And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Carlos Lee swing.jpgAstros 6, Rockies 2: Wow. Walkoff (why did I think the Astros were at home?) game-winning grand slam by Carlos Lee in the tenth inning. Someone isn’t happy about being called “untradeable” for the past two months.  Dude has been on fire in June.

Indians 11, Red Sox 0: Yesterday I observed that Tuesday night was a pretty epic night for pitchers (turns out it was only mildly epic).  Last night was a pretty big blowout night.  This one led the way, with Tribe unloading on Boof Bonser and Joe Nelson for eight runs in the eighth. Not that they needed all those runs with Justin Masterson shutting down the Boston bats with a two-hit shutout.

Rays 10, Blue Jays 1: I’m suddenly hearing nothing from that dude who keeps showing up in my Power Rankings threads beefing about me not showing any respect to the Blue Jays.  I know he’s out there — he has accurately monitored my torrid east coast bias for weeks now — but I have yet to hear him explain to me how this series with the Rays in which the Jays have so far been outscored 19-1 fits into the Toronto Master Plan.

White Sox 15, Tigers 3: The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last night. Ozzie Guillen was rooting for them, but after the game he was a bit sad too: “It took us three months to score 15 runs and now
nobody is going to know.”
Remember when Rick Porcello was the hot young pitching prospect we were
all talking about? Yeah, well, that seems like a long damn time ago,
kiddo (3.1 IP, 8 H, 8 ER, 6.09 ERA on the season).

Rangers 12, Mariners 2:  The blowouts just keep on coming. Remind me next winter when some team is signing and trading all kinds of dudes to not get too excited about all the “noise” they’re making in the offseason, OK?

Cubs 9, Brewers 2: Randy Wolf gives up five homers and, by his own admission, is living a “nightmare” season.  I think that goes for everyone in BrewersLand.

Twins 6, Royals 2: Carl Pavano gives up two over eight innings to shut down Kansas City. The Royals have a secret weapon though: they drafted the great-great nephew of Shoeless Joe Jackson with their last pick yesterday. He’s a catcher. I have no idea if he’s any good, but maybe he’ll teach them how to put the fix in or something.

Reds 6, Giants 3: Buster Posey’s first major league homer was really the only highlight for the Giants. Orlando Cabrera messed around and got three doubles for Cincinnati.

Nationals 7, Pirates 5: After a sellout night for Strasburg, only 18,876 pay to see John Lannan pitch.  I guess I understand that, but Lannan had a pretty memorable debut himself a couple of years ago: he broke Chase Utley’s hand, plunked Ryan Howard and then got tossed.

Yankees 4, Orioles 2: The Yankees lead the season series 10-1. Mercy.

Diamondbacks 2, Braves 1: Ugh. The Dbacks win on an inside the park home run occasioned by Nate McLouth and Jason Heyward slamming into each other in the outfield. McLouth had to leave the game, but he seems OK. The video was scary. Losing a game on that kind of hit is frustrating.

Dodgers 4, Cardinals 3: Manny Ramirez hit a two-run homer and Clayton Kershaw struck out 10 as the Dodgers sweep the Cardinals. The Cards could have scored the tying run in the 9th, but Yadier Molina’s long drive ended up bouncing over the wall for a ground-rule double, causing Pujols to have to stop at third.

Angels 7, Athletics 1: Joe Saunders goes the distance, scattering seven hits and allowing a lone run.  Dallas Braden, who surrendered five runs on 11 hits, hasn’t done much to write home about since the perfecto.

Padres vs. Mets: Postponed: I can show you that when it starts to rain, everything’s the same.

Marlins vs. Phillies: Postponed: This is the mystery of the quotient – Upon us all a little rain must
fall . . . It’s just a little rain…

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.