And That Happened: Wednesday's Scores and Highlights

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Marlins 16, Nationals 10: Fisticuffsmanship! Nyjer Morgan’s mound-charge was pretty good until he whiffed on that punch, but the star of this show was Gabby Sanchez, who came over from first base with a move that put me in mind of Manny Fernandez’s flying burrito. Wait, you’re not telling me you don’t know who Manny Fernandez is, do you? He teamed with the Boogie Woogie Man Jimmy Valiant for cryin’ out loud! They took the tag team belt from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Express! Really, you don’t know him?  Philistines.

Reds 6, Brewers 1: Aroldis Chapman faced six batters, struck out three and hit 103.9 mph on the radar gun. Only Joel Zumaya has thrown a faster pitch in the few short years Pitch f/x has been around. Yikes.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 2: Brandon Allen’s first major league action this year was occasioned by a home run and a couple of nice plays in the outfield. Not bad for a guy who has never played left field in the bigs before. Oh, and the Padres are just happy that the Cardinals’ late-season implosion is getting more attention than theirs is. For now.

Giants 2, Rockies 1: Welcome back to the land of the living, Tim Lincecum (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 9K). Three games are now all that separate the Giants and the Padres.

Twins 2, Tigers 1: Max Scherzer deserved better (9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 9K), but so too did Francisco Liriano who threw seven shutout innings and got a no decision as well. Danny Valencia won it with an RBI single in the 10th.

Braves 4, Mets 1: Freddie Freeman’s debut isn’t going to do anything to keep Derrek Lee on the bench (0 for 3 with a K), but old men like Jason Heyward and Tommy Hanson were able to carry the load. Pretty sure I own underwear older than all three of ’em.

Rangers 4, Royals 3: I’m crestfallen that Francoeur didn’t report to the Rangers in time to make it into this one. The Royals probably are too, because that’s one fewer game they have to scout Frenchy before their as-inevitable-as-the-sun-rising-tomorrow signing of him this winter.

Yankees 4, Athletics 3: A.J. Burnett returns from the land of the living dead to get his first win in a long damn time (6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 8K). The Yankees maintain their one-game lead in the East.

Rays 2, Blue Jays 1: Sean Rodriguez was a double short of the cycle (take THAT Gleeman!) and David Price picked up his 16th win. Which, as you can see from the Tigers-Twins game, is a totally useful statistic.

Phillies 5, Dodgers 1: Roy Oswalt walked six dudes in six innings, but he got away with it because he only allowed one hit. Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 dudes but didn’t have a win to show for it in part because he gave up two homers. Oh, and because the Dodgers bullpen kind of sucks these days. There’s probably some kind of lesson in there somewhere.

Red Sox 9, Orioles 6: Again, wins don’t mean anything, but Jon Lester is now 13-0 lifetime against Baltimore, and that’s pretty cool. Well, not for Baltimore, but you know what I mean.

Astros 5, Cardinals 2: I hit this one up yesterday, but suffice it to say that Jeff Suppan is not who I think of when I think of the term “stopper.”

Cubs 5, Pirates 3: Tom Gorzelanny got knocked out of the game when a comebacker hit his right hand in the third, but the bullpen kept the Cubbies safe and dry for six innings.  Fukudome was 3 for 3 with a couple of doubles an RBI and a walk. Dude had an outstanding August and looks to be continuing his tear.

Angels 4, Mariners 2: Matsui’s two-run homer won the game for Anaheim, but Franklin Gutierrez had the snag of the game.

White Sox 6, Indians 4: Alex Rios hit a solo shot and Paul Konerko hit a three-run homer in the eighth to bring the Sox back from a 4-1 deficit. Manny’s debut only amounted to a single, but if you’re really starving for Manny news, you can read this inside report about how he really got to the White Sox. Shocking, I know, but I believe that’s what really happened.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]