And That Happened: Thursday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 5, Indians 2: Cleveland was done in yesterday by two homers for
Carl Crawford, a strong start from Wade Davis and a
sociopathic heel-turn from LeBron James
.  Cleveland is a tough city, though.  They handled a burning river. They handled the implosion of basically the entire economy. They handle about ten feel of snow every winter.  They’re hurt and angry today, but they’ll get over this. It takes a hell of a lot more than the vicissitudes of some rude young basketball player to keep Cleveland down.

Yankees 3, Mariners 1: Alex Rodriguez took well to his first night of no longer being sports’ most hated figure, hitting a two run RBI single in the ninth which proved to be the game winner.

Padres 7, Nationals 1: Mat Latos shut out the Nats over seven innings and went 2 for 3 with a home run. Four homers in all for the Padres.

Rockies 4 Cardinals 2: Look on the bright side Cardinals fans: the pen didn’t blow this one. And hey, you probably penciled in the Ubaldo Jimenez start as the one you’d drop in this series anyway, right?

Giants 9, Brewers 3: Nothing like a trip to Milwaukee to cure what ails an offense. The Giants busted out the whuppin’ sticks in sweeping the Brewers this week. Four RBI for Aubrey Huff and another home run for Buster Posey. Only bad part: Barry Zito was staked to a 6-0 lead but couldn’t even last the five innings necessary to claim the win.  The Z-man — which no one has ever called him to my knowledge, but why the hell not? — hasn’t won a game in a month.

Phillies 4, Reds 3: Both Ryan Madson and Brad Lidge blow leads in the late innings, but the pen held once the game went into extras and Philly won it on a walkoff bomb from Brian Schneider. Newly-named All-Star Joey Votto stayed hot, hitting a homer of his own.

Orioles 6, Rangers 4: A day after I give them the Detective Munch treatment the O’s show some friggin’ moxie. Down 4-0 in the fifth, Baltimore claws back. They had help in the eighth though, with Frank Francisco plunking a guy to load the bases, Darren Oliver coming in and  plunking the very next guy to force in a run and then walking the guy after that to force in yet another run. Oh, and Nolan Ryan is telling reporters he might not be the next owner of the Rangers now, so all in all a pretty craptacular day for Texas fans.

Astros 2, Pirates 0: I hit this one up yesterday, but suffice it to say that Roy Oswalt did nothing to discourage the many scouts following him around.

White Sox 1, Angels 0: Aaron hit this one up yesterday, but suffice it to say that Torii Hunter is not a happy camper.

Blue Jays 8, Twins 1: The Twins get bombed and are now two back of the Tigers and a game and a half behind Chicago.  Are they getting desperate to trade for Lee yet?

Dodgers 3, Cubs 2: Clayton Kershaw struck out 12 and Rafael Furcal went 3 for 3 with a homer and 2 RBI.  Fact from the game notes: “The Dodgers took a 1,019-1,017 lead in the all-time series between the
teams that began in 1890.” What people don’t know is that the Dodgers had a distinct advantage in the series for a while, but that in 1911 it began to even up when the Cubs called up a young starting pitcher named Jamie Moyer.

Diamondbacks 10, Marlins 4: Smallest crowd in Diamondbacks’ history at 16,664. The Marlins were impressed, though.  They can’t draw that on Free Money and Donuts Night.

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)
Associated Press
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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.

A-Rod knows how to keep his bat dry

New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez watches his RBI single during the first inning of a baseball game against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday, April 19, 2016, at Yankee Stadium in New York. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
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Alex Rodriguez had a big night in a losing effort last night. He homered and drove in four. In the past week or so he’s raised his average over 50 points and may be finally shaking off the offseason rust. When you’re over 40 it takes you longer to do everything.

But even if it takes his reflexes some time to get up to speed, you can never take away the knowledge and experience of a savvy veteran with a high baseball I.Q. For example, whether he’s hitting or not, the man knows that it’s important to keep your bat dry on a rainy night:

Sean Burnett opts out of his Dodgers deal, to sign with the Braves

Washington Nationals relief pitcher Sean Burnett walks off the mound after being pulled during the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball's National League division series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
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In early April the Dodgers agreed to a minor league contract with pitcher Sean Burnett after he didn’t make the Washington Nationals’ roster out of spring training. He was assigned to Triple-A Oklahoma City. As is usually the case, veterans like him have an opt-out if they don’t make the big club after a certain amount of time, and Burnett has opt-ed out, realizing that he’s likely not in the Dodgers’ plans.

But he could be in the Braves’ plans. They stink on ice. Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that he’s signing with them and will report to Triple-A Gwinnett tomorrow.

Burnett, 33, hasn’t appeared in the majors since he pitched three games for the Angels in 2014 and hasn’t pitched regularly in the bigs since 2012. Tommy John surgery will do that to a guy. He did toss eight and two-thirds scoreless innings for the Nationals during spring training and has allowed only two earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings of relief work for Oklahoma City. There may still be something there. Innings will need to be eaten in Atlanta this year. Burnett may be able to eat them.