And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Mariners
8, Tigers 1
: Sure, Cliff Lee struck out 11 and allowed a single
run, but (a) he didn’t pitch a complete game; and (b) he walked a guy.
Stick a fork in him.

Reds 14, Cubs 3: Drew Stubbs goes nuts — no doubt motivated by rage over the All-Star snub of his teammate Joey Votto — hitting three homers and driving in five.  For his part Votto was ejected in the first inning. He wasn’t mad about the All-Star stuff. He just woke up on the wrong side of the bed yesterday. It happens.

Cardinals 7, Brewers 1: Yovani Gallardo allowed six runs in less than three innings, gave up a three-run double to the opposing pitcher and left with a side injury. But hey, at least it was miserably hot out and he was away from his family on a holiday.

Pirates 8, Phillies 5: OK, I’ve been riding the “don’t worry, the Phillies are going to find themselves soon and turn this thing around” train for a while now, but I’m hoppin’ off at the next station. Good teams just don’t drop three of four to the Pirates. Even injured ones. The Phillies aren’t a good team.

Rays 7, Twins 4: Three hits a piece for Evan Longoria and Sean Rodriguez as the Rays take three of four from the AL Central co-leaders. Nick Blackburn with the latest in a string of blah starts.

Padres 3, Astros 2: San Diego shuts down the Astros’ offense for the third game in a row and continues to lead the league in pitching. In other news, no Padres pitchers made the All-Star team.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 1: Brian Matusz picks up his first win in forever, shutting down the Sox on two hits over seven innings while striking out eight. Ronan Tynan sang “God Bless America” during the seventh-inning stretch for reasons that are known only to God and someone in the Red Sox’ promotions office. Frankly, I would have been less surprised to see the corpse of Woody Guthrie out there singing “This Land is Your Land.”  Probably would have enjoyed that more too, as long as he kept in the good socialist lyrics I like from the often-overlooked fifth and sixth verses.

Mets 9, Nationals 5: Last week I complained about the fact that Jason Bay was benched by Jerry Manuel on Canada Day. I had forgotten that he became a U.S. citizen last year, so maybe it wasn’t as big a deal. For what it’s worth he busted out the whuppin’ stick on his new nation’s birthday, going 2 for 5 with a triple and driving in four. Jerry Manuel brought in K-Rod with a four run lead despite the fact that he got shelled on Saturday and despite the fact that he has now pitched in five of the last six games. Save situation or no, you gotta give that guy a break, don’t you?

Yankees 7, Blues Jays 6: Mariano Rivera blew a save but the Yankees overcame their understandable shock and won it on a Marcus Thames walkoff single in the tenth. Brett Gardner hit a two-run inside the park home run that should have been scored an error on Dewayne Wise. Sun or no sun, the ball bounced off his friggin’ glove. How is that a home run?

Athletics 3, Indians 1: Vin Mazarro gave up a lone run on seven hits in seven and a third beating the Indians’ All-Star pitcher Fausto Carmona. Guess someone has to be an Indians’ All-Star what with that “everyone needs a representative” rule. Little known fact: there are also now rules which specify that everyone gets pizza after the game and that Jacob’s mom drops off and Aiden’s mom picks up.

Dodgers 3, Diamondbacks 1: Dan Haren = good. Diamondbacks’ bullpen = bad. Pretty much the story of the season. Matt Kemp continues to mock my criticism of him in last week’s HBT Extra by hitting a two-run homer. I mentioned B.J. Upton in that too, and he also had a good day yesterday. All I need now is Carlos Zambrano to make a surprise return tomorrow and pitch a perfect game to make my humiliation complete.

Marlins 3, Braves 2: Braves fans of a certain stripe — and I’m one of them — have been fretting about Tim Hudson’s low strikeout totals this year. But hey, he struck you seven yesterday and that’s good!  Braves fans who tend to take a bigger picture view of things realize that the strikeout total that matters more is what the other guy is doing to you, and Ricky Nolasco mowed down 11 Braves yesterday. Dan Uggla did all of the offensive damage for the Feesh, driving in two on a double and hitting a solo dinger.

Rockies 4, Giants 3: This bad boy went 15 innings with Todd Helton winning it for the Rockies on a sac fly. Sixteen pitchers were used. The game went 5:24. I love baseball just as much as the next guy, but jeez . . .

White Sox 5, Rangers 3: Two of three for the Chisox who are a single
game behind the division leaders.

Angels 11, Royals 0: Two home runs seven RBI for Torii Hunter and seven shutout innings for Joel Piniero. A rare national TV game for the Royals didn’t do much to change people’s perceptions about them, did it?

Bryce Harper struck out four times in a game for the first time in nearly four years

Washington Nationals' Bryce Harper reacts after he struck out during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Washington. The Phillies won 3-0.(AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has not exactly been strikeout-averse over his five-year career, but he has been pretty good about not bunching them up. Entering Sunday’s game against the Cardinals, Harper had struck out three or more times in a game only 21 times in 533 games. He had registered two four-strikeout games, the last of which occurred on August 21, 2012 — his rookie season.

On Sunday, Harper struck out three times against Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez and once against reliever Seung Hwan Oh for the dreaded golden sombrero. The reigning NL MVP has now equaled his walk and strikeout totals at 17 apiece.

Despite the rough afternoon, Harper still owns a lusty .272/.390/.679 triple-slash line with nine home runs and 24 RBI.

Chase Headley doesn’t think Yankee Stadium is as hitter-friendly as advertised

New York Yankees Chase Headley (12) breaks his bat on a ground out to third during the third inning of a baseball game against the Texas Rangers on Monday, April 25, 2016, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
AP Photo/Brandon Wade
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Yankees third baseman Chase Headley finished April without registering an extra-base hit. Across 71 plate appearances, he registered only nine hits for an uninspiring .150/.268/.150 triple-slash line. Speaking to David Laurilia of FanGraphs, Headley said that Yankee Stadium isn’t as hitter-friendly as many people think it is, and added that the shift has helped to limit his offensive success.

“Everybody talks about how good of a ballpark Yankee Stadium is to hit in, but it’s pretty big with the exception of right field,” said Headley. “The rest of it plays as big, or bigger, than most yards. It’s maybe a better fit for guys who hit the ball high down the line than it for guys who hit the ball like I have for a lot of my career.”

[…]

“Because of the shifting that’s going on now, if you hit the ball on the ground, for the most part you’re out,” Headley told me. “I’m trying to get the ball elevated — I want to hit it hard in the air — and if I never hit another ball on the ground, I’ll be happy.”

According to StatCorner.com, Yankee Stadium is indeed better for left-handed hitters, and particularly so when it comes to extra-base hits. It lists park factors for handedness, setting 100 as average. A higher number means it’s more hitter-friendly. Here are the left-right numbers as of today’s writing:

  • Singles: 101 for left-handed hitters, 102 for right-handed hitters
  • Doubles and triples: 101 LH, 82 RH
  • Home runs: 137 LH, 127 RH

Headley’s hypothesis seems to have some merit. But his claim that shifts have been hurting him doesn’t seem to hold up to the numbers.

babip

Headley’s ground ball BABIP (batting average on balls in play) this season is only .022 behind his career average of .239. As he’s only hit 23 ground balls total this season, the difference between .239 and .217 is less than one hit.

Where Headley’s BABIP is notably lower is line drives. His career average line drive BABIP is .698, but it’s only .333 on nine line drives in 2016. This could be simple bad luck or it could mean Headley is making worse contact. FanGraphs’ batted ball data suggests Headley has been pulling significantly fewer balls (36 percent to his 45 percent career average), and he’s making “hard” contact less often (21 percent versus his 31 percent career average). Overall, there’s been very little change in his ground ball rate versus his fly ball rate.

Headley mentioned to Laurila that if he could, he would try to hit fly balls to the pull side more often. “I’m working on that,” he said.

Carlos Martinez sued for battery, negligent transmission of STDs, and more

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez throws against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Tuesday, April 26, 2016, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)
AP Photo/Matt York
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Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez was given permission to leave the team on Friday in order to travel to Miami. Martinez was named in a lawsuit filed by a woman who claimed he knowingly trasmitted mutliple sexually trasmitted diseasese to her. She is seeking $1.5 million in damages for battery, negligent transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, fraud, and more, TMZ reported on Saturday.

Martinez rejoined the team and started on Sunday afternoon against the Nationals. His attorney called the allegations “100% false”.

The Cardinals are waiting for more information to find out if the league will investigate the matter under its domestic violence policy. Via Dan O’Neill of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, GM John Mozeliak said, “We wait. And once we learn more, then we’ll have more of an idea. These are things you just learn as you go.”

Should obstruction have been called on Ryan Webb?

Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar gestures to the dugout after hitting a triple against the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Friday, April 8, 2016, in Toronto. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)
Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP
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The Blue Jays had a comfortable 5-1 lead in the top of the ninth inning of Sunday afternoon’s game against the Rays, but one never knows when a base runner might be crucial. Kevin Pillar was on first base when reliever Ryan Webb threw over to first on a pickoff attempt and got him in a rundown.

First baseman Logan Morrison chased Pillar towards second base, lobbing the ball to shortstop Brad Miller. Miller sent Pillar back to first base, throwing to Webb covering the bag. Webb chased Pillar back towards second base and threw to second baseman Logan Forsythe. Forsythe chased Pillar back again, but Webb wasn’t able to get out of Pillar’s way. Second base umpire Mark Ripperger immediately signaled “no obstruction” and Pillar was easily tagged out after he was essentially bear hugged by Webb.

Here’s the MLB.com video.

Major League Baseball defines obstruction as “the act of a fielder who, while not in possession of the ball and not in the act of fielding the ball, impedes the progress of any runner.” Webb had already thrown the ball and Forsythe was in possession of it, so he couldn’t have been considered “in the act of fielding.”

At any rate, the Jays still won 5-1, giving them the series win over the Rays.