And That Happened: Sunday's Scores and Highlights

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Phillies 7, Nationals 6: The Phillies are white hot and may very well be the best team in baseball at the moment. They were down 6-3 in the ninth but, hey, no problem: They got a two-run single by Ryan Howard and a two-run homer by Jayson Werth and with that they won their seventh in a row. Philly has only dropped three games in September, and now they have their number one, number one-A and number one-B starters going against the Braves at home this week.

Giants 9, Brewers 2: The NL West has been tighter than a duck’s butt lately (note: I think Dan Rather said that one once about an election. I’m not
really sure), but the Giants take over the top spot. Jose Guillen hit a grand slam in the first and the
Giants never looked back. Thanks to the run support — which he has not
had a hell of a lot of recently — Barry Zito got his first win since
July 16th.

Cardinals 4, Padres 1: Adam Wainwright shut the Padres down to win his
19th. San Diego falls into second place, a half game behind San Francisco and 2.5 back of the
Braves in the wild card.

Dodgers 7, Rockies 6: The Rockies jumped all over Clayton Kershaw,
grabbing a 6-1 lead after two innings. That’s all they’d get, though, as
L.A. chipped away at the lead, tying it on a Matt Kemp double in the
ninth and winning it on an A.J. Ellis — A.J. Ellis? — yes, A.J. Ellis
RBI single in the 11th. This one ended in a brisk four hours and
twenty-one minutes.

Angels 6, Rays 3: A couple of homers from Bobby Abreu and a win for Scott Kazmir give the Angels a series win. Not exactly the way Tampa Bay wanted to enter the Yankees series.

Orioles 4, Yankees 3: Luke Scott hits the tying homer off Mariano Rivera in the ninth and comes around to score the winning run on an RBI single in the 11th. Not exactly the way New York wanted to enter the Rays series.

Braves 6, Mets 3: The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then decided to go to sleep or watch football games on their iPhones or something. Derrek Lee smacked a grand slam off double-agent Manny Acosta to help the Braves complete the sweep.

Astros 4, Reds 3: Who ever would have guessed that Brett Myers would be having the season he’s having? Another sharp outing: 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER. He lowered his ERA to 2.76 on the season. He’s 8-0 with a 2.01 ERA at home.

Pirates 4, Diamondbacks 3: I don’t know that Kirk Gibson is managing for the permanent gig right now or if the front office has already made up its mind on the matter. But to the extent his destiny is in his own hands, getting swept by the Pirates ain’t gonna help him.

Mariners 2, Rangers 1: The Mariners have lost a ton of games this year due to their failure to score runs. This past weekend they won two of three despite only scoring five times.

Athletics 6, Twins 2: Losing the game sucks, but losing Joe Mauer to “a jammed knee,” whatever the hell that is, sucks worse. Ron Gardenhire was ejected in the fourth after Jim Thome flew out to center and Delmon Young was called out at second for failing to tag up at first. Gardenhire’s argument was that the centerfielder dropped the ball — which he did — but the ump said it was after the catch and on the transfer, not a drop of the fly itself. Which seems right based on the replay. Just the latest bit of evidence for the need for an outfield fly rule.

Royals 6, Indians 4: This one was alright — Yuniesky Betancourt stole home on a double steal — but Saturday night’s game was the real gem: Time of game: 2:57. Time of rain delays: 3:40.

Cubs 13, Marlins 3: Tyler Colvin’s injury is nothing short of horrific — the bat shard punctured his chest wall and required a chest tube to keep his lung from collapsing.  It was also nothing short of avoidable. Ban maple bats now.

Red Sox 6, Blues Jays 0: Jon Lester won his fifth straight and upped his win total to 18 on the year. Jose Bautista homered on Friday and Saturday — he’s at 49 on the season now — but he grounded out with the sacks jacked twice in this one. The loss officially eliminated the Jays from playoff contention.

Tigers 9, White Sox 7: The Tigers had a 7-3 lead as late as the seventh but blew it, only to win it in extras. Brandon Inge scored the winning run, but he probably shouldn’t have been in a position to do so: he ran to first on a wild pitch on strike three, A.J. Pierzynski threw down to try and nail him and actually did — on the foot — and the ball went flying, sending Inge to third. Oh, and Manny struck out with the bases loaded to end the game. I have this feeling some Chicago writers (and maybe some Boston and L.A. writers) will consider that symbolic of something.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

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.