And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Mariners 7, Yankees 0: Having Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez shut the Yankees down in back-to-back games was exactly how the Mariners drew it up this offseason. Only they figured it would happen in meaningful games in October as opposed to playing-out-the-string-already-time in late June.  But hey, dominance is dominance, and King Felix had it in abundance last night (CG SHO, 2 H, 11K). Still, I’ll be curious to read how the tabloids pin this on some fatal Yankee flaw this morning, because how else could they ever lose a game?

Dodgers 8, Giants 2: You know what’s fun? Building an entire video segment around how Matt Kemp is struggling and how you don’t know what to make of it and you don’t know when it will end, taping it, and then prior to post-production being completed, having Kemp go 3 for 4 with a homer and 3 RBI. But screw it, we’re gonna post the video later because if we didn’t then you wouldn’t get to see me wearing a shirt with a collar that gaps up all crazy and stupid looking. Mr. DeMille: I’m ready for my closeup.

Astros 5, Brewers 1: Could have been worse. I gave serious thought to doing a “what the hell is the matter with Wandy Rodriguez” segment. Wandy: 7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 6K.

Braves 4, Nationals 1: Jair Jurrjens returned, looked sharp, struck out a lot of guys until he ran out of gas in the fifth and sixth. But that’s OK because he’s not exactly in midseason form from a conditioning perspective right now. And really, given how they’re hitting the ball, the Nats are essentially a rehab start-quality opponent to begin with.

Royals 7, White Sox 6: Greinke was basically cruising — giving up a lot of hits, but allowing only one run — until the eighth when he came crashing back to Earth and the Sox plated five. KC held on, however, lucky to have built up that 7-1 lead through seven.

Padres 13, Rockies 3: Just another game in that bandbox they call a ballpark down in San Diego. The Rockies and the Padres combined for 41 runs in this three-game series. Clayton Richard was on point last night, though (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 10K).

Rays 9, Red Sox 4: The bottom of the order — Sean Rodriguez, Kelly Shoppach and Jason Bartlett — got the job done for Tampa Bay, combining for seven RBI. Matt Garza was solid into the eighth, striking out five and walking two and allowing three runs on six hits (two of the three runs scored after he left the game).

Pirates 2, Cubs 0: My daddy said “son you’re gonna drive me to drinkin’ if you can’t start hittin off hot Brad Lincoln.” Um, let’s just move on, shall we?

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 2: Say what you want about Yankees-Red Sox games taking forever, but at least those teams have a bunch of great players and stuff. This one featured a Barry Enright-Jeff Suppan matchup that went nearly four hours. Oy vey.

Indians 3, Blue Jays 1: Aaron Laffey’s wife had a son yesterday and he used that as inspiration for his winning performance: “With runners on base or when I was behind in the count, I thought,
‘Come on, your son was born yesterday, you can’t give in.'”  Which is crazy. The day after our kids were born we were each so physically and/or emotionally drained, giving in was the only option. Really, I think I let my then-19 month-old daughter smoke cigarettes the day the boy was born, because I just couldn’t find the will to do anything but acquiesce. By all rights Laffey should have walked 16 dudes and left the mound in a heap. Good for him for not doing so.

Orioles 9, Athletics 6: Five homers for the O’s, including a Luke Scott solo shot in the seventh on which he injured his hamstring during the trot. Assuming it’s not a totally serious injury, you can bet he’ll be fined a righteous amount of money in kangaroo court as God, nature and kangaroos intended.

Reds 4, Phillies 3: I hit this one up yesterday. Fun way to pass the time yesterday afternoon: reading people who pay no attention to the NL Central write things afterward to the effect of “Hey, you know what? The Reds are pretty decent.”

Twins 5, Tigers 1: I hit this one up too. Random fact ESPN threw out there in their recap: “The Twins improved to 38-0 this season when leading after eight innings.” I’d be curious to see the numbers on this for every team. I’m guessing that while hardly any other teams are undefeated in such situations, most if not all teams have overwhelmingly good records. I guess this is just a more polite way of suggesting that Joe Nathan’s injury hasn’t turned out to be that big a deal.

Rangers 6, Angels 4: Vlad was a one-man wrecking crew: grand slam in the fourth, solo shot in the eighth and a double and a single to go along with the blasts. Mike Scioscia: “He’s obviously at a level we haven’t seen in a
couple of years.” No kiddin’.

Mets 6, Marlins 5: The Mets salvage the three-game series with a win despite allowing 17 hits. It helped that the Feesh made four errors. Edwin Rodriguez: “I think it was a good ending, other than the loss.” I’m inspired. How about you?

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

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: