Marlins' Johnson delivers a pitch against the Phillies in the first inning during their MLB National League baseball game in Miami

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Marlins 2, Phillies 1: The pitcher’s duel was as good as advertised, as neither offense broke out against Roy Halladay or Josh Johnson, each of whom pitched well enough to win even though neither did. This one was decided on the basis of mistakes. One of them was Halladay’s, as he inexplicably walked Johnson in the third inning — the first time he had ever walked a pitcher — and watched as he came around to score on a sac fly.  In the eighth the mistake was by Jimmy Rollins whose error allowed Omar Infante to reach and then Halladay, as his wild pitch let Infante get to second before scoring on a Chris Coghlan single.

Giants 1, Diamondbacks 0: Like Halladay and Johnson, I suppose Tim Lincecum (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 9K) and Ian Kennedy (8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 8K) simply don’t know how to win.  The game’s only run scores on a Cody Ross single in the bottom of the ninth.

Mets 4, Rockies 3: Mike Pelfrey allowed three hits in six innings and drove in two with an RBI double. But as the box score establishes, he knows how to win. And because he won, he was clearly better than Halladay, Johnson, Lincecum and Kennedy last night. See how this works?

Rangers 7, Athletics 2: The Rangers scored their first run of the game on a bases-loaded walk. Lawyer ball, man.

Indians 5, Rays 4: Tampa Bay battled back after being down two in the seventh, but then Joel Peralta lost the thread  in the bottom of the ninth with a walk, a single, and then an intentional walk to load the bases with no one out.  He made way for Kyle Farnsworth who, despite having a nice year so far could not have been expected to put that fire out. He induced one out on a grounder, but the subsequent bases-loaded walk to Michael Brantley to end the game was rather Farnsworthy.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 4: No runs batted in, but a 4 for 5 night for Albert Pujols is encouraging. Unless you’re into silly speculation anyway. Daniel Descalso was the hero, driving in two on a single off Kerry Wood in the eighth to break the 4-4 tie.

Nationals 7, Braves 6: We all laughed at Chip Caray’s “Line drive! Base hit! Caught out there!” call from the playoffs a couple of years ago, but he really does have a hard time picking up the trajectory of the ball off the bat. In the ninth inning of this one Brooks Conrad hit a fly ball that, had it gone out, would have tied the game. Caray’s call made it sound like the Giants just won the 1951 pennant … before it was caught by Roger Bernadina.  Just annoying.  Although not as annoying as Tim Hudson not having his best stuff and the Braves being unable to do anything against Jason Marquis until the eighth inning.  The comeback was nice, but too little, too late.

Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 6: Jon Lester didn’t have it, giving up five runs on seven hits and walking five more. I didn’t watch any of it, but the box score makes it look like an ugly one. Jose Iglesias’ first official major league at bat resulted in a strikeout on which he reached first base due to the catcher muffing it. So that’s fun.

Yankees 3, Royals 1: Derek Jeter was 2 for 4 and drove one in while A-Rod drove in two, so that should hold off the “Oh noes! A-Rod and Jeter!” articles for a couple of days. Indeed, Jeter has a seven game hitting streak in which he’s 13 for 32 (.406).  Freddy Garcia allowed one run in six innings. I watched a couple of innings of this one here and there while the Phillies game was in a commercial and I remain just as surprised today as I did ten years ago that a guy like Garcia, who looks like he exerts as little effort as he does out there, still manages to get guys out. There’s probably some sort of lesson in that somewhere.

Dodgers 10, Pirates 3: After a prolonged offensive slump the Dodgers pounced on the Buccos for ten runs on fifteen hits, including a three-run jack for Matt Kemp. Indeed, the Dodgers’ 1-4 hitters were a combined 10 for 18 with six RBI. Andrew McCutchen hit two home runs in a losing cause. Unless he has his own agenda, of course, in which case his motives are inscrutable at best. No man knows what another thinks. Not really.

Reds 7, Astros 3: Homer Bailey turns in his second straight solid outing. More than solid, really, pretty damn fantastic: seven shutout innings on five hits with 5Ks and no walks. And Joey Votto did Joey Votto things like smack multiple extra base hits and drive in runs. Aroldis Chapman was terrible, though, walking four guys and hitting another while retiring no one to start off the eighth inning. And it wasn’t the first time he has struggled this year. Indeed, he has been unable to locate the strike zone for three straight outings. Something to keep your eye on.

Brewers 8, Padres 6: San Diego spotted Milwaukee an eight run lead and, despite the comeback, that was just too much to overcome. Jonathan Lucroy was 3 for 4 with three RBI. A strong outing from Shaun Marcum last night. A strong one from Zack Greinke on Monday. It’s almost the way they drew it up over the winter.

Orioles 7, Mariners 6:  Seattle took the lead in the 13th inning but Baltimore scored two on Felix Pie and Matt Weiters singles in the bottom of the inning to give the O’s the game.

Angels 6, White Sox 2: Alberto Callaspo drove in three runs. Howie Kendrick started in left field for the first time ever and didn’t get a ball hit to him.

Tigers 10, Twins 2: Someone asked me last week what I thought the chances were of Francisco Liriano having a strong outing in the wake of his no hitter. You can choose to believe me or not, but I swear that my answer was “slim and none.”  His no hitter wasn’t the result of some mechanical breakthrough or a step forward in the quality of his stuff. It just happened by good fortune and some poor offense by the White Sox. Last night he had the usual stuff working but less fortune and, despite the extra rest, he was coming off his longest ever start. Ergo: 3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB. If the hail doesn’t come to chase him random illness doesn’t get to him, he still loses this game. Victor Martinez was 3 for 4 with a couple of doubles and 4 RBI.

Collins worried David Wright might go on disabled list

Washington Nationals v New York Mets
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NEW YORK (AP) Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York’s captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

“With the condition he’s been playing in and the condition he’s in right now, yeah, I’m concerned about it,” Collins said Monday. “Is it going to happen? I can’t tell you. I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. I know this guy plays with a lot of discomfort. He always has. And when he can’t play, he’s hurt.”

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

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)
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: