And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Nationals 5, Marlins 3: So I decided I needed to get my life in order a couple of weeks ago. I sit in front of a computer all day and, due to the strange circumstance of having a job I actually love, all of the “free time” I thought I’d have to exercise and stuff when I started working at home has just sort of disappeared. I haven’t gained any weight since I started this gig — I’ve actually lost about five pounds because I’m not eating office donuts and restaurant lunches —  but I feel even unhealthier than I did before due to the sloth. I mean, at least at the law firm I used to have to walk a block or three for some reason a couple times a day. Here? Nothing.

So I bought I treadmill. And I figured that I’d do it up right and proper, so I got a TV and a Roku player to sit in front of the thing so I can watch MLB.tv. So far: it’s awesome. I use the treadmill every day and aside from some extra creak in my knees I feel fabulous. And watching baseball has never been better. Last year it was a pain to switch back and forth between the game and what I was doing (i.e. typing up these recaps), but now I pay way more attention to the games. I added a second TV and Roku next to the computer here so I can continue watching whatever game I get into once the jogging is over.

But there are some parts of my dysfunctional self-maintenance that I can’t shake. Like, given a choice of games, I always pick crappy ones, no matter what I do. Last night is a great example. Only two games were going on: the  Tigers vs. the Orioles and the Nats vs. the Marlins. Easy choice, right? Wrong! Something in my addled skull compelled me to watch the Nats-Marlins game.  A National League affinity? Maybe. A dirty, secret love of ugly baseball in front of small crowds, drilled into my psyche by watching, like, 700 horrifyingly bad Braves games between 1985 and 1990? That might be it actually. So I watched several innings of this thing as I, appropriately enough, got nowhere fast on my new treadmill.

And it was kind of ugly. Josh Johnson’s defense betrayed him. He gave up the homer to Werth, but the other two runs that scored on his watch were thanks to Hanley Ramirez and John Buck screwing up. With good defense Johnson and the Fish get the win. Of course, Nats’ pitchers had bad luck too, as the run that tied things up in the bottom of the sixth was helped along by Rick Ankiel muffing one in center, even though it was ruled a double. Eventually this one went extra innings with Adam LaRoche winning it on a two-run jack in the 11th.

Bad D. Low energy. Four miles on the treadmill. My kind of game! It’s gonna be a great season.

Indians 1, Red Sox 0:  I wrote this one up yesterday, and I still maintain that the Sox will be competitive in the AL East sooner rather than later. But let us at least acknowledge that there will come a point — and it could come by Sunday evening if this weekend series against the Yankees is disastrous — where it will not be panicky to write off the Red Sox.  Because yes, “losses at the beginning of the year” is something of an artificial construct. But if the losing streak gets much worse it will become the kind of streak that can kill a season no matter when it happens.

Yankees 4, Twins 3: Chamberlain in the seventh, Soriano in the eighth, Rivera in the ninth and everyone giving postgame quotes afterward. Just like nothin’ ever happened! For Minnesota things were terrible. Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s broken leg is not only bad for his health and playing time, but it likely bummed out his parents, who were flying in from Japan to see his home debut this weekend. Now what? “Look mom, it’s Minnehaha Park! The American Swedish Musuem! Mom! Wait! Don’t go!”

Phillies 11, Mets 0:  The Mets were shut down on offense and beat up on D. The only downside I see in this game for Phillies fans (or Roy Halladay fans, which I am) is if the Cy Young race is close in the fall and someone says “well, Halladay got X runs support a game!” in an effort to discredit his case. Of course, if he keeps shutting people out, I suppose that’s not going to really be a problem.

Rockies 7, Pirates 1: Troy Tulowitzki goes yard again, his third on the season. Not bad considering he only has five hits in all. Esmil Rogers was fantastic on the mound. Putatively a number five starter, he had ace stuff yesterday, allowing hits to the first two batters and retiring 22 of the last 23 he faced while striking out seven.

Brewers 4, Braves 2: Tommy Hanson’s velocity is down in his first couple of starts, so that’s scary. Even more scary is the fact that the Braves can’t score any runs right now and they get to face Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels in the next three games.  This trendy pick in the NL East is not looking so trendy right now, is it?

Athletics 2, Blue Jays 1: Oakland salvages one behind a great game from Trevor Cahill. Efficient (105 pitches in eight innings) and effective (one run on three hits with no walks), Cahill talked after the game about how his curve ball — previously just a show-me pitch for him — was key. In his first start he struck out eight guys in four and two-thirds. In this one he struck out seven guys in eight innings. For a guy whose K-rates haven’t been fabulous, this could be a major, major step forward for him.

White Sox 5, Rays 1I hit this one up yesterday too. The Rays have not held a lead all year. They’ve scored 1 run in five of their six games.  Given the decade of futility they endured after the launch of the franchise, it’s amazing that this is their worst start in team history, but yep, it is.

Astros 3, Reds 2: Houston gets its first win — they have more than Boston and Tampa Bay combined! Oh noes! — and Cincinnati gets its first loss. The Astros got the winning run on a Matt Downs double off Nick Masset in the top of the ninth.

Orioles 9, Tigers 5: Just like there must come a time when we consider the Red Sox to be in serious trouble, there must come a time when we acknowledge that maybe — just possibly — the Orioles are for real. Not saying they’re fabulous, but they’re legit. They’ve shown that their young pitchers are capable of good things. In this one they showed that they can bash the ball around a bit.  I sense a very frisky team that, even if it won’t be in it at the end, is going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for a lot of people this year.

Miguel Montero throws Jake Arrieta under the bus after the Nats steal seven bases

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It takes a lot of things to happen for a runner to steal a base. He has to be fast. He has to get a good jump on the pitcher. He has to beat the catcher’s throw down to second and he has to avoid a tag if it’s close.

In light of that, any number of people can, theoretically anyway, be responsible for an opposing base runner stealing a base. The pitcher can be responsible for not holding the runner or for being slow in his delivery to the plate. The catcher can be responsible for getting off bad throws to second. The middle infielder can handle the throw poorly or apply the tag poorly. Or, in some cases, the defense may do everything right and still not nab that runner because he was just too dang fast.

Last night the Washington Nationals stole seven bases off of the Chicago Cubs. Trea Turner, one of baseball’s fastest players and best base stealers, stole four of them. The pitcher on the mound for all seven of them was Jake Arrieta. The catcher behind the plate for all seven of them was Miguel Montero. The infielders for all seven of them were Tommy La Stella and Javier Baez. All of these men, Turner, and his teammates Anthony Rendon and Michael Taylor, who also stole bases, were the moving parts in play.

Who was to credit and who was to blame for all of those stolen bases? If you ask Miguel Montero, it was his pitcher, Arrieta:

 

If you can’t watch the video, here’s what he said:

“The reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate. It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time.”

You can watch all seven of the stolen bases here. Turner gets great jumps and that can partially be blamed on Arrieta. That’s especially true on a couple of steals that didn’t even draw a throw from Montero. But:

  • On one of them Montero bounced his throw;
  • On another it was a delayed steal that seemed to take Montero by surprise;
  • On a third the pitch was high and outside, making it hard for Montero to get rid of the ball quickly but not attributable to Arrieta being deliberate;
  • One came with a runner on third, which caused Montero to, wisely, hold on to the ball to prevent a run from scoring; and
  • On the last one Montero airmailed the throw.

Perhaps someone with a stopwatch on Arrieta could better proportion blame here, but by my estimation Arrieta was clearly to blame for two of them, Montero was more at fault on three of them and the other two were really no one’s fault but circumstance. And that’s without giving Turner, Rendon and Taylor credit, which is just dumb.

But sure, Miguel, go ahead and throw this all on your team’s ace. That’s a fantastic thing for a backup catcher to do. Leads to great job security.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Nationals 6, Cubs 1: Max Scherzer allowed one run over six innings, striking out six. Four of the Nats runs came via a couple of infield singles and a couple of Cubs throwing errors. The other two came via a Michael Taylor RBI double. The Nationals stole seven bases off of Miguel Montero and Jake Arrieta, four coming from Trea Turner. After the game, Montero wanted everyone to know that it wasn’t his fault, it was Arrieta’s:

“The reason why they were running left and right today because they know he was slow to the plate,” a visibly frustrated Montero said. “It really sucked because the stolen bases go to me, and when you really look at it, the pitcher doesn’t give me any time.”

Team. Player. Joe Maddon, any comment?

Rangers 2, Indians 1: Adrian Beltre hit his 450th homer. And he did it at a wonderful time: in the ninth inning of a tie game, giving his team the win. The homer was his 2,969th career hit. Which is nice.

Orioles 3, Blue Jays 1: Kevin Gausman and three relievers held the Jays to a lone run. Which, once you adjust for this being the Orioles, is the equivalent of any other team holding the opposition to, like, negative eight runs. Mark Trumbo doubled in two, Adam Jones singled in one. A ninth inning solo homer from Troy Tulowitzki was the only damage the Jays did all night.

Tigers 5, Royals 3: Miguel Cabrera and J.D. Martinez each homered, helping the Tigers overcome an early 3-0 deficit. Justin Verlander allowed three over seven and the bullpen tossed two shutout innings. Which, once you adjust for this being the Tigers, is the equivalent of any other team’s bullpen shutting out the opposition for, like, eleven innings.

Phillies 8, Mariners 2: Maikel Franco and Arron Altherr homered for the Phillies, who overcame a 2-0 deficit. Which, once you adjust for this being the Phillies, is the equivalent of any other team overcoming, like, a six-run deficit. Aaron Nola allowed two runs over seven and struck out nine.

Red Sox 9, Twins 2: Most pitchers will not come back after a rain delay of more than an hour or so. Here Drew Pomeranz waited out a 76-minute rain delay in the second inning and stayed in the game to deliver five solid innings, backed by homers from Christian Vázquez and Chris Young In his last seven starts, Pomeranz is 4-1 with a 2.70 ERA, 44 strikeouts and 9 walks in 40 innings. The Red Sox reclaime sole possession of first place in the AL East.

Rays 4, Pirates 2: avid Freese misplayed a groundball at third base in the top of the 10th inning, allowing Steven Souza to score and giving the Rays the win. An Adeiny Hechavarria sac fly added an insurance run. Hechavarria also singled in a run in the eighth. Not a bad first day on the job for the newest Ray.

Reds 8, Brewers 6: The Redlegs were homer happy with Joey Votto hitting a tiebreaking two-run homer in the fifth and Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall and Eugenio Suarez all going deep as well. Travis Shaw hit a three-run shot in a losing cause. The Brewers have lost three of four but continue to hold a one-game lead in the NL Central.

Marlins 6, Mets 3: Mets starter Robert Gsellman left the game after straining his hamstring while trying to beat out a grounder in the fourth inning and will now likely be the sixth Mets starter to hit the DL this year. DH uber alles. He also allowed three runs in three innings, but the Mets came back to tie it with a Travis d’Arnaud homer in the seventh. A pinch-hitting Ichiro singled in J.T. Realmuto in the bottom half of the seventh, however, and Christian Yelich singled in two more in later that inning to pad the Marlins’ lead.

White Sox 4, Yankees 3: The Yankees’ bullpen imploded once again. Leading 3-1 in the eighth, Domingo German and Tyler Clippard combined to issue four walks to allow the White Sox to get within one. In the ninth, Dellin Betances walked two guys and hit a batter before Jose Abreu smacked a walkoff single. Abreu also had an RBI double in the third. The White Sox snap a four-game losing streak.

Athletics 6, Astros 4: Ryon Healy hit a a grand slam in the sixth and Khris Davis scored one run and doubled in another. Sean Manaea was solid into the sixth, holding the mighty Astros lineup to one run. That grand slam gave the A’s needed room to absorb George Springer‘s ninth inning three-run shot.

Diamondbacks 6, Cardinals 5: The Cardinals bullpen blew this one. Leading 5-2 in the eighth, Trevor Rosenthal surrendered an RBI single to Daniel Descalso and a sac fly to Chris Herrmann to allow the Dbacks to get within one. In the ninth, Seung-Hwan Oh gave up a solo homer to David Peralta to force extras. Herrmann struck again in the tent, knocking in Reymond Fuentes with a game-ending RBI single off of Matt Bowman.

Dodgers 4, Angels 0: Kenta Maeda tossed seven shutout innings and the Dodgers scored all four of their runs in the six via a Cody Bellinger RBI single and a Joc Pederson three-run blast. This one was over in a crisp two-hours, thirty minutes. Some kook wrote a column the other day in the Wall Street Journal saying weeknight baseball games should be seven innings. If that was the case here fans could’ve kept their engines running while they watched the game and popped right back out.

Braves 3, Padres 0: Rookie Sean Newcomb shut out the Padres for six innings, striking out eight, to pick up his first career win. He’s only allowed four earned runs in 24.1 innings over four starts, so he probably deserves to have more than the one win. Padres manager Andy Green thinks Newcomb maybe didn’t deserve his eight strikeouts here:

“That was the largest strike zone I have seen against our guys behind home plate. Newcomb threw the ball very well. But Tyler Flowers is the player of the game in my mind. He is snatching balls above the zone, below the zone, and bringing them back in and getting a strike on all of them.”

Miguel Montero agrees, it was someone else’s fault. Atlanta has won eight of ten.

Giants 4, Rockies 3: This one went late but Denard Span finally sent everyone home with a walkoff RBI single in the bottom of the fourteenth inning to give the Giants the win. Kelby Tomlinson forced extras with an RBI single in the eighth inning. The Rockies are reeling, losers of seven straight. They were in first place entering play a week ago today. Now they’re in third, five and a half back of the Dodgers. So much for that early season feel good story.