And That Happened: Monday's Scores and Highlights

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Rays 6, Rangers 4: Once again, a highly touted pitching matchup fails to yield a great pitchers duel. David Price walked five guys, but only gave up two runs. Cliff Lee was cruising, striking out ten guys, but he hit a brick wall in the eighth, giving up a series of hits while watching his 4-2 led turn into a 6-4 deficit. Circumstances conspired to keep me from watching this game, but anyone who did: why did Ron Washington wait so long to pull Lee when he was apparently throwing batting practice by the time the eighth rolled around?  It seems like Lee has gone really long quite often since coming over to Texas. Does anyone realize that, yes, they’re going to need him come October, so maybe he could use a bit of a rest? Especially when he’s in trouble?

Blue Jays 3, Athletics 1: Shaun Marcum is the latest to flirt with a no-no, losing his in the seventh on a Connor Jackson homer. That’s all he’d give up, however, finishing with a complete game one-hitter. Jose Bautista hit what, at the time, was ruled an inside-the-park home run because my fellow New Albany, Ohio resident — umpire Tim Timmons — ruled the ball in play. After the game it was ruled that the ball actually left the park, making it a regular homer. Strange. People from my town never make mistakes.

Pirates 7, Marlins 1: Pittsburgh breaks its seven game losing streak. Garrett Jones and Pedro Alvarez each had three RBI and James McDonald gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. The Pirates are 13-48 on the road and 27-30 at home. Is this heaven? No, it’s Pittsburgh.

Braves 4, Dodgers 3: If you would have told me last winter that Melky Carbrera and Rick Ankiel would be hitting back-to-back in the Braves lineup in August I would have killed myself. But there they are. On Sunday Ankiel took a couple of walks and was a key contributor to a 13-run outburst and last night Melky had a clutch two-run single to bring the Braves back from 3-1 deficit to win the game in the bottom of the ninth.  I don’t recommend counting on these guys to be heroes — and I may still kill myself before this is all said and done — but on those rare occasions they do come through it is, well, not satisfying really, but certainly something.

Orioles 5, Mariners 4: A walkoff bunt single for Adam Jones. That’s something you don’t see every day.

Mets 3, Astros 1: Taking the lead on a ninth inning wild pitch. That’s something you don’t see every day. You also don’t see RBI triples from Jeff Francoeur that often, but he provided the insurance. And, introducing your new Mets closer: Hisanori Takahashi. I was hoping for Oliver Perez, but you can’t always get what you want.

Padres 9, Cubs 5: Who went and woke up Miguel Tejada? Dude went 4 for 5
with a double and a couple of RBI. He’s been a nice pickup for the
Padres so far. Rare shaky night for the Padres’ pen, though. It took
five relievers to nail this one down.

Tigers 3, Yankees 1: Max Scherzer keeps the Yankees bats silent (6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 6K). A-Rod and Nick Swisher left the game early with various ailments. Derek Jeter grounded out into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded. I’m sure the people who keep track of how clutch he is and inform the rest of us about it all the damn time missed the play while watering flowers or walking the dog of holding their hands over their ears, eyes closed, yelling “LA LA LA LA LA I CAN’T HEAR YOU!!!” Oh, and expect Scherzer’s performance to bring forth “The Yankees do poorly against guys they face for the first time” stuff we’ve been hearing so much of lately. Anyone have any numbers on this? It seems like fans of every team says this sort of thing.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.