And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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White Sox 12, Royals 6: K.C. had a 6-0 lead in the first and, thanks in part to Paul Konerko hitting a couple of two-run bombs . . . lost. I guess we have to just keep on trusting The Process.  Oh, and speaking of the process:  I make a religious point of not watching NFL football on Sundays when competitive baseball is being played (and a philosophical point of not watching NFL football on Sundays after baseball is over), but reader Levi Stahl alerted me to something that happened on the football field yesterday. Take it away Levi:

Fourth quarter, Lions-Bears: the Lions threw a heck of a touchdown pass from about midfield, the
receiver made a strong, leaping catch, was pulled down and rolled over,
in control of the ball the whole way, then, as he hit the ground, let
the ball go. It was obviously, in every way, from every angle, a
dramatic, game-winning TD 

But then it wasn’t. Apparently there’s new emphasis this
year on what the commentators (and a former head of officials back in
the studio) kept calling and calling and calling “the process.” The
receiver apparently has to maintain control of the ball throughout “the
process,” which, apparently now means not letting it go once you’re
down, successfully, in the end zone. It was bizarre: the announcers
weren’t horrified by this travesty of sports justice: they just kept
talking about “the process” and the fact that this was how the NFL was
going to be officiating this year, and that they’d warned everybody.
Very few bad calls in baseball that I’ve seen have
been anything like as bad as this was, and usually when we see a bad
call in baseball, it’s acknowledged as such, eventually. Here the
emphasis wasn’t on the way that fans had been robbed of what they’d seen
on the field, it was on the all-knowing, all-seeing NFL rulekeepers.

I don’t know enough about that rule or NFL officiating in general these days to say anything beyond what Levi said, but I totally buy the credulous announcers thing. Baseball can be messy sometimes, but I think of it as messy in the way democracy is messy. The NFL is like some authoritarian regime, in which fans and a healthy portion of the overly-compliant media just say “well, the NFL has decided it should be so, so it is.” Screw it. I’d rather argue all day over dumb baseball stuff than calmly accept dumb football stuff, and I don’t care how good the TV ratings are.

Oh, and if you think I mentioned all of that simply so I can take a potshot at the NFL on its opening weekend, let me be absolutely clear: you’re damn right. Being a baseball fan these past several days has been like belonging to some tiny religious sect that worships and exalts austerity at Christmas time. Everyone in America is celebrating the return of their gambling, beer drinking and fantasy sports pretext, and I couldn’t care less.

Giants 6, Padres 1: San Francisco takes three of four from the Padres in Petco and are now (kinda) tied for the NL West lead. They’re a game behind in the loss column. Lincecum allowed one run in seven with nine strikeouts. Sandoval had a great leaping catch. Buster Posey drove in a couple. Mat Latos had his worst start since April. The Padres and the Giants meet one more time: October 1st-3rd — closing weekend — at AT&T Park. Can we make it a round robin and throw the Rockies in too?

Rockies 4, Diamondbacks 2: Ten straight for the Rockies who, even if they don’t end up making the playoffs, have bought another two or three years of “well, we all know the Rockies are capable of going on amazing runs!” talk. Jason Giambi won it for Colorado on a two-run walkoff home run. Anyone who thought a couple of years ago that Jason Giambi would be hitting game-winning home runs in pennant races in 2010, raise your hand. You — with the hand up? I know you’re lyin’.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 4: I see my kiss-of-death endorsements continue to do their magic. Just the other day on HBT Daily I said that Rafael Soriano is the best closer pitching for a contender (non-Mariano Rivera division) and that I’d trust him with my life. I guess even the best ones blow a save once in a while. This one was blown in only five pitches: strike, single, strike, strike, Adam Lind home run, ballgame.

Tigers 6, Orioles 2: The Tigers scored five runs in the eighth, with the big blow being Miguel Cabrera’s bases loaded double. MVP! MVP! MVP! You can still chant that when your team is .500, can’t you?

Pirates 3, Reds 1: It’s been quite a sight to see Reds relievers not named Aroldis Chapman blowing games recently. Francisco Cordero allowed three runs in the ninth and it could have been more, actually, but for some dumb luck like comebackers with the bases loaded.

Twins 6, Indians 2: The Twins won their 4,000th game.  Not this season, though. That would be, like, a record or something. Since the franchise moved to Minnesota from Washington. The combined win total of the Twins and Senators is (I think) 4,080. The White Sox are all but put away at this point, but the Twins can put the stake in their heart this week, as they have a three-game series. Mmmmm . . . stake.

Angels 3, Mariners 0: Someone the other day — I think it was Keith Law — mentioned that the Mariners are on pace to have the worst AL offense since the advent of the DH. I haven’t looked at the numbers myself, but I’d buy it. Ray Oyler could probably DH for this team. And he’s been dead for nearly 30 years!

Phillies 3, Mets 0: Oswalt dominated the Mets, shutting them out on 113 pitches. Given that everyone on the Mets knows that they’re basically playing for nothing the rest of the way you can probably expect to see more of this sort of thing between now and October 3rd.

Brewers
2, Cubs 0
: Yovani Gallardo shut the Cubbies out for seven and the pen
took it the rest of the way in another listless performance from the
losing team. Maybe the Mets and Cubs really just wanted to watch the late NFL games?

Rangers 4, Yankees 1: Cliff Lee just sent a message to the Yankees that (a) they don’t want any part of him in a short playoff series; and (b) they’re going to have to unload the Brinks truck to sign him this winter. 8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER. The Rangers swept the Yankees, though New York somehow continues to hold on to their lead in the East. I reserve the right to change my mind between now and this afternoon, but I think for the first time this year we’re going to have our first non-AL East team leading the Power Rankings when they come out today.

Red Sox 5, Athletics 3: Beckett beats Braden, in a matchup of two guys who haven’t mattered a whole heck of a lot this season since, oh, mid-May.

Astros 7, Dodgers 4: Houston and L.A. split four. Oh, and John Lindsey got his first major league hit. A single to left, pinch hitting for Ronald Belisario. He’s the only reason to root for the Dodgers as the season winds down.

Marlins 6, Nationals 5: Mike Stanton bangs two out the yard as the Feesh sweep the Gnats. Their season series is over too, with Florida beating Washington 13-5.

Cardinals 7, Braves 3: This Pujols fella? Yeah, he can play a little bit (2 for 5, 2 HR). But hey, at least with dumb old football on opposite this one at least no one was watching it, right?

Indians sign Michael Martinez to minor league deal

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There’s something irresistible about Michael Martinez, at least where the Indians are concerned. Six weeks after parting ways with the utility infielder/outfielder, the Indians re-signed Martinez for the fifth time in three years, committing to a minor league contract that will see the 34-year-old in Triple-A Columbus this week. He was designated for assignment by the Rays last Thursday after slashing just .077/.172/.077 through his first 29 PA with the club.

Martinez bounced around the American League last season, logging four games with the Red Sox after the Indians jettisoned him in a trade for cash considerations. He returned to Cleveland on waivers and finished the year with a cumulative .238/.267/.307 batting line, contributing one home run and a .574 OPS in just 106 PA. He found more consistency in the minors, touting a .288 average, 11 extra-base hits and 12 RBI in 114 PA for Triple-A Columbus last season, but didn’t receive enough playing time to develop his stuff at the big league level.

Martinez will rejoin fellow infielders Chris Colabello, Nellie Rodriguez, Josh Wilson, Ronny Rodriguez, Todd Hankins, Yandy Diaz, Eric Stamets and Giovanny Urshela on the Clippers’ roster.

And That Happened: Saturday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the rest of Saturday’s scores and highlights:

Athletics 10, White Sox 2: Matt Olson, Jaycob Brugman and Franklin Barreto stole the spotlight on Saturday, going deep for the first home runs of their respective major league careers. Not only was it a franchise first for the Athletics, but it was the first time three rookies accomplished the feat for any major league team to date. The last trio to pull it off did so for the Kansas City Packers of the Federal League, when Duke Kenworthy, Art Kruger and John Potts went yard for their first home runs in 1914.

Lost in all the mayhem? James Shieldscareer 2,000th strikeout, a 1-2 knuckle curveball that caught Khris Davis looking to end the second inning.

Rangers 8, Yankees 1: Aaron Judge may be unstoppable, but the Yankees are not. The rookie slugger collected his league-best 26th home run on Saturday afternoon, putting the Yankees on the board with a solo shot during the sixth inning.

It was a mistake Texas’ right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx wouldn’t make again, shutting down four of the next five batters he faced and leaving the bullpen to polish off the win with two scoreless frames.

Royals 3, Blue Jays 2: Jason Vargas may not have the pinpoint control of Ivan Nova or the sheer strikeout power of Chris Sale, but as of Saturday afternoon, he now owns the best record in the American League. He cruised to his 11th win against the Blue Jays, spinning seven innings of two-run ball and striking out just two of 27 batters. Marco Estrada matched him pitch for pitch, but lost the edge after Alex Gordon tripled to break the 2-2 tie in the seventh.

Nationals 18, Reds 3: It’s safe to say this was not the season debut Homer Bailey had been anticipating. The veteran right-hander was activated from the 60-day disabled list on Saturday and lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Nationals’ blistering offensive drive. A six-run second inning forced Bailey’s early exit and brought his ERA to a bloated 43.20 mark after he surrendered eight runs on six hits and two walks. Trea Turner and Michael Taylor were the centerpiece of the Nationals’ 18-run drubbing, combining for nine hits, two home runs and five RBI as the Nats coasted to their 45th win of the year.

Orioles 8, Rays 3: Goodbye, ugly losing streak. Hello, Dylan Bundy. The Orioles pulled within five games of the division lead on Saturday, giving up fewer than five runs for the first time since June 2. Bundy led the charge, issuing three runs on five hits and four walks and striking out eight over seven innings for his eighth win of the season. An explosive four-run effort propelled the club to a comfortable lead in the seventh inning, while Manny Machado‘s eighth-inning sac fly put the finishing touches on an 8-3 finale.

Cubs 5, Marlins 3: After 12 years in the majors, Cubs’ veteran lefty Jon Lester still had some career firsts left to record — including his first win against the Marlins. He cut through Miami’s lineup with expert precision during Saturday’s win, giving up a J.T. Realmuto home run in the first inning and settling down to retire 18 of the next 20 batters he faced. The next team on his list? The Red Sox, whom the Cubs are not scheduled to face this season (barring a chance meeting in the World Series, of course).

Braves 3, Brewers 1: Is R.A. Dickey… good again? The knuckleballer commanded his third quality start on Saturday, squelching the Brewers’ offense with just one run and six strikeouts over seven innings. His only snafu came in the first inning, when he turned to pick off Travis Shaw at third base and was instead penalized with a balk, his first of the year.

The Freeze, meanwhile, was not nearly as successful as his parent club, missing the finish line by mere inches during the customary between-inning sprint around the warning track.

Twins 4, Indians 2: There’s nothing more tragic than a solid pitching effort gone to waste. Corey Kluber allowed two runs and fanned 13 batters for his fifth quality start and second no-decision of the month, dropping what looked like a guaranteed win after Brian Dozier and Chris Gimenez reclaimed the lead with a pair of home runs in the eighth and ninth.

Angels 6, Red Sox 3: Not everyone was as delighted about Kole Calhoun‘s run-scoring balk as the Angels were. Calhoun plated a run in the seventh inning after Fernando Abad stopped his delivery on a 3-1 pitch, boosting the Angels’ lead to three runs and eventually securing their 6-3 win. Neither Abad nor Red Sox manager John Farrell saw eye-to-eye with crew chief Bill Miller, however, and contested the ruling after Abad claimed that he inadvertently balked after seeing Calhoun call for a time out.

Mets 5, Giants 2: From injuries to slumps, it’s been a rough ride for the Mets this month. Enter Jacob deGrom, who crafted his third consecutive quality start with eight innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and going 1-for-3 with a single against the Giants’ Johnny Cueto. The Giants, on the other hand, became the first team to record 50 losses this season after the bullpen blew a 1-1 tie in the eighth.

Pirates 7, Cardinals 3: Look, there may be plenty of legitimate baseball-related reasons to skip out on a wedding reception. I can’t think of any compelling enough to leave your own wedding, however, at least not just to watch Lance Lynn give up seven runs during the Cardinals’ 40th loss of the year.

Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 0: Clayton Kershaw is still very, very good. After faltering in a six-run outing against the Mets last week, the Dodgers’ ace returned with six shutout innings against the Rockies, striking out eight and matching Jason Vargas’ league-best 11 wins. He manufactured his own run support, too, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the third inning to cement the club’s four-run lead:

Padres 7, Tigers 3: The Tigers continued their eight-game skid with a tough loss at PETCO Park on Saturday, marring six solid innings from Anibal Sanchez with a five-run implosion in the eighth inning. Andrew Romine put up two of the Tigers’ three runs on an RBI double and single, but wasn’t able to single-handedly rally from a four-run deficit in the ninth.

Astros 5, Mariners 2: Sometimes, it’s difficult to identify the exact moment when a game swings out of control. Other times, it’s all too obvious. For the Mariners, that moment could be traced back to one line drive in the seventh inning:

In Mitch Haniger‘s defense, clearing 69 feet in under five seconds is a feat few can pull off, even with the game on the line.

Diamondbacks 9, Phillies 2: Nothing the Diamondbacks and Phillies did — not even the Ben Lively home run that made this play possible — was as impressive as the coordination and grace of this lone D-backs fan: