And That Happened: Tuesday's Scores and Highlights

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Twins 7, White Sox 6: The Twins jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first, couldn’t hold it and the Sox hung tight with them for most of the game. Then, down a run in the bottom of the 10th, Jim Thome hit a two-run walkoff bomb that in no way made Ozzie Guillen regret the fact that he lobbied hard all winter to be able to avoid having to carry a dedicated DH on his roster, thereby sending Thome in Minnesota’s direction rather than come back to the Sox where he said he wanted to go in the first place.

Rays 10, Rangers 1: We all talked about how this was a division series preview. If so, the Rangers have their backs up against the wall, previewly-speaking.  The AP story said that Matt Garza “scattered five hits over seven innings.”  I’d like to read one that says Rangers pitchers “scattered 15 hits over eight innings.” I mean, the act of scattering is always used to refer to hits that don’t amount to many runs, but there’s nothing inherent in the term that requires it.  The Rangers scattered the hits. The Rays scored following an inordinate amount of them.

Braves 10, Nationals 3: The Braves’ bats snoozed for five innings and then woke up just in time to give Mike Minor some run support after his night was over but while he was still the pitcher of record, thereby handing him his first career win. Martin Prado returned and got three hits. Adam Dunn threw a ball away like a quarterback on the five yard line who couldn’t find an open receiver in the end zone. Melky Cabrera got a clutch hit and made a nice catch in left. It was a really entertaining final few innings if you weren’t a Nats fan.

Phillies 9, Giants 3: Chase Utley returned and put up an 0 for 5, but it didn’t matter because Oswalt was dealing and the rest of the Philly bats broke it open late. The Phillies take a one game lead in the wild card race.

Red Sox 6, Angels 0: Clay Buchholz shuts the Halos down for seven innings and Ryan Kalish hits a grand slam. Darnell McDonald hit a solo homer that crashed through the rear window of a
Toyota parked on the top floor of the garage across Lansdowne Street. While Kalish got more RBIs for his, McDonald received 10 more points for style in the big ledger I keep next to my TV.  Dustin Pedroia returned and went 0 for 4 despite the fact that we were led to believe that there would be laser shows.

Padres 1, Cubs 0: Garland, Adams and Bell combine for the six-hit shutout. Randy Wells deserved a better fate (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER), but we all do, don’t we?

Astros 4, Mets 3: For weeks all we’ve been hearing in the media is constant hype about how Nelson Figueroa was going to get his chance to exact his revenge on the Mets for cutting him. So, like millions of others, I’m happy this is finally behind us. Oh — and I think it was the cutest thing in the world was how that, during the Braves-Nats game, FOX Sports South flashed this score up on the screen along with the Phillies-Giants score in its little “playoff race roundup” feature. It’s as if we can’t tell the Mets that they don’t matter anymore and have to keep up appearances or something.

Brewers 3, Cardinals 2: Three losses in a row for St. Louis, two to the Cubs and this one to the Brewers. I can’t recall a more yo-yoing contender in some time.

Royals 2, Indians 1: The usual power display from Yuniesky Betancourt and Wilson Betemit provide enough to give Zack Greinke the win. The Indians walked seven times. You probably need to score more than once when that happens.

Marlins 6, Pirates 0: Ricky Nolasco did it all. He won his fifth game in six starts, allowing only five singles, no extra base hits and a lone walk to go with nine strikeouts. He also went 2-for-3 and drove in
two runs. No word as to whether he broke out his powerful, paralyzing, perfect pachydermous percussion pitch.

Yankees 6, Tigers 2: Walkin’ five dudes and throwing 114 pitches in five innings is no way to go through life, Justin Verlander. In other news, the Yankees’ success against pitchers they’re facing for the eighth time continues.

Mariners 4, Orioles 0: Matt Tuiasosopo had four RBI and continued his streak of days on which I see his name in print and picture him playing quarterback for the Washington Huskies to about 67.

Dodgers 6, Rockies 0: Clayton Kershaw shuts the Rockies out over seven innings and the pen decides not to blow up this time.

Athletics 6, Blues Jays 2: Some early offense for the A’s, who haven’t had much of it lately. Dallas Braden outpitched Brandon Morrow in a battle of guys who might have been better off long term if they didn’t have that one kickass start this year.

Reds 6, Diamondbacks 2: The Reds open a dreaded west coast swing with a win which bumps their division lead to two games. Given how poorly they usually do out west, they need to give themselves as much of a cushion in Arizona as they can before hitting San Diego, L.A. and San Francisco.

Former outfielder Anthony Gose is throwing 99 m.p.h. fastballs in the minors

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Anthony Gose played for five seasons as an outfielder in the big leagues. He never hit well enough to be a regular, and a series of altercations with his minor league managers and coaches didn’t do too much for his future either.

His fastball, however, may eventually make up for all of that.

Toward the end of spring training it was reported that Gose would begin work as a pitcher. Given that he was a highly regarded high school pitching prospect with a plus fastball, it wasn’t a crazy notion. When Tigers camp broke, Gose stayed in Lakeland in extended spring training, throwing bullpen sessions and stuff.

Now he’s seeing game action. As the Detroit Free Press reports, Gose threw an inning for the Class-A Lakeland Flying Tigers against the Palm Beach Cardinals last night. He allowed one run on one hit with one strikeout and one walk, lighting up the radar gun at 99 m.p.h. This is the tweet from Lakeland’s assistant general manager:

The Free Press says that the Tigers’ vice president of player development, Dave Littlefield, is “very optimistic” about Gose’s progress.

Given that he’s still only 26 and he’s a lefty it wouldn’t shock me at all if he makes his way back to the bigs someday soon.

There is no need to lament the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie”

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Today in the New York Times Jay Caspian Kang writes about what he calls the loss of “The Great Hollywood Baseball Movie.” About how there are few if any big baseball movies anymore. Movies which traffic in baseball-as-metaphor-for-America with Jimmy Stewart (or Kevin Costner)-types playing characters which seem to transcend time, elevate our emotions and rack up the dollars at the box office.

It’s a bit of meandering column, with just as much time spent on Kang’s seeming dissatisfaction with modern baseball and baseball telecasts as his dissatisfaction with baseball cinema, but he winds it up with this, which sums his argument up well enough:

Baseball’s cinematic vision of Middle America no longer means what it once did. The failing family enterprise and the old, forbearing white — or Negro Leagues — ballplayer now remind us of an extinct vision of the country and the growing distance between Middle America and the coasts. The attempts to update the archival, sun-kissed, Midwestern vision — whether on last year’s “Pitch,” the Fox TV show about a woman pitching in the majors, or “Million Dollar Arm,” the 2014 Disney movie in which Jon Hamm goes to India to convert cricket bowlers into pitchers — are canceled or bomb at the box office.

You won’t be surprised that I take a great deal of issue with all of this.

Mostly because it only talks about one specific kind of baseball movie being AWOL from cinemas: the broad works which appeal to the masses and which speak to both the past, present and future, often with a hazy nostalgia in which love of baseball and love of America are portrayed as one and the same.

It’s worth noting, though, that such films are extraordinarily rare. There was a brief time when such things existed and did well at the box office — the 1980s had “The Natural,” “Field of Dreams,” “Bull Durham” and “Major League” in a relatively short period of time — but that’s the exception, not the rule.

Baseball movies are almost always niche flicks. Biopics made of recently deceased stars like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Weird slices of life like “The Bad News Bears” or “The Sandlot.” Quirky comedies that are baseball offshoots of larger cinematic trends like “Little Big League,” which was just the latest in a series of “kids doing adult things” movies popular at the time. Or “Rookie of the Year” which is essentially baseball’s version of one of those body-switch movies that come and go. Or “Mr. Baseball” which was just a fish-out-of-water comedy like any other.

We still get those kinds of smaller baseball movies fairly often. They’re still pretty decent and still do pretty decently at the box office, even if they’re no one’s idea of a blockbuster.

“Moneyball” was done well and did well, not as a mass appeal movie, but as one of many business/Silicon Valley flicks that have popped over the past few years. “Sugar” was a great movie, but a small movie, exploring a culture about which most people aren’t aware and basically serving as a character study. “42” is just an updated (and much better) version of those old biopics of baseball stars. “Everybody Wants Some” may be the quintessential niche baseball movie in that it’s a story about characters which just happen to have a lot of baseball in their lives. “Bull Durham” was like that too, but it just came along at the right time to become a massive hit. As many have noted, baseball was more background than plot in that movie, even if the background was amazingly well done. I’d argue that most good baseball movies use baseball like that rather than put it squarely in the foreground.

There will likely always be baseball movies, but they will almost always be smaller ones, not large blockbusters or Oscar bait with an epic sweep. Most baseball movies are like baseball itself in that they lack a grand consensus. Baseball is not The National Pastime anymore — it’s just one of many forms of sports and entertainment available to the masses — so it follows that the movies which deal with it will likewise not have that massive cross-market appeal.

I think that’s a good thing. Smaller baseball movies more accurately reflect the sport’s place in the culture. To portray baseball as something larger than what it actually is opens the door to a lot of artistic and cultural dishonesty and runs the risk of creating some really bad art.

I mean, have you seen “Field of Dreams?” Bleech.