for an iPhone.

Phillies 12, Pirates 2: I watched that Clippers-Bulls game with Baseball Prospectus’ Will Carroll, who was in town for Will Carrolly things. During the game I was complaining about Nate McLouth and made some reference to the trade with the Pirates that brought him to Atlanta in exchange for Charlie Morton. Will says something to the effect of “Morton throws hard.”  The score of this one flashed up on the out of town scoreboard. Then Will, after taking a thoughtful pull of his beer, says “didn’t say he threw well. Just hard.”

Padres 3, Giants 1: I guess the Padres just have the Giants’ number. That’s seven in a row this season for San Diego against the Giants.  Random game story factoid of the night: “Bruce Bochy, who still has an offseason home in suburban Poway, was
bummed because he might have to have his 16-year-old Labrador
euthanized.”

Diamondbacks 5, Marlins 1: Edwin Jackson is always good for pulling some otherworldly performance out of his back pocket amidst a string of terrible starts and last night was a fine example: eight shutout innings of 12-strikeout ball. Add Hanley Ramirez getting benched for not hustling after a ball he kicked out into the outfield and you have a night the Marlins would prefer to forget.

Reds 6, Brewers 3: Johnny Cueto follows up his one hitter with seven innings of one-run baseball (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 7K). From the game story: “A fan wearing a Reds batting helmet and a red shirt with a “1” on the
front danced in the second row behind the dugout when the team took the
field for warmups, yelling: “First place! First place! First place!” The
scoreboard made a point of emphasis to show the division standings,
drawing cheers.”  Glad to see Cincy acting like they’ve been there before. Sheesh.

Twins 8, Blue Jays 3: Justin Morneau went 3 for 4 with two homers a walk and four RBIs. Morneau is having an absolutely sick season, by the way. .375/.491/.710 with 11 homers and 29 RBI, which puts him on pace to [quickly figuring] . . . be totally awesome.

Mets 3, Braves 2: If you tell me that (a) the Mets are in town; and (b) Derek Lowe actually pitched OK, I would have bet between 50 and 75 dollars that the Braves would have won, but alas it was not to be. Mike Pelfrey had a good night and either bad luck or bad baserunning by the Braves got him out of a couple of jams that should have been more trouble than they were.

Rangers 4, Angels 3: Scott Kazmir gave up four runs and nine hits in seven innings in what was probably his best outing of the
season, even if it was in a losing cause. This was the first time these two teams have faced each other all year, which is rather astounding to me.

Cardinals 6, Nationals 2: The fact that the Cardinals scored four runs in the first inning probably means that Albert Pujols is going to be batting cleanup for the foreseeable future.

Royals 4, Orioles 3: An ugly game between bad teams in horrible weather. Ned Yost: “We have played the last three, four nights in muddy weather and it’s
been sloppy out there. I’m coming to find out we’re pretty
good mudders.”  I hear his mother was a mudder. Yeah, this baby loves the slop, loves it, eats it up. Eats the slop. Born
in the slop. His father was a mudder too.
 
Cubs 4, Rockies 2: A walkoff two-run homer for Aramis Ramirez in the bottom of the 11th.  Welcome to the party, pal.

Dodgers 6, Astros 2: John Ely has faced 84 guys in a row without walking anyone. Last night he threw first pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 guys he faced. Pitching coaches all over baseball are walking around their clubhouses today saying “why can’t you be more like Johnny?”

Athletics 8, Mariners 4: Gio Gonzalez on the Athletics breaking their five-game losing streak: “Sometimes I psych myself out. I didn’t even realize we
were in such a long losing streak.”  He later failed to add: “It feels ‘out there.’ A major rush.  I mean it doesn’t just feel ‘out there’ but it feels out there.”

White Sox vs. Tigers: Postponed:

Let the rain kiss
you.

Let the rain beat
upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you
a lullaby.

The rain makes still
pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes
running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a
little sleep-song on our roof at night–

And I love the rain.

— Langston Hughes, a man who, for all his talents, obviously wasn’t a big baseball fan.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: