And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Yankees 4, Mets 0: Amazingly, the Yankees prove to be a tougher opponent for the Mets than the Orioles and Indians were. Sabtahia was tough and Teixeira’s grand slam took care of all of the day’s scoring.

Red Sox 2, Dodgers 0: It’s a close call given how well the Rangers are playing, but the Red Sox are probably the hottest team in baseball at the moment. Buchholz, Bard and Papelbon combine to shut out the Dodgers giving the Bosox the sweep. I’ll admit, though: I turned this one off fairly early. Two reasons: (1) I was really tired and the game’s slow pace was allowing me to dose; and (2) if I heard one more thing about Manny Ramirez — who was making his return to Boston, I’m told! — I was gonna barf. Really, folks, there was a baseball game happening. Concentrate on it and not the eight or ninth best player in that particular game please.

Braves 8, Royals 5: That’s five straight wins for Atlanta who — no
offense to the Royals — took advantage of the easier opposition this
weekend to put a bit of distance between themselves and the Mets and
Phillies. Lots of credit to Troy Glaus and Eric Hinske who are looking
like the best couple of bargain bin pickups this year.

White Sox 6, Nationals 3: The Sox have won six in a row, sit at .500 and are a relatively reasonable 5.5 games back of the Twins. The Nats are
skidding. I’m going to make it my mission this week to get people to
start calling it the Curse of Strasburg. Because really, they were doing
just fine before they called him up.

Twins 4, Phillies 1: This one sucked for Philly, but they were probably still reeling from Saturday night’s debacle in which they led 9-4
entering the ninth and ended up blowing it 13-10 in 11 innings. Halladay
on the mound yesterday, but Minnesota somehow knocked 11 hits off the
dude. The Phillies have lost six of Halladay’s last eight starts, by the way. I’m
going to make it my mission this week to get people to start calling
it the Curse of Halladay. Because really, they won two straight
pennants before they traded for him.

Brewers 6, Rockies 1: Huston Street comes back on Tuesday. That’s not soon enough for the Rockies, as Manny Corpas gives up five runs without retiring a batter in the ninth inning of a 1-1game. Corpas was beat up on Saturday too, by the way.

Marlins 4, Rays 1: Josh Johnson continues to be ridiculous (8 IP, 6 H, 1 ER 9K). Since returning from Tommy John surgery in July 2008, Johnson is 30-8
with a 2.95 ERA in 62 starts. The Rays drop two of three to the Feesh and are now out of first place.

Tigers 3, Diamondbacks 1: The Tigers take two of three from the Dbacks on reunion weekend, with Max Scherzer beating his old mates yesterday, Edwin Jackson beating his old pals on Saturday and Dontelle Willis getting the ND against his former compadres on Friday (but pitching poorly enough to lose). Of course for all we know Scherzer, Jackson and Willis hate their old teammates with an unholy passion, so saying they’re mates, pals and compadres may be totally presumptuous of me.

Giants 9, Blues Jays 6: Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff all homered for the Giants, after which they went to a local cafeteria where they took advantage of the early bird special. Huff ate Burrell’s corn on the cob because it was tough and irritated Burrell’s partial. Sanchez fell asleep in his pudding. They then talked about their grandchildren for a while.

Mariners 1, Reds 0: The Reds scored one freakin’ run all weekend. Really: one run.  No shame in getting shut out by Cliff Lee, of course. And Felix Hernandez is tough so I understand that too. But the fact that they couldn’t scratch one across against Ryan Rowland-Smith is pretty sad.

Pirates 5, Indians 3: I know a guy who lives in Pittsburgh who took his kids to not one but two games in this series. Last I heard, Pennsylvania Children’s Services had a warrant out for his arrest and the neighbors were holding a candlelight vigil. Sir, I guess there’s just a meanness in this world.

Rangers 5, Astros 4: Josh Hamilton went 5 for 6, with the game-tying RBI in the ninth and the game-winning RBI in the 10th. He’s now hit in 16 straight games and the Rangers have won 11 of 12.

Athletics 3, Cardinals 2: A loss yesterday, but the Cardinals have to be happy that Matt Holliday is heating up. Two homers yesterday and 8 for 12 in the series with four homers and eight RBIs. Kevin Kouzamanoff was 4 for 4 for Oakland.

Cubs 12, Angels 1: Chicago loses 12-0 on Saturday and wins 12-1 on Sunday. Better than the offense for Chicago was Carlos Zambrano giving up one run in seven innings. Joe Saunders got shelled today, giving up nine hits and a couple of walks in 2.2 innings. His post-game quote: “the defense just wasn’t there for me today.” Whatever, dude.

Padres 9, Orioles 4: San Diego fell behind 4-0 in the top of the first and then scored nine unanswered runs. Baltimore hasn’t won consecutive games since May 12-14th. It’s gonna be a battle royale to figure out whether they or Houston will take the 30th slot in the Power Rankings.

Craig’s Father’s Day: Started out with a 28-mile bike ride through the country and ended with steak, some good wine and rhubarb pie. That’s definitely a win.

Manny Machado, Jake Arrieta highlight MLB’s monthly award winners

Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado celebrates scoring on a two-run double by Gerardo Parra during the eighth inning of a baseball game against the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015, in Toronto. The Orioles won 10-2. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP)
Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP
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Major League Baseball announced the winners of its monthly awards today. Your April standouts…

Player of the Month

American League: Manny Machado

All Machado did in April was play his usual elite defense while hitting .344/.394/.667 with 10 doubles, seven home runs, 16 RBI, 20 runs scored in 104 plate appearances.

National League: Bryce Harper

Harper followed up his MVP award winning 2015 season by looking arguably even better in April 2016. The 23-year-old hit .286/.406/.714 with nine home runs, 24 RBI, and five stolen bases in 96 plate appearances.

Pitcher of the Month

American League: Jordan Zimmermann

Zimmermann didn’t get a lot of fanfare for his dominant opening month. The right-hander went 5-0 with a 0.55 ERA and a 23/7 K/BB ratio over 33 innings. The Tigers signed him to a five-year, $110 million contract back in November. Hard to ask for a better start.

National League: Jake Arrieta

Yes, it was the Reds. Yes, he walked four. Still, it’s impressive that Arrieta threw his second career no-hitter, just nine starts separated from the first one, authored on August 30 last year against the Dodgers. Arrieta finished April 5-0 with an even 1.00 ERA and a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 36 innings.

Rookie of the Month

American League: Nomar Mazara

Mazara debuted on April 10 against the Angels, going 3-for-4 with a homer. He hasn’t cooled off much since. He went hitless in only four of the 17 April games in which he played, racking up a .333/.392/.460 line. The Rangers made a blockbuster trade last year for Cole Hamels and they made sure to hang onto Mazara. It’s a good thing they did.

National League: Trevor Story

Depending on how much one values recency, Cardinals shortstop Aledmys Diaz was arguably as or more deserving of the honor. Story, however, grabbed headlines for more than a week after opening up the season with homers in each of his first four games, two of which featured multiple dingers. He finished the month with 10 homers, tying a rookie record. Along with that, he hit .261/.324/.696.

Diaz, in April, hit .423/.453/.732 with eight doubles, a triple, four homers, 13 RBI, and 18 runs scored in 75 plate appearances.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Monday’s action

Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher Gerrit Cole throws to a San Diego Padres batter during the first inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 21, 2016, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi
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10 games on the slate for Monday evening. The pitching match-ups aren’t too awe-inspiring, but the 7:05 PM EDT game between the Cubs and Pirates will be interesting if only because the two pitchers’ last names kind of form the name of another pitcher. Jason Hammel will pitch for the Cubs against the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole. Cole Hammel. Cole Hamels. Get it? Tough crowd.

In all seriousness, Cole-Hammel has the chance to be a fun game if you’re a fan of great pitching. Hammel has started off the year on fire, boasting a perfect 3-0 record with a minuscule 0.75 ERA and a 22/9 K/BB ratio in 24 innings. For most of his career, Hammel floundered with an ERA often north of 4.50, but when he joined the Cubs in 2014, he seemed to figure things out. The right-hander posted a 2.98 ERA in 17 starts with the Cubs in 2014 and reprised that with a 3.74 ERA in 31 starts last year.

Cole hasn’t been as dominant as Hammel thus far, but still solid nevertheless. He has a 2.78 ERA with a 19/6 K/BB ratio in 22 2/3 innings. Cole has yet to pitch into the seventh inning, but he’ll hope to change that tonight. The 25-year-old finished fourth in NL Cy Young balloting last season. If he didn’t pitch in the same league as Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta, it would be a lot easier to forecast him winning the NL Cy Young Award. Cole’s good enough to earn one, anyway.

The rest of Monday’s action…

Texas Rangers (A.J. Griffin) @ Toronto Blue Jays (R.A. Dickey), 7:07 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Mike Foltynewicz) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto) @ Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan), 7:10 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 7:20 PM EDT

Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios) @ Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel), 8:10 PM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies (Jeremy Hellickson) @ St. Louis Cardinals (Adam Wainwright), 8:15 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Gio Gonzalez) @ Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez), 8:15 PM EDT

Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns) @ Oakland Athletics (Kendall Graveman), 10:05 PM EDT

Colorado Rockies (Jon Gray) @ San Diego Padres (James Shields), 10:10 PM EDT

Today is the anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s Iron Man streak ending

ADVANCE FOR USE MONDAY, MARCH 31 AND THEREAFTER - FILE - In this Oct. 5, 1938 file photo, New York Yankees' Lou Gehrig scores the first run of the 1938 World Series against the Chicago Cubs as he crosses home plate in the second inning of Game 1 at Wrigley Field in Chicago. A dozen years before Babe Ruth’s famed ‘Called Shot,’ teammate Lou Gehrig hit an equally dramatic homer. Gehrig was 17 when his high school team traveled to Chicago to take on a Chicago team. In the bottom of the ninth, with two outs and his team down 8-6, Gehrig hit a ball over wall and onto Sheffield Avenue to win the game. The historic ballpark will celebrate it's 100th anniversary on April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/File)
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Today is a significant baseball anniversary. On this day in 1939 Lou Gehrig asked out of the lineup as the Yankees played the Tigers in Detroit. It both ended his Iron Man Streak at 2,130, but also marked the beginning of Gehrig’s very public acknowledgement of ALS, the disease which would come to bear his name. Gehrig would never play again.

While it was clear that Gehrig’s body was betraying him and his baseball skills were abandoning him in the first few games of the 1939 season, some say the ultimate impetus for Gehrig asking out of the lineup happened earlier that day. The story goes that Gehrig collapsed on the grand staircase of the Book-Cadillac hotel where the Yankees were staying and that later, as he sat in the hotel bar, he told manager Joe McCarthy that he couldn’t play anymore.

The Book-Cadillac is still there. It deteriorated over the years and then was renovated. It’s a Westin now — the Westin Book-Cadillac. It’s a wonderful hotel and the bar area still has much of its old charm, but the grand staircase is gone, replaced with a couple of escalators. I stay there whenever I’m in Detroit. I’m friends with one of the Book-Cadillac’s bartenders and I try to see him whenever I’m there. When I sit in that bar I often wonder if Gehrig sat near where I was, telling McCarthy that he just couldn’t do it anymore. There are a lot of ghosts in Detroit. Gehrig’s is mostly in New York, but there’s a little bit of him in Detroit too.

Cal Ripken would later break Gehrig’s record. I doubt anyone breaks Cal’s. But in some cases the record holders are less interesting than those who were surpassed.

More talk of a juiced ball

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Washington Nationals practice balls  during spring training workouts on February 18, 2014 in Viera, Fl.  (Photo by Jonathan Newton / The Washington Post via Getty Images)
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At the end of March we linked a story from Rob Arthur and Ben Lindbergh at FiveThirtyEight which sought to figure out why home run rates have spiked. Their theory was that it was either randomness or a juiced ball. They tested baseballs and found no evidence of a different ball, so that seems to have ended that.

Except it didn’t end it because, as so often is the case in the early part of a season, we are seeing some statistical, well, let’s just call it “interestingness” and people don’t like to let such interestingness go. To that end Yahoo’s Jeff Passan — acknowledging the Lindbergh/Arthur study — asks once again if the balls are funky.

It’s all based on exit velocity of baseballs, which Passan notes has spiked. He doesn’t come to any conclusions — just not enough data — but the very act of asking the question in a column and Passan’s acknowledgment that he sounds like a conspiracy theorist tell you that that’s his hunch. And it could be the case. I still think the ball got juiced in 1987 and again, on a more permanent basis, in 1993, but there’s no evidence to really support that. Just one of those “can’t think of anything better” sort of situations.

For now, though, it’s May 2. And I suspect that for as long as there have been May 2nds in a baseball season, people have looked at the stats and suspected something weird was afoot. Maybe something weird is afoot. We just can’t really know.