And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Albert Pujols running.jpgCardinals 9, Cubs 1: Things people were doing for about ten seconds and then suddenly pretending that they never did: (1) listening to swing music; (2) playing poker; and (3) wondering if it was possible that Albert Pujols was no longer the best player in baseball. Pujols: 3 for 3 3 HR, 4 RBI; Cherry Poppin’ Daddies, awful, your story about that miracle draw on the river of that hand you shouldn’t have even been in anymore, still boring as hell.

Tigers 10, Athletics 2: I once got stuck in Toledo for a two-week trial, and when I came back I appreciated my non-Toledo existence as the precious gift from The Maker that it truly is. Life felt fresh again and, for a little while at least, I approached my responsibilities with a renewed sense of purpose and gusto. I think Max Scherzer feels the same way (5.2 IP, 2 H, 14K).  Oh, and becoming father for the second time agrees with Miguel Cabrera: 4 for 5 with a double a homer and 4 RB. Cabrera is 8 for 13 with four homers in the three games since the birth of his daughter.

Marlins 1, Phillies 0: The Phillies’ offensive woes were forgotten for a minute thanks to Roy Halladay’s perfect game, but the fact is that they still only scored four runs in three games on their trip to Florida. Sure, the Marlins only scored three, but they’re not the ones who were supposed to pummel the opposition all year.

Braves 5, Pirates 2: I wrote a proto-epitaph for Chipper Jones on Thursday, and in the four games since then he’s gone 6 for 12 with 5 RBI, including yesterday’s pinch hit job, which proved to be the game-winner. All but one of those hits were singles so I suppose we could still ask where Jones’ power is, but let’s not bury the guy just yet.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5: Stop me if you’ve heard this one: the opposing team rallied off the Dbacks’ bullpen and went on to win the game.  That makes seven straight losses for Arizona, who was outscored 23-6 in the series.  Oh, and Buster Posey starts out his 2010 major league season by going 6 for 10 with two doubles and four RBI for the Giants.

Angels 9, Mariners 7: Three-run walkoff homer for Howie Kendrick in the bottom of the ninth. No Los Angels of Anaheim were injured in the celebration of this event.

Padres 3, Nationals 2: Two homers for Ryan Zimmerman, but the pinch hit RBI single from the Padres’ Nick Hundley in the 11th was the bigger blow. By the way, it’s fun to look at box scores with names like Gwynn and Hundley and Stairs in it. Gives me a retro-90s vibe. Oh wait, I forgot: Matt Stairs is the same dude from the 90s. Nothin’ retro about that.

White Sox, 8, Rays 5: Jayson Nix came off the bench to hit a grand slam and help the Sox earn a split with the Rays. Tampa Bay went 2-5 in the past week. Why they need to go and screw up my power rankings like that I have no idea, but it’s pretty darn inconsiderate.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 3: I like the nine strikeouts in five innings from Clayton Kershaw, but I don’t like the 97 pitches in five innings. It’s a win and wins are nice, but having to use five pitchers when your ace takes the hill is the kind of thing that has to make managers tear their hair out. Oh, and it was Manny Ramirez’s birthday yesterday. Joe Torre didn’t give him the start, though, because he correctly presumed that Ramirez would be distracted all afternoon thinking about all the places he’d go after the game to get free stuff.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 1: See, that’s how you pitch efficiently: Ricky Romero: CG, 6 H, 1 ER, 7K, 102 pitches.

Red Sox 8, Royals 1: David Ortiz hit a homer, Jon Lester was solid for seven and Mike Cameron doubled twice and drove in two, capping an 18-11 month for the Bosox.

Mets 10, Brewers 4: Apart from not fooling Rickie Weeks — who hit two homers — R.A. Dickey had himself yet another nice game (7 IP, 9 H, 4 ER). Helps when you don’t walk anybody.  The Mets’ ten runs on 16 hits was their biggest offensive game of the season.

Yankees 7, Indians 3: The Bombers were down 3-0 entering their half of the seventh and then they were all, like, Derek Jeter two-run single and Mark Teixeira three-run homer. The Yankees fans were all “cool” and the Tribe fans were all like “dude . . .”

Astros 2, Reds 0: It was ugly hot and humid here in Columbus yesterday, and a good rule of thumb is to add approximately 4.7 misery points to the Columbus, Ohio icky and muggy scale in order to find out what it’s like in Cincinnati. Based on that formula — and based on the fact that the game was scoreless for the first nine innings, but not scoreless in a “wow these pitchers are awesome” kind of way — I am quite pleased that I passed on the tickets I was offered to this game.

Twins 6, Rangers 3: Tough game. Derek Holland left in the second inning with shoulder soreness and the ninth inning closed with Denard Span slamming into Orlando Hudson as Span made the game-ending catch.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.