And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Mariano River irked.jpgRed Sox 7, Yankees 6: For the second time in three days Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera blew a game. This one was way more on Chamberlain — he came into the eighth with a 5-1 lead and the inning ended with things knotted at 5 — but Rivera came in and gave up two of his own.  I’m sure you’ll hear absolutely nothing else about this game today, however, so please, pay it no mind.

Giants 7, Padres 6: Matt Downs had three hits in the game, all coming from the ninth inning on, none bigger than the two-run double in the 12th that proved to be the game winner. The Giants finally take one from San Diego. I think the last time they won one in San Diego the Padres were wearing brown and yellow.

Braves 3, Mets 2: Fundamentally unsound baseball decided this one. First the Braves couldn’t bunt over the pinch runner on two attempts, with such “failure” leading to a walk and a chopper that ended up scoring the winning run when David Wright threw the ball away. I’m willing to bet my 1986 Hank Aaron Donruss Diamond Kings puzzle that, had the Braves gotten the first bunt down, they never would have gotten the runner home.  In other news, Johan Santana not getting run support against the Braves is a tale as old as time. Well, a tale as old as his time in the National League, but we’ve all heard it by now. He deserved a better fate, but he usually does, doesn’t he?

Pirates 2, Phillies 1: Zach Duke + Pirates bullpen > Roy Halladay all
by his lonesome. At least for last night, anyway. Chase Utley missed his second game in a row with “flu-like symptoms,” which either means (a) that old saw about “flu-like symptoms” being a euphemism for a hangover isn’t true; or (b) Utley is on one HELL of a bender.

Orioles 4, Royals 3: Nice line for Luke Scott: 2 AB, 2 R, 2 H, 2 RBI, 2 BB and 2 HR.  And hey, a Bryan Bullington sighting!  He’s like that cat in the nursing home that curls up on the terminal patients right before they die. When he shows up on your roster, good night Irene.

Marlins 8, Diamondbacks 0: I hit this one yesterday afternoon, but let me just add: I have never won the “you can’t come out of your room until you apologize” game with my son. It’s way easier to be bad than it is to be good. I wish that weren’t true, but it is.

Rays 6, Indians 2: The fundamental problem with the Cleveland Indians is that they don’t have good players like David Price (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER) and Evan Longoria (2 for 4, 2B, 3B, 3 RBI), and they have a lot of bad players like David Huff.  Don’t spread that one around though — that’s my scoop, babies.

Reds 5, Brewers 4: Gotta agree with Broseph Gleeman on this one: Trevor Hoffman is toast. Hate to see it go down like this, but that’s usually what happens. John Wetteland is the last elite closer I can think of who left on his own two feet. Tom Henke did too. Billy Wagner looks poised to do it, and probably Rivera, but most guys have the ball taken from them.

White Sox 6, Tigers 2: Freddy Garcia was referred to in the AP game story as “the crafty right hander.”  The writer has been fined $50 and ordered to take a lap after violating the clear style-book rule which specifies that only lefties can be described as “crafty.” I realize this is harsh, but if we don’t enforce this now we’ll soon be up to our eyeballs in grizzled rookies, scrappy black guys and balls hit to the opposite field that are not described as “nice pieces of hitting.” In other words: chaos.

Cardinals 3, Nationals 2: Five straight losses for Washington. Methinks they’re turning back into a pumpkin. Oh, and Tyler Clippard may have seven wins, but he still stinks, so take that you Blyleven haters. Oh, wait, sorry. I thought it was December there for a second. I promised myself I wouldn’t start that crap up again until December. Time and place, Craig. Time and place.

Blue Jays 11, Twins 2: Among the carnage yesterday afternoon was an Edwin Encarnacion two-run homer. I always take note of what he does in a game. Why? Because in June of 2005, I was checking into the Marriott in downtown Cleveland, and right in front of me was Edwin Encarnacion, fresh from the airport after being called up to join the Reds for his major league debut against the Indians.  He told the person at the counter his name and they handed him a big envelope with “E. Encarnacion” written on it in magic marker. They explained to him that everything he needed was in that envelope. After I checked in and started walking towards the elevator, I saw him sitting on a bench, looking through the envelope — filled with tickets and cash and all kinds of stuff — basically overwhelmed at everything.  I always sort of wished that he had gone on to a Hall of Fame career so that I could tell that story in more important settings — it could make a great introduction to a motivational speech of some kind — but I’ll take it for what it is.

Rangers 8, Angels 7: C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver each gave up seven runs in four innings and change, opening up the proceedings to a parade of relievers and rendering this the sort of game I enjoy watching the least. Look closely, and you’ll likely see at least two guys from your high school in the pitchers’ portion of the box score.

Cubs 6, Rockies 2: Six strong innings from Carlos Silva, who remains unbeaten. I haven’t seen a career turnaround like this since Bobby Shelton met Harry O. Tophet.

Athletics 6, Mariners 5: Kurt Suzuki got the RBI single in the 10th to win it, but it was made possible by some sloppy play by the M’s and some heads up base running by Cliff Pennington. Specifically, a poor throw back to the infield allowing Pennington to advance from first to second on a fly out, and then a wild pitch allowing him to take third. Sixteen hits for the A’s offense, which is their season high.

Dodgers 7, Astros 3: Not having Andre Ethier around is a lot easier when the Astros are the opponent. Manny Ramirez, James Loney and Casey Blake each had two RBI.

Dee Gordon reinstated from PED suspension

Miami Marlins' Dee Gordon celebrates after hitting a double against the Detroit Tigers in the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Miami. Derek Dietrich scored on the double. The Tigers won 8-7. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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The Miami Marlins have reinstated second baseman Dee Gordon from his suspension.

Gordon, of course, has missed the last 80 games while serving his drug suspension. He’s coming off a minor league rehab assignment and will be the everyday second baseman for the contending Marlins. He was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances when he was popped. He was replaced by Derek Dietrich, who hit a nice .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA in Gordon’s absence, so don’t expect a tremendous upgrade at second down the stretch, even if they get a nice upgrade in the utility and depth department.

To make room for Gordon, the Marlins designated utilityman and sometimes hero Don Kelly for assignment. Sad jams.

Chris Sale called “a competitor” for stuff that gets most guys called “head cases”

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Chris Sale #49 of the Chicago White Sox reacts during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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Chris Sale has had an eventful week.

On Saturday he was scratched from his start and subsequently suspended for five games for cutting up the 1976 throwback uniforms the team was scheduled to wear, making them unusable. That cost the team over $12,000 and cost the Sox their best pitcher hours before game time.

On Monday Sale gave an interview to Scott Merkin in which he apologized to fans and teammates and explained his rationale for the uniform shredding. Even if his act was over the top, there was a core of understandable motivation at least: Sale said he voiced his displeasure with the untucked jersey months ago and asked to not pitch on a night they’d have to wear them because he believed it would mess with his mechanics and/or mental state. The Sox didn’t heed his request and Sale took issue, as many probably would, with what he felt was the business of throwback jerseys taking precedence over on-the-field stuff.

Of course, there are still some pretty big problems here. Mostly having to do with the facts that (a) the Sox have people on staff who could’ve optimized his jersey any way he needed it to be optimized if he had asked; (b) ballplayers have been wearing throwbacks for a long time now and, even if they don’t like them, they tend to endure them; and (c) he’s a ballplayer who needs to suck things up sometimes like every single ballplayer ever has done. There are a ton of things ballplayers are expected to do which are insisted upon by the business folks. It’s part of the gig.

A little more seriously than that is the fact that Sale pretty publicly threw his manager, Robin Ventura, under the bus :

“Robin is the one who has to fight for us in that department,” Sale said. “If the players don’t feel comfortable 100 percent about what we are doing to win the game, and we have an easy fix — it was as easy as hanging up another jersey and everyone was fine. For them to put business first over winning, that’s when I lost it.”

An undercurrent to all of this is Sale being fairly obvious in voicing his desire to be traded.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about Sale’s week. It’s sourced largely by Sale’s friend Adam Eaton who defends Sale as a passionate competitor who just wants to win and how all of this stuff of the past week was about his desire to do so. The headline of the story buys in to all of that:

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We heard much the same along these lines when Sale blasted Sox brass following the Drake LaRoche stuff during spring training, going on an expletive-filled rant in a meeting behind closed doors but then bringing the same noise, albeit cleaned up, in front of reporters after it all became public.

Chris Sale is who he is, of course, and I’m not going to too harshly judge who he is. He’s an amazing pitcher and, as most athletes will tell you, the mental part of the game is almost as important or, maybe, even more important than the physical part. Asking Sale to be who he isn’t would probably be counterproductive in the long term.

But I am fascinated with the way in which someone who has behaved like Sale has behaved is described. He’s a “competitor” whose objectively disruptive and literally destructive behavior is explained away as merely a function of his desire to win. His friends on the team, like Eaton, are sought out for damage control and spin and his detractors, which there are likely some, aren’t quoted, even anonymously. He has publicly called out his manager as not wanting to win as much as he wants to please his bosses and he has likewise called out his manager’s bosses and has welcomed a trade, yet we aren’t seeing stories about how that’s a bad thing for the Sox’ clubhouse.

I don’t much care for that sort of stuff, actually, as I suspect most clubhouse controversy stories are somewhat overblown and overly dramatized. But those stories have been go-to tropes of sports writers for decades, and I am trying to imagine this sort of story about players who aren’t Chris Sale. Players who don’t have as friendly a relationship with the media as he has or who don’t have clubhouse allies who do. I feel like, most of the time, a story about a guy who who has done the odd things Sale has done both this week and last March would play a hell of a lot differently.

How does this all play of it’s Yordano Ventura? Or Yasiel Puig? Or Jose Fernandez? How does this play if it took place in the NBA and it was Kevin Durant who shredded up a bunch of short-shorts on 80s throwback night? How does it play if it’s Cam Newton?

I bet it plays differently.