And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

15 Comments

Phillies 7, Indians 6: Walkoff jack for Jimmy Rollins gives the Phillies a
come-from-behind victory.  Gentlemen, you may commence the “the
Phillies’ swoon was all about missing Jimmy Rollins” narrative . . .
now.

Rockies 8, Red Sox 6: We can’t be terribly surprised at ninth inning rallies off the Indians’ pen, but two homers off Johnathan Papelbon in the ninth inning? Oy!  And let’s put it this way: if you score six runs on ten hits off Ubaldo Jimenez you have no business losing that ballgame.

Yankees 6, Diamondbacks 5: Another rule: if you walk seven times in two and a third innings against the other team’s starter, you should score more than two runs off him and thus not be required to rely on a tenth inning home run from Curtis Granderson in order to win the game.

Royals 1, Nationals 0: They could barely touch him and they owe the game’s outcome to their own pitching staff and the Nats’ offensive ineptitude, but the Royals’ batters can say with 100% accuracy that they handed Stephen Strasburg his first major league loss.

Cardinals 1, Blue Jays 0: Damn shame both starters couldn’t have won this one. Chris Carpenter gets the W after flinging eight scoreless innings while allowing only three hits. Rickey Romero was just about as good with eight shutout innings of his own.  A ninth inning RBI single by Matt Holliday — who no longer stinks, by the way — was the difference in the ballgame.

Mets 5, Tigers 0: My displeasure with the Mets’ win is more than outweighed by the fact that it was occasioned by the continuing excellence of R.A. Dickey (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER). Viva knuckleballers.

Padres 5, Rays 4: The particular schedule I look at to track teams’ long term success lists “W”s in green and “Ls” in red.  For the Rays, as Lt. Al Giradello used to say on “Homicide,” there’s a lot of red up on that board! Well, he used to kind of mumble it, and he wasn’t talking about the Rays, but you know what I’m getting at. Wait, you don’t know, because you didn’t watch the show, which caused NBC to make the producers drop Jon Polito and Ned Beatty from the cast in order to try to make it appeal to a younger demographic, thus killing all that was great about it. Seriously, Michael Michele? Jon Seda? Who the hell ever would have bought them as murder police? Honestly! Uh, where was I?  Oh yeah, the Rays are 8-11 in June.

Marlins 7, Orioles 5: Edwin Rodriguez wins his debut as the Marlins’ manager. I wonder what bogus excuse Loria will use when they fire him in order to replace him with Bobby Valentine or whoever. Maybe “you know how I feel about wins! I really expected to win the rest of our ballgames and you lost one at the end of July!” Or how about “This has nothing to do with anything Hanley Ramirez said. In fact he communicated his displeasure and disrespect for you telepathically, so he never had to utter a single word!” Oh, and that’s 21 of 25 games denoted by little red “Ls” for the Orioles. Since both they and Giradello are from Baltimore, maybe I should have saved my “Homicide” rant for this one. Maybe not: a lot of those Ls are stone cold whodunnits, and no one gets worked up about those. The Rays’ losses are red balls.

Reds 3, Athletics 0: Speaking of red writing, the A’s are 6-16 in June. Speaking of the color red in general, the Reds have righted the ship quite nicely after that nightmare weekend in Seattle. Seven shutout innings for Johnny Cueto and a 3 for 3, 2 RBI night for Jay Bruce.

White Sox 4, Braves 2: The White Sox keep rolling and now the Braves are starting to skid. Two homers for Carlos Quentin.

Mariners 8, Cubs 1: That Cliff Lee fella is pretty good (CG 9 H, 1 ER, 9K, 0 BB). Maybe someone should think about trading for him.

Angels 2, Dodgers 1: This one ended on two base running screw ups: First Matt Kemp was picked off at second for out number two. Then, a couple batters later, Jamey Carroll hit a single that should have scored Reed Johnson easily from second. But Russell Martin was in his own world somewhere, rounded second too far and then got pegged at the bag trying to get back before Johnson could cross the plate. Martin out, no run, game over. I think I already used an “Oy” this morning, but extreme times call for additional “Oys” so Oy!

Rangers 13, Pirates 3: The Rangers refuse to lose — that’s ten straight for them — and the Pirates refuse to even approach the appearance of a major league team. Michael Young was 3 for 4 with a double, a homer and four RBI.

Brewers 5, Twins 3: I guess maybe I shouldn’t have assumed Ken Macha was so foolish as to install Trevor Hoffman as the closer after all. I mean, if he’s not going to use Hoffman to close a game the night after John Axford gets a six out save, he may never do it. Pfun Pfact: Manny Parra had four wild pitches.

Astros 6, Giants 3: Brett Myers has been one of the few bright spots for Houston this year. Last night he gave up three runs — only one earned — in seven innings and even went 2 for 3 with an RBI.

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)
Getty Images
8 Comments

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)
Elsa/Getty Images
15 Comments

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)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
5 Comments

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)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
18 Comments

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.