Brooks Conrad

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

32 Comments

Braves 4, Pirates 2: All Brooks Conrad does is hit pinch-hit game-winning homers. Well, that and play soul-killing defense and occupy a roster spot that gives his team minimal flexibility despite having a number of injuries which scream out for a super utility player who can handle both outfield and the infield corners. But hey, I’ll accept that latter stuff if it means a couple of pinch-hit game-winning homers every year!

Phillies 5, Reds 4:  So wild, crazy and long that a little blurb doesn’t do it justice, so check out our longer writeup here.  At this point, the biggest takeaway from all of this is “Hey! Someone finally found a use for Wilson Valdez!” Dude just knows how to win (1-0, 0.00 ERA).  And the best part: after a six-hour game that ended at 1:19 AM, these two teams get together today at 1:05!  Cliff Lee and Homer Bailey: be prepared to go long today.

Marlins 7, Giants 6: The loss of the game is bad but it pales compared to the loss of Buster Posey to a leg injury in the 12th inning. The play looked clean as far as those sorts of plays go, but it was awful all the same. Posey being gone for an extended period is absolutely the last thing the Giants need.

Red Sox 14, Indians 2: No team that has eveh started 2-10 has evah won teh Wurld Seriez!!!11one11!  Know why? Because most teams that start off poorly are actually bad teams. The Red Sox are a good team that just so happened to start poorly, and now they’re not playing poorly anymore.  The past, it seems, does not control the future. There is something besides destiny determining how events unfold. How liberating.

Padres 3, Cardinals 1: Mat Latos, who looked deader than vaudeville earlier this spring, turns in his best start of the year thus far, giving up one run on six hits over eight innings while striking out seven. This one just screamed getaway day: it lasted two hours and four minutes, with both Cardinals and Padres pitchers throwing a total of 105 pitches.

Brewers 6, Nationals 4: I hit this one up yesterday afternoon. Short version: Zack Greinke hit this one up yesterday afternoon.

Astros 2, Dodgers 1: J.R. Towles wins it with an RBI single in the ninth. The back of that Dodgers bullpen? Needs more Rubby.

Rangers 2, White Sox 1: C.J. Wilson was effective and Neftali Feliz bent but did not break in the ninth, giving the Rangers their third win in four games. There were no evacuations.

Mariners 3, Twins 0: And with that, the Twins’ offense becomes more firmly entrenched as the worst in the American League. They still need to be wary of a challenge from Oakland and even these Mariners, but seeing them step up strong like this yesterday gives me full confidence in their ability to be the worst. But just so we’re clear: Thome: that “reaching base twice in four plate appearances” stuff is you not being a team player, get me?

Yankees 7, Blue Jays 3: Two homers for Andruw Jones in Yankee Stadium. John Smoltz gets the win. Greg McMichael, Denny Neagle, Terrell Wade and Brad Clontz combine to close it out. Tomorrow: Greg Maddux vs. Jimmy Key.

Orioles 9, Royals 2: One gets the sense that the wheels have done come off the Kansas City bandwagon. That’s nine of the last 11 in the loss column thanks to this fourth inning implosion in which Luke Hochevar gave up eight runs yet still survived it to pitch on because, you know, you go with what you know and who else is more used to giving up eight runs than Luke Hochevar?  Adam Jones had two hits and two RBI that inning.

Mets 7, Cubs 4: The Cubs had a 4-1 lead in the second when things started skidding sideways. RBI from Josh Thole and Carlos Beltran tied it up against Casey Coleman, so Mike Quade went to Jason Berg, who threw twelve consecutive balls, walking in two runs.  New York tacked on one more with a sac fly in the fifth before the rains came — well, got worse — and they called this one early. Which Mike Quade wasn’t happy about, but hey, the game was official and no one had to refund anyone any money so whose to complain? I mean, other than Quade, the Cubs players and everyone else. Dreadful weather, though.

Diamondbacks 2, Rockies 1: Ian Kennedy was once again strong, allowing one run on seven hits over eight innings. I saw some people tweeting last night about how the Dbacks stole four bases, but none of those steals led to runs so who cares?

Angels 4, Athletics 1: Torii Hunter and Alberto Callaspo hit back-to-back homers in the fourth, and that’s about all the offense you need against this A’s team right now.

Rays vs. Tigers: POSTPONED:  It was a dark and stormy night. Oh, wait. That was daytime. Wow. Scary. I can see why they decided to scuttle this one.

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)
Getty Images
3 Comments

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)
Elsa/Getty Images
10 Comments

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
2 Comments

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)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
12 Comments

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.