And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Griffey mobbed.jpgMariners
4, Blue Jays 3
: Ken Griffey, Jr. with the pinch hit, game-winning
RBI single.  Don Wakamatsu was ejected before Griffey was sent in to the game, so it wasn’t his call.  However, a source of mine secretly
recorded the conversation that the remaining coaching staff had before
Junior was allowed to go up and pinch hit:

Bench Coach: Need to pinch hit. Send up Tuiasosopo.

Hitting Coach: What about Griffey?

Bench Coach: Ah, he’s a freakin’ corpse.

Griffey: I’m not dead.

Bench Coach:
What?

Griffey: I’m not dead.

Hitting Coach:
‘Ere, he says he’s not dead.

Bench Coach: Yes he is.

Griffey: I’m not.

Hitting Coach: He isn’t.

Bench Coach: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.

Griffey:
I’m getting better.

Bench Coach: No you’re not, you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

Griffey: I think I’ll go for a walk.

Bench Coach: You’re not fooling anyone, you know.

Griffey: I feel happy. I feel happy . . .

Braves 10, Reds 9:  Already hit this one up yesterday, but let me say again: wow. In case you missed it.

Rays 8, Yankees 6: New York fell behind 3-0 early, but tied it up, gave up another run, and then tied it up again before a couple of Carlos Pena homers put the game out of reach. For the second night in a row a ninth inning mini-rally fell short for the Bombers, who dropped both games to the Rays.

Brewers 4, Pirates 3: Tough game: home plate umpire John Hirschbeck was knocked out of the game when a pitch hit him in the mask, Greg Zaun left because he hurt his shoulder, and the Brewers — already a man down due to Jody Gerut’s absence to be with his pregnant wife — ended up pinch-hitting with Yovani Gallardo. No harm, no foul, though, as the Brew Crew won the game and broke their brutal losing streak. Carlos Villanueva with the save. Get used to that.

Cardinals 4, Marlins 2: Adam Wainwright gives up two runs over seven innings — because he basically always pitches seven or more innings — and Matt Holliday had two doubles and a couple of RBI from his new home in the three-hole.

Red Sox 6, Twins 2: The Twins’ loss drops them back into a first place tie with the Tigers.  The offense, she struggles lately, and Francisco Liriano — lights-out in April — is getting the snot beat out of him in May, allowing 16 earned runs in 23.2 innings and losing three in a row.

Phillies 5, Cubs 4: Jose Contreras worked out of trouble in the ninth to get the save. After the game, when asked about what it’s like to be the closer, he said “At the beginning, I thought it was only one inning. Now I know how tough
it is.”  But we should all cut Contreras some slack here. After all, the save stat wasn’t even invented until he had already been pitching for ten or eleven years.

Tigers 5, Athletics 2: One of just several of the two-game series this week that, according to the game stories, resulted in a “sweep.”  Can we make a rule that you can’t “sweep” anything that isn’t at least three games long?

Royals 9, Indians 3: Hey, the Royals aren’t in last place anymore and Ned Yost is 5-2 since taking over last week. Manager of the Year, anyone? Heh — that one guy reading in Charlotte, North Carolina thought I was being serious. Hey, everyone! Let’s laugh at that guy!

Mets 10, Nationals 7: John Maine left the game after throwing only five pitches. The reason: “diminished velocity,” a reason for which I’ve never seen anyone get pulled out of a game before. Four RBI for David Wright and a 15-hit attack covered for the pitching issues, however.  What the Mets will do for a starter now is anyone’s guess. Throw R.A. Dickey once every two days, maybe.

Rockies 4, Astros 0: Sending Ubaldo Jimenez out against this Astros lineup is almost unfair. He one-hit them over seven.  Roy Oswalt (2-5 with a 2.66 ERA) is giving serious thought to stealing a convertible, grabbing Zack Greinke and going on a cross-country crime spree as a result of the run support injustices done unto him for so long.

Dodgers 4, Padres 1: Clayton Kershaw shuts down the Friars, and the Dodgers now stand a mere game out of first place.

Diamondbacks 8, Giants 7: Not something you see every day: Lincecum gives up five runs on five hits in five innings. The Dbacks scored the winning run on a wild pitch by Jeremy Affeldt.

Rangers 13, Orioles 7: Brian Matusz got shelled and the Rangers rapped
out 20 hits in all.  Heck, Baltimore had 15 hits of their own.

Angels 6, White Sox 5: The Angels have won five of seven. The White Sox have lost eight of 12. Random: Mike Scioscia gave Brandon Wood the night off because, he said, he’s “pressing too much.”  It seems like there has been an explosion in the use of the term “pressing” this year. I kind of know what they’re trying to communicate with it — someone’s trying too hard and getting frustrated, maybe — but I’d like someone to explain to me in concrete terms what the evidence is of someone pressing separate and apart from them getting poor results. Can someone ever just suck, while being free and easy out there?  Is there a difference between chasing awful pitches because one is “pressing” and doing so because one simply has crappy plate discipline?  These are the things that keep me awake at night.

Julio Urias is on his way back to the majors

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 27:  Julio Urias #78 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the New York Mets during their game at Citi Field on May 27, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images
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Dodgers 19-year-old rookie Julio Urias is coming back to the majors and Alex Wood is headed to the 15-day disabled list with left elbow soreness, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. Urias will likely start Saturday against the Braves, which will mark his debut in front of the home crowd.

Urias made his major league debut on Friday against the Mets at Citi Field, but lasted only 2 2/3 innings. He yielded three runs on five hits and four walks with three strikeouts.

Urias came into the season rated as the Dodgers’ #1 prospect and the #2 overall prospect in baseball. Prior to his promotion, he had compiled a 1.10 ERA with 44 strikeouts and eight walks over 41 innings with Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Mookie Betts enjoys a three-homer game against the Orioles

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 31: Mookie Betts #50 of the Boston Red Sox follows his three run homer against the Baltimore Orioles in the second inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on May 31, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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The Red Sox seem to have hit the jackpot on all of their young players so far this year. Jackie Bradley, Jr. just had a 29-game hitting streak snapped. Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 24 games on Tuesday night. And Mookie Betts has been quite productive batting leadoff for the Red Sox this year, entering Tuesday with an even .800 OPS.

Betts, 23, hit 18 home runs in his first full season last year. With a three-homer night against the Orioles on Tuesday, he’s already up to 12 in 2016 with four months of season left. The first was of the solo variety, a line drive to center field off of Kevin Gausman in the first inning. Betts followed up in the third with a liner to left field for a three-run dinger off of Gausman. He made it three in the seventh, drilling a Dylan Bundy offering to right field.

Here’s video of homer number two:

Betts finished 3-for-5 as the Red Sox won 6-2 at Camden Yards.

The stats show the Pirates as an outlier in throwing “headhunter” pitches

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 5: Reliever Arquimedes Caminero #37 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the seventh inning at Busch Stadium on September 5, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
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Last week at ESPN Sweetspot’s Inside the Zona, Ryan Morrison looked into the data and found that the Pirates stand out among the rest when it comes to throwing “headhunter” pitches. Those are defined as fastballs 3.2 feet or higher and 1.2 feet towards the batter from the center of the plate.

The research was prompted because Diamondbacks second baseman Jean Segura was hit in the helmet by Pirates reliever Arquimedes Caminero last Tuesday in the seventh inning. The next inning, Caminero hit shortstop Nick Ahmed in the jaw with a pitch and was instantly ejected.

Morrison illustrated the data in a nice chart, which you should check out. The Pirates have thrown 93 of those pitches, which is way more than any other team. The next closest team is the Reds at 68 pitches. The major league average is approximately 48 pitches.

The Pirates have had an organizational philosophy of pitching inside since at least 2013, as MLB.com’s Tom Singer quoted manager Clint Hurdle as saying, “We’re not trying to hurt people, just staying in with conviction.”

Morrison goes on to suggest that the Diamondbacks should have forfeited last Wednesday and Thursday’s games against the Pirates in protest, out of concern for their players’ safety. As it happened, the D-Backs lost both games anyway, suffering a series sweep. The two clubs don’t meet again this season.

D-Backs manager Chip Hale said after last Tuesday’s game that Caminero “shouldn’t be at this level”. Caminero responded to those comments today, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports. “I’m actually glad you asked me about that,” Caminero said. “The only thing I’ve got to say about (Hale) is that he is a perfect manager. And he was a perfect player, too. That’s it. I know what I did wasn’t good, but it happens in baseball. I wasn’t trying to hit anyone.”

I realize I’m late on pointing out Morrison’s terrific article and the whole debacle between the two teams, but I felt it was worth highlighting.

Jose Bautista: “I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto

TORONTO, CANADA - MAY 29: Jose Bautista #19 of the Toronto Blue Jayshits a two-run home run in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Boston Red Sox on May 29, 2016 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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Also included in a recent report on Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista by Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated — along with his belief that Rougned Odor was the only bad guy in the May 15 debacle — was the slugger’s desire to remain a Blue Jay. Per Verducci, Bautista said, “I love the city. I’d be stupid to leave” Toronto.

Bautista, 35, is in the final year of a five-year, $65 million extension signed in February 2011. Back in November, the Jays exercised their 2016 club option for $14 million. Bautista isn’t willing to discuss contract details during the season, so the two sides will have to wait until at least October to come to an agreement.

Entering Tuesday’s game against the Yankees, Bautista is hitting .237/.371/.489 with 11 home runs, 37 RBI, and 40 walks, the latter of which leads the American League.