And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Padres 8, Giants 2: So much for Jonathan Sanchez’s big prediction. The Padres take two of three from San Francisco and run their lead to 3.5 games. Another distressingly bad start from Tim Lincecum (3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER). The scary question of the day: is he just lost, or is he attempting to pitch through an injury?

Twins 4, Athletics 2: David Pinto at Baseball Musings coined the term “short shutout” for a pitcher who didn’t go the distance but who didn’t allow any runs. I guess Kevin Slowey gets a “short no-hitter,” then, after being pulled following seven innings of no-hit ball. The fans booed Ron Gardenhire when he pulled Slowey. Gardenhire: “I’d boo me too.”  But he made the right call.

Reds 2, Marlins 0: Homer Bailey with six shutout innings, but the star
of this game was Reds’ radio color man Jeff Brantley who, during the
broadcast, was asked by a listener if he preferred Texas, Carolina, or
Kansas City barbecue. I was on the road and missed it, but my good
friend and former co-worker Mark was listening and he gives us a very
close-to-verbatim transcript:

“Debate?  The debate is I like all of them.  How bout that.  The thing
that you have to realize is that if you’re from Texas, or Kansas City,
or Carolina, well, obviously you think your barbecue is the best.  If
you are a barbecue connoisseur as I claim to be and I know that I am,
they’re all good.  That’s why you have different types of barbecue – so
you don’t have to eat the same thing every day.  Monday you’ll have
Kansas City, Tuesday you’ll have Carolina, Wednesday you’ll have Texas. 
Then you go from those three days of ribs into the Boston Butt and into
the pulled pork.  Then you spend the weekend with the roasted chicken.”

Jeff Brantley really brings the game to life.

Royals 1, Yankees 0: Brian Bullington, bitches, you better aks someone (8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 5K).

Braves
13, Dodgers 1
: No Chipper? No Heyward? No problem. Now, if Rick Ankiel
will just walk twice a game and if Alex Gonzalez will just drive in four every
day, the Bravos will be sitting pretty. OK, that’s jocularity. The
reality: for all the hand wringing over the injuries and the concerns
over people going cold in the lineup, Atlanta is going to live or die
based on the rotation. They can carry through if Jurrjens, Hanson and
Hudson stay solid. If not, forget it.

Indians 9, Mariners 1: Improbable: Travis Hafner comes off the DL to hit a grand slam off King Felix. More improbable: Hernandez gave up six runs, but none of them were earned. Even more improbable: Justin Masterson gave up only one hit, but walked six dudes and threw six shutout innings.

Rays 3, Orioles 2: I think we can all agree that Jeremy Hellickson is pretty good (6 IP, 3 H 1 ER, 5K). The Rays move on to face the Rangers now, which should be fun.

Tigers 13, White Sox 8: Chicago came back from being down 5-1 to take the lead and then the Tigers stepped on the accelerator. The Chisox are spinning out of control.

Nationals 5, Diamondbacks 3: A better start than last time for Strasburg (5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 7K), but a no-decision on the day. The two unearned runs were his fault, by the way, thanks to a throwing error. A bunch of dumbass fans ran onto the field to protest the Arizona immigration law. I don’t care what your issue is. I don’t care if I subscribe to it or not. Don’t interrupt friggin’ baseball games OK? Because if you do, I will totally change my view on one issue, and that’s on whether or not trespassing fans should be tased.

Astros 8, Pirates 2: Seven straight losses for Pittsburgh. Which is good, because I had a September series at PNC in mind for a little road trip, and frankly, I didn’t want to have to fight for tickets.

Cubs 9, Cardinals 7: The Cards follow up the big emotional sweep of the Reds by dropping two of three to the DOA Cubs at home, surrendering the division lead to Cincy. Derrek Lee hit two bombs, giving him four in three games. Too bad the whole “take a couple days off due to bereavement leave and come back and rake” thing isn’t the kind of routine anyone wants to follow.

Rangers 7, Red Sox 3: Texas is now 3-2 in the eight game Yankees-Red Sox-Rays gauntlet through which they’re running. Of course, I don’t suppose it will be 103 degrees in Arlington in October, so we may only be able to learn so much from this test.

Rockies 6, Brewers 5: A walkoff RBI single for Troy Tulowitzki in the latest  act of the “Trevor Hoffman is done” play.

Blue Jays 4, Angels 1: Rickey Romero celebrates his contract extension with a spiffy day on the mound (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER). No homers for Jose Bautistia this series, which is a rarity these days.

Phillies 3, Mets 1: New York scored nine runs during their six game homestand. The only good thing that happened for them was when Angel Pagan thew out Kyle Kendrick out 9-3 on what should have been a single to right. By several steps. And that’s less good than freaky and mercifully game-shortening.

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)
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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)
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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)
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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.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.