Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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Still lots of random shifting around given that the first batch of rankings were based on early season weirdness. I figure that from here on out we’ll see things start to stabilize a bit more. Well, except for maybe the Royals/Indians thing, because that can’t hold. Um, can it?  As usual, last week’s rankings in parenthesis.

1. Rockies (3): It’s not just the Tulo-Gonzalez show. The Rockies are getting contributions from lots of dudes.

2. Phillies (2): The four aces have them winning. They also have them winning quickly. In fact, Philly hasn’t played a three-hour game yet.

3. Rangers (1): The bats cooled down a bit last week, but I suppose they’d have to given how hot they started out.

4. Indians (6)-Royals (11):  A tie for the teams who are playing the biggest series in baseball in the early part of the week. How about them apples?

6. Yankees (8): The rotation may be a source of stress, but it’s nice that no one in the East is en fuego while they struggle through it.

7. Reds (5): It was a loss, but Jay Bruce had a big game yesterday following a dreadful start. If he gets hot, the Reds may be damn nigh unstoppable on offense. The rotation, however, is a cause for concern.

8. Angels (12): Hank Conger is getting more playing time and is tattooing the ball. And of course, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren continue to dominate. Not many people saw a hot start in Anaheim in the cards, but they’re lookin’ pretty good right now.

9. Marlins (17): The only team in the NL with a negative run differential but a winning record. Are they doing it with mirrors? Nah, a good bullpen, mostly, and some good luck in close games. For approximately the 12th time in their 18 years of existence, we find ourselves asking if the Marlins are the real deal.

10. Cardinals (25): A much better week from the offense has things looking up, but Ryan Franklin’s struggles present another nagging problem that Tony La Russa probably doesn’t want to talk about. Quick: someone ask him about it.

11. Giants (15): Barry Zito’s trip to the DL may not be a gigantic issue from a competitive standpoint — he’s Barry Zito after all — but there is something sad about his 356-game consecutive start streak ending. He has never missed a start due to injury in his 11-year career, and that’s pretty impressive given how fragile pitchers can be.

12. Brewers (14): Shifty bunch, these Brewers.

13. Blue Jays (9): Bunch of thieves, these Blue Jays.

14. White Sox (4): Ugly series against the Halos. Ozzie Guillen probably would have preferred a few blown games by the bullpen rather than just have their clock cleaned like they did.

15. Athletics (16): There could be some serious issues for Dallas Braden’s shoulder.

16. Cubs: With the injuries to the starters, Mike Quade continues to have to make choices like whether he’d prefer to pitch  Jeff Samardzija or James Russell. Which is sort of like deciding between a root canal and a colonoscopy.

17. Braves (18): The sweep of the Saturday double header against the Mets was nice, but this is still a team that is seriously out of synch.

18. Rays (30): A couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins against the Twins breathed some life into them.

19. Tigers (26): Two out of three from Texas and a split from Oakland isn’t anything to sneeze at, but the offense is MIA.

20. Orioles (7): I actually figured that the O’s would be the last of the three early-season surprises to come back to Earth, but they ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland.

21. Nationals (23): I’m still kind of reeling from seeing Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez nail down both ends of the doubleheader yesterday.

22. Pirates (21): Four teams in the NL Central have eight losses, including the Pirates.

23. Padres (19): Orlando Hudson has reached base in all 15 Padres games this year.

24. Dodgers (10): Attendance has been terrible compared to what they’re used to. Is this Bryan Stow-related? Bad baseball? McCourt fatigue?

25. Diamondbacks (20): Kelly Johnson, who was so good last year, is .158/.238/.263 to start the season.

26. Astros (28): Apropos of nothing, but in both the spring and in the early going, I don’t think there is a bad team who has had more chatter about it as if it weren’t a bad team than the Astros. Which leads to stuff like this in which people come to grips with the bad team being bad, even though it seemed fairly obvious that they’d be bad.

27. Mets (24): I think the Mets will be a lot better off if they could avoid any doubleheaders this week.

28. Twins (27): They traded a prospect catcher to bolster their bullpen and now their catcher is hurt and their bullpen sucks. It’s like “The Gift of the Magi.” But different.

29. Red Sox (13): Two wins in a row? Eh. After a second straight bad week, they’ve reached the point where they need to be ranked where their record has them. If they’re as good as we all think they are, they can win their way out of the bottom of the Power Rankings.

30. Mariners (29): I don’t care if they won every game they played this past week. They played a game the other night in which Adam Kennedy was the DH and batted cleanup. That deserves the 30-slot regardless of whatever else transpired.

Eyebrows raised as ESPN cuts Schilling’s segment from a 2004 Red Sox documentary

Curt Schilling
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Several years ago ESPN produced a documentary about the 2004 Boston Red Sox’ amazing comeback in the ALCS called “Four Days in October.” They’ve re-run it a lot. Yesterday, in the run up to last night’s Yankees-Red Sox game, they ran it again, on ESPN2. Only it was a bit shorter than usual. Why? Because it omitted the part about Curt Schilling and his bloody sock in Game 6.

Which, um, that’s one of the signature moments of that series, right? It’s one of the signature moments of the entire modern era of the franchise. Why edit that out? Many Red Sox fans — who also didn’t much care for ESPN’s handling of the DeflateGate story — believe that it was a vindictive act. A figurative airbrushing out of Schilling and his moment given his recent termination by the World Wide Leader. Even Schilling himself snarked about it:

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For its part, ESPN had a simple explanation: the softball game which led in to the documentary ran long and they needed to cut someplace. Which makes some sense. It’s probably also worth noting that decisions about programming on their secondary network on a sleepy Sunday afternoon are not likely made in a board room by mustache-twirling villains. If ESPN really has it in for Schilling at this point, that’s a rather random and passive aggressive way to show it. My gut instinct is that this is just a coincidence.

But when it’s ESPN and Schilling it’s understandable when people assume there’s something more to it than coincidence. Both sides have, in the past, behaved in curious enough ways with respect to innocuous things that the benefit of the doubt is not something which is likely to be given automatically by some. Especially in Boston.

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws to the plate during the second inning of a baseball game against the San Diego Padres, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Associated Press
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WE’RE GOING STREAKING!

Well, we’re talking  a lot about streaks or the end thereof. The end of a lot of losing streaks. The end of some winning streaks. Getaway day games can be momentum disruptors. Anyway, here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Dodgers 1, Padres 0: Clayton freakin’ Kershaw, man. A three-hit complete game shutout with fourteen strikeouts AND he drove in the only run of the game with an RBI single. That’s some one man gang action there, buddy. Still, I wonder if it’s yet safe for me to note, again, that the Padres are terrible. Phillies fans got mad when I said that after Vince Velasquez dominated them. Maybe Dodgers fans won’t get mad if I note it again given that, you know, a pitcher being great and a team sucking aren’t mutually exclusive things.

Nationals 6, Cardinals 1: When people ask me why baseball can’t market its young players like the NBA does, I point to games like this one in which the biggest star in the game, Bryce Harper, goes 0-for-4 with 4Ks and the Nats still cruise to victory. If you tease a big Cards-Nats matchup with “Watch Bryce Harper take on the Cardinals!” he might go 0-for-4 and strike out four times and the Nats could still win easily. Or, he might have a big game and the Nats may still lose. Thing is, in lots of games what a big star does doesn’t matter a lick to the outcome. If someone neutralizes Steph Curry like that, the Warriors probably aren’t winning. There are so many moving parts in baseball, however, that no one game is ever likely to live up to NBA-style hype, especially with respect to one big star. Anyway, Max Scherzer is a star too and he pitched seven shutout innings and struck out nine. That helped. That’s a three-game sweep of the Cardinals for Washington. The Redbirds have lost four in a row overall and now go to take on the [checks glasses] dangerous Philadelphia Phillies.

Phillies 2, Indians 1: Six straight wins for a team most thought would be garbage. They’re 15-10 now. They may wilt, but once you bank wins no one takes them away from you. Vince Velasquez pitched six shutout innings and struck out six.

Astros 2, Athletics 1: Houston only got two hits but one of them was a Jose Altuve homer. It was his seventh, by the way. That’s a 40+ homer pace for the diminutive second baseman. Doug Fister allowed one run in six and two-thirds. He needed that one. He’s been pitching like a dog this year.

Giants 6, Mets 1: The Mets had won eight in a row before this one and lost due to a dominant performance from one of the best pitchers in the game in Madison Bumgarner, so no reason to feel ashamed. Bumgarner has shut the Mets out for the last 18 innings in which he has faced them. Hunter Pence homered and drove in three.

Blue Jays 5, Rays 1: It was Marcus Stroman‘s birthday yesterday. He partied too, allowing one run in eight innings on only three hits and struck out nine. Still, when he left the game he had every reason to think he’d get a no decision, as it was tied 1-1 through eight. The Jays rallied for four while he was still pitcher of record, however, capped off by a Troy Tulowitzki three-run homer.

White Sox 7, Orioles 1: Chris Sale‘s amazing start continues, as he allowed only one run, five hits over five and a third. Walked four too, as he wasn’t particularly sharp, but he’s now 6-0 on the year in six starts.

Reds 6, Pirates 5: The Reds end their six game losing streak. The Pirates’ six game winning streak is snapped. This is very satisfying for those of us who seek out the symmetrical in life. Scott Schebler hit a go-ahead double in the ninth inning for Cincy, they blew that lead, so then he hit another RBI double in the 11th. “I can do this all day,” he would’ve said evenly, if this was some kind of movie and he was a badass. Instead I assume he said something bland about finding his pitch to hit and then credited his teammates more than himself. That’s another reason baseball can’t market young stars, by the way. Most of them don’t act like the sorts of stars who are easy to market. And when they do, they’re criticized for being all me-first. Why this occurred to me in response to a guy like Scott Schebler I have no idea, but the point stands.

Brewers 14, Marlins 5: Lots of streak-ending yesterday. Here the Marlins’ seven-game winning streak ended. Chris Carter went 3-for-5 with two homers as the Brewers got 18 hits in all. After the game Carter, who had been struggling, said “You can’t let the past get to you. You’ve just got to focus on looking forward.” “Can’t repeat the past?” Gatsby cried incredulously in response. “Why, of course you can!”

Tigers 6, Twins 5: The Tigers’ bats have warmed up and, less than a week after Victor Martinez complained about their “horses**t” offense, they’ve won five games in a row. Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled home the go-ahead run in the eighth inning and Nick Castellanos hit a three-run homer

Braves 4, Cubs 3: Julio Teheran pitched seven scoreless innings striking out nine, but the Braves’ bullpen blew it. Nothing we’ve seen from this team suggested that they wouldn’t just wilt after that, but they showed a bit of fight for once when Daniel Castro singled and scored on Nick Markakis‘ sacrifice fly in the 10th inning and they held on. It wasn’t all glory, however, as the Braves were playing with only 24 men because the front office messed up a transaction yesterday morning. I’ll post on it later. Let me enjoy a win for a few minutes.

Angels 9, Rangers 6: L.A. stops the Rangers four-game winning streak. Starter Garrett Richards was pulled after four innings because of dehydration, but the pen responded with four shutout innings before running into some trouble in the ninth. Kole Calhoun got three hits and drove in two.

Royals 4, Mariners 1: The Royals’ five-game losing streak ends. The last two of those losses were shutouts to the M’s so the fact that Eric Hosmer homered, Lorenzo Cain had an RBI single and Alex Escobar had three hits would’ve been welcome even if they lost again.

Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 3: Nolan Arenado had two hits and three RBI. One of those hits was his major league-leading 11th. I have no idea if the Dbacks will turn their season around and challenge in the NL West like many thought they would, but if they do and fall short, they’ll recall that they dropped five of their first six against the Rockies this year and that’s not the sort of thing a would-be contender does.

Red Sox 8, Yankees 7Christian Vazquez hit a two-run homer to break a tie in the seventh. Dustin Pedroia and Xander Bogaerts each had three hits and Travis Shaw homered. The Sox have won seven of eight and are in first place in the AL East. The Yankees have lost five in a row and six of seven. You’re gonna see some “if the Boss was still alive!” action in the coming days. Count on it.

Tim Lincecum to hold long-awaited showcase on Friday

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 16:  Tim Lincecum #55 of the San Francisco Giants pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the game at AT&T Park on Tuesday, June 16, 2015 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
Brad Mangin/MLB Photos via Getty Images
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At long last, the Tim Lincecum showcase has an official date: this Friday, May 6 in Scottsdale, according to CSN Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic (citing a report from MLB Network’s Jon Heyman). Lincecum, still a free agent, has been allowed to throw at the Giants’ facility in Arizona.

Lincecum, 31, has reportedly still drawn the interest in at least half the league. San Francisco remains Lincecum’s preferred landing spot, however, per Pavlovic.

The right-hander showed better results in 15 starts last season after three consecutive tough campaigns. He finished the 2015 season with a 4.13 ERA and a 60/38 K/BB ratio in 76 1/3 innings. Given how starting pitching is always in demand, Lincecum should walk away with a handful of offers.

Video: J.J. Hardy collects carom off Manny Machado’s glove, converts the out

A ball hit by Chicago White Sox' Todd Frazier gets by Baltimore Orioles third baseman Manny Machado during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Sunday, May 1, 2016, in Baltimore. Baltimore Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, not seen, was able to get the ball and throw it to first to get out Frazier on the play. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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Some great defensive plays leave you saying, “Wow!” This one will leave you saying that, and, “How the heck did that happen?”

In the top of the fourth inning at Camden Yards, White Sox slugger Todd Frazier lined a Ubaldo Jimenez offering right at third baseman Manny Machado. The ball skipped and caromed off of Machado’s glove, creating what seemed to be an easy single for Frazier. Shortstop J.J. Hardy, however, was ranging to his right and used his cat-like reflexes to snag the redirected ball. He planted and threw a one-hopper to Chris Davis at first base to convert the out.

The replay at about 21 seconds really does the play justice. Outstanding stuff by Hardy. The Orioles, however, wound up losing 7-1 to the White Sox.