Minnesota Twins v New York Yankees

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Twins 5, Yankees 4: CC Sabathia was one of many pitchers who were dominant on this night — the big man shut out the Twins on two hits over seven innings — but his bullpen betrayed him. Rafael Soriano, to be specific, who loaded the bases on two walks and a single when he came in for the eighth. He was pulled after one more walk gave the Twins their first run and was replaced by Dave Robertson, who promptly allowed a bases-clearing double to Delmon Young. Mariano Rivera did his job in the ninth, but Boone Logan walked the leadoff batter in the 10th and then gave up two straight singles for the loss.  And if you think this will be brushed off as a mere bullpen blip by the New York media, know this: Soriano bailed from the clubhouse after the game before the press could talk to him. The New York media doesn’t like that:

I can’t tell you how Soriano will handle his implosion. He bolted the clubhouse before talking to reporters, leaving his teammates to answer for his mess. Nick Swisher, Dave Robertson and Boone Logan all stood by their lockers like men and took accountability for their part in the loss. Soriano can’t say the same.

Jo-no-show-Mo?

Indians 3, Red Sox 1: But hey, for as bad as it is in New York, at least they’ve won a couple of games so far. Boston — anointed by everyone as the 2011 World Series Champions — is now 0-4 after being stymied by Josh Tomlin on a cold night in a near-empty Progressive Field. Tomlin gave up one run on three hits in seven innings. Terry Francona after the game: “It’s not a lot of fun, but I don’t think anyone is going to feel sorry for us.”  That’s for damn sure. Indeed, I think we’re one more loss before the Soxenfreude reaches maximum levels.

Mets 7, Phillies 1: Cole Hamels didn’t last long, allowing six runs on seven hits in two and two-thirds, including two hits to Mets pitcher Chris Young in a single inning. He then left the game to a chorus of boos from baseball’s allegedly most loyal fans. Which I’m sure will be explained away by my Phillies commenters as “passion” or some such. Which it may be, but it seems that the “loyal” and the “passionate” titles are often at odds.

Brewers 1, Braves 0: Yovani Gallardo was rough stuff, allowing only two hits — one in the first inning, one in the eighth — while shutting out the Braves on a mere 111 pitches. The Braves were less overpowered than completely and utterly flummoxed, seemingly unable to get anything approaching good wood on Gallardo’s stuff. Derek Lowe was nearly as good for the Braves, but with the way Gallardo was going, he could have shut ’em out for another two or three innings if he had to.

Rangers 3, Mariners 2: Alexi Ogando didn’t figure he’d be starting this year, but he took the ball in this one and pitched six scoreless innings while allowing only two hits. For Seattle, Michael Pineada acquitted himself well enough in his first major league start. I mean, he at least kept the Rangers from hitting any homers and that’s better than Boston could do.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 0: Jhoulys Chacin was sharp, shutting out the Dodgers on five hits over seven innings before turning it over to the bullpen. Troy Tulowitzki and Chris Ianetta homers did most of the damage for Colorado, who accomplished no mean feat in beting Clayton Kershaw.

Cardinals 3, Pirates 2: A couple of RBI for the Cardinals as they beat the Pirates. As usual, it was Regis’ fault.

Padres 3, Giants 1: The champs are reeling like Rocky Balboa in the first Clubber Lang fight. Aaron Harang did exactly what he hoped he’d do upon coming to Petco Park: pitching confidently in a pitcher-friendly environment, knowing that all of the fly balls he’s prone to allowing won’t fly over the fence like they did in Cincinnati. He allowed only one run on six hits, struck out six and walked two.

Angels 5, Rays 3: Tampa Bay is keeping Boston company at the bottom of the AL East, remaining winless after Jered Weaver gave them nothing through six and two-thirds. For the Angels, Jordan Walden’s debut as closer was exactly what Mike Scioscia wanted: he set the Rays down in order for the save. Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez are now a combined 2 for 27 on the young season.

Blue Jays 7, Athletics 6: Yunel Escobar provided the heroics with a two-run homer in the tenth, but the Athletics’ porous defense continued to be a problem for the men in green, as they blew an early 5-0 lead. Oakland has nine errors in its first four games, and this was a team that was supposed to have a pretty decent defense. Well, Kevin Kouzmanoff is a weak link and his miscues were central to the Jays’ four-run sixth inning, so let’s just forget I said anything.

Royals 7, White Sox 6: As usual, Melky Cabrera was the offensive hero. He was 3 for 6 with 3 RBI, including the game-winner in the bottom of the 12th. But screw Melky, the real heroics came from the Royals’ bullpen once again: six innings of shutout ball.

Marlins 3, Nationals 2: The Feesh win it with a Donnie Murphy bases-loaded single in the 10th. The runner who scored — All-Star Omar Infante — reached base when Jayson Werth dropped a pop fly in right.  The Marlins had a bunch of chances to put it away before then, but until Murphy’s hit they were 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position. So, no, it wasn’t an altogether pretty night of baseball in Miami.

Reds 8, Astros 2: The Reds keep rolling, extending their record to 4-0, which is their best start since the wire-to-wire Reds of 1990 began the year winning their first eight. This one was just about over as soon as it began, when J.A. Happ walked the ballpark. His actual quote after the game: “They definitely took some quality pitches.” Yeah, well, that’s just your opinion, man.

Cubs 6, Diamondbacks 5: There are still dead-enders who think pitcher wins matter. They never explain how games like this fit into the calculus. Cubs reliever James Russell came into a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. He struck out Russell Branyan and then gave up a two-run single to Willie Bloomquist of all people, blowing the Cubs’ lead. Chicago took the lead back in the bottom of the inning, however, and Mike Quade sent Russell out for the eighth allowing him to vulture the win. James Russell just knows how to win, baby!

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.