And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Mets 6, Indians 4: The Mets and R.A. Dickey simply can’t lose.  The previous sentence would have made no logical sense to anyone on the planet just a few short weeks ago. Seven straight for the Mets as they go back home to face the Yankees. Well, they’ll be on the road, technically, but they will be able to sleep in their own beds and everything.  In other news, we heard that both John Maine and Oliver Perez are making rehabilitation starts down on the farm someplace. The way things are going for the big club since they left, I have this feeling that there will be “setbacks” in their rehab.

Phillies 7, Yankees 1: As everyone predicted, the Phillies were simply waiting to go play the hapless New York Yankees in Yankee Stadium in order to snap out of their funk. Between Jamie Moyer throwing his near-stationary junk by them on Wednesday night and Kyle Kendrick baffling them with sinkers last night, methinks the book on the Yankees may be to lay off the gas.

Braves 3, Rays 1: Atlanta holds off Philly and New York by somehow taking two of three from the Rays. Tim Hudson gave up one run in seven innings for his seventh win in what has been one of the quieter spiffy seasons among pitchers this year (7-2, 2.34 ERA). Jason Heyward hit his first homer since May 29th.

Red Sox 8, Diamondbacks 5: With both the Bombers and the Rays losing, the Sox are now only two games back. According to the AP game story “Boston became the only team with three eight-game winners.”  If this was the 80s, Donruss would come up with a special card with Lester, Lackey and Buchholz on it each holding out baseballs with the number eight written on them in magic marker over the title “Eight Balls” or something. Actually, come to think of it, Donruss may have already done that with Dave Parker, Dale Berra and Rod Scurry. Different deal altogether, though.

Royals
5, Astros 2
: Here’s some bizarre stuff: Yuniesky Betancourt hit a
line drive to shortstop Geoff Blum in the fifth that led to the end of
the inning when David DeJesus was doubled off second. Except the umpires
reversed the call after everyone left the field, ruling that the ball
had been trapped, not caught. They ended up calling Betancourt out at
first, ruling that Geoff Blum would have thrown him out, and they
awarded DeJesus third base. This despite the fact that Blum never threw
to first base and despite the fact that DeJesus  likely never would have
advanced to third if it was a ground ball to the left side.

And guess what? The umps seem to have gotten this right. Replays seem to
show that the ball was trapped.  The umpires — checking their egos for
the good of the game — got the call right once they conferred. Given
that runners were in motion and stuff it’s not easy to figure out what
to do on the play, but Rule 9.01 (c) states that each umpire
“has authority to rule on any point not specifically covered in these
rules,” and this kind of play seems not to be in the rules.  I’ll think
harder about this one as the morning unfolds and the coffee kicks in,
but as of now I think that, even though you maybe should keep DeJesus at second
base on the call, all-in-all
this makes sense as a good bit of judgment and a good bit of umpiring.

Rockies 5, Twins 1: Ubaldo Jimenez gives up eight hits. It’s a shame to
see his season unravel like that.

Reds 7, Dodgers 1:  I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. It
was Arroyoriffic
.

Rangers 6, Marlins 4: The Rangers sweep the Feesh behind three RBI from Ian Kinsler. Mike Stanton is now 0 for his last 12 with six strikeouts.

White Sox 5, Pirates 4: How low can the Pirates go?  That’s 11 straight in the dustbin for Pittsburgh. The Sox have won seven of eight. Mark Buehrle is now the winningest interleague pitcher, running his record to 22-6 against the NL in regular season games, which puts him one ahead of Jamie Moyer and Mike Mussina. Moyer will probably pass up Buehrle once the latter retires, however.

Cubs 3, Athletics 2: Kosuke Fukudome came in as a pinch hitter in the eighth, hit a single and came around to score the tying run, stayed in the game and drove home the winning run with a ninth inning single. Jerry Blevins gave up that last hit, by the way. I guess he wasn’t lucky.

Tigers 8, Nationals 3: What good is this Stephen Strasburg character if he can’t help the Nats win?!  They’re under .500 since he’s been called up! Give me Jack Morris or someone who knows what it takes to put Ws on the board over some overpriced strikeout machine any day!  (did you like that? I’m thinking of trying out to do some talk radio and I figured I could hone my shtick here a bit. OK, now check this out):  And what’s with Miguel Cabrera?!  Sure, he he’s hitting .332 with 19 homers and 59 RBI, but I have yet to see him once lay down a bunt and get the runner over this year and he never hits the ball the other way to take what the defense is giving him!  It’s all me-first stats with that guy! Next caller!

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:

Tony Clark responds to Rob Manfred’s claim that union had a “lack of cooperation”

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, JAN. 18-19 - This Jan. 15, 2014 photo showing new baseball union head Tony Clark during an interview at the organization's headquarters, in New York. Clark has big shoes to fill _ and not just as Michael Weiner's replacement as head of the baseball players' union. Moving from Arizona to New Jersey, the former big league All-Star also needed to find size 15 snowshoes.  (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
AP Photo/Richard Drew
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Earlier, Craig covered Rob Manfred’s comments in which he accused the Major League Baseball Players’ Association of “a lack of cooperation” concerning some proposed rule changes. The union would need to agree to any such changes, which have included automatic intentional walks, limiting mound visits, pitch clocks, and swapping batting practice times for home and visiting teams.

Manfred went on to say that MLB will impose those rule changes unilaterally next year as allowed in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, responded to Manfred’s comment. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

“Unless your definition of ‘cooperation’ is blanket approval, I don’t agree that we’ve failed to cooperate with the Commissioner’s office on these issues.”

“Two years ago we negotiated pace of play protocols that had an immediate and positive impact. Last year we took a step backward in some ways, and this off season we’ve been in regular contact with MLB and with our members to get a better handle on why that happened.”

“I would be surprised if those discussions with MLB don’t continue, notwithstanding today’s comments about implementation. As I’ve said, fundamental changes to the game are going to be an uphill battle, but the lines of communication should remain open.”

“My understanding is that MLB wants to continue with the replay changes (2min limit) and the no-pitch intentional walks and the pace of Game warning/fine adjustments.”

Clark’s response isn’t anything too shocking. Manfred’s accusation was pretty baseless, but it’s behavior to be expected of a commissioner who comes down on the side of the owners over the players almost always.