Kansas City Royals v Baltimore Orioles

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Orioles 2, Mariners 1: I, for one, welcome our new Adam Jones overlords. Jones was the hero of the day, hitting what proved to be the game-winning home run and making an absolutely sick, sick catch.

Royals 2, Angels 0: No one did bupkis until the bottom of the ninth when Jeff Francoeur reached on a single and then Billy Butler won it with the walkoff jack off Scott Downs. Adam Jones is still our new overlord, but Butler can be his adjutant general.

Nationals 2, Phillies 1: John Lannan beats the Phillies for the first time in 14 starts as the Nats take two of three. And while I gave props to Adam Jones’ catch as one of the best I’ve seen all year, Laynce Nix’s lay-out-and-slide catch in this one was pretty spectacular too. He assists Butler with light typing and other clerical tasks in the New Adam Jones World Order.

Yankees 4, Athletics 2: The Yankees have beat the A’s ten times in a row. They saw the A’s at the paddock before the second race, outside the men’s room when they placed their bet. They saw the A’s before they even got up this morning.

White Sox 7, Red Sox 4: Boston loses their fourth straight. Paul Konerko hit the go ahead single in the seventh and hit a two-run homer in the ninth that disabused the Red Sox of any notion that they were coming back. It’s not Yankees-A’s level pwnage, but Chicago owns the Red Sox lately. They’re getting so comfortable that they’re thinking about renting some of the Red Sox out to tenants. You know, making the most of their investment.

Pirates 9, Mets 3: The meek shall inherit this game. Jason Bay puts a major charge into a ball but it’s swallowed up by a (a) a giant ballpark; and (b) an outrageous display of range and leather by Andrew McCutchen. Meanwhile, the Pirates score five runs in the top of the seventh inning with five infield hits. Oh, and Kevin Corriea leads baseball in wins with eight. Yes, you heard me: a Pittsburgh Pirate leads Major League Baseball in wins.

Tigers 4, Twins 2: Miguel Cabrera drove one over the left field wall with two on to put the Tigers out of the Twins’ reach. Wait — just got served with a motion by Cabrea’s lawyers. They say that there’s no proof that Cabrera drove it and that at no time did Cabrera admit to anyone in any position of authority that he did, in fact, drive it. Well, crap.

Braves 4, Padres 3: Tommy Hanson wasn’t as sharp as he can be, but he was good enough on a steamy night (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER). The usual bullpen trio of O’Flaherty, Venters and Kimbrel close it out. Which is awesome now but will be less awesome come September when they’re all making like Mike Marshall and pitching their 100th game. But as Twitter follower @Bengoodfella told me last night: “I try to be positive about it. In two years, the Braves will have three relievers with totally new elbow ligaments.”

Indians 13, Blue Jays 9: Despite so many runs being scored, there was no standout RBI whore in this one for the Indians. Asdrubal Cabrera, Grady Sizemore and Matt LaPorta each had three, which I guess makes this more of an RBI menage a trois situation. Rajai Davis had four for Toronto, so I guess that’s a little whorish. And what’s simply crazy: the Jays had back-to-back-to-back triples in the fifth inning. It’s not often that you even see two in a row, let alone three. Cool.

Reds 4, Brewers 3: There has been a bit of a lifeless feel in the Reds games I’ve watched lately. That wasn’t the case here as Joey Votto and Jay Bruce hit two-run homers as the Reds came back from a late 3-0 deficit. The best 1-2 punch in the game? Name me a better one then.  Francisco Cordero got his 300th career save.

Rangers 3, Rays 0: Colby Lewis had eight innings of shutout ball. Nelson Cruz was 3 for 4 with an RBI and Elvis Andrus drove in two. Tampa Bay has lost eight of 12 and now have to head west on a long road trip. If that trip goes sideways it could be tough for them to hang in the East.

Astros 3, Cubs 1: Houston sweeps the Cubbies. They’re only two behind Chicago in the Central now, too.

Diamondbacks 6, Marlins 5: Justin Upton will get the ups for the walkoff single, but give some credit to Willie Bloomquist. He was on first base and then, with Ryan Roberts up, Bloomquist took third from first base on a hit and run that ended up as an infield chop to third.  Nice heads up play by Bloomquist, making it much easier for Upton to drive him in.

Giants 7, Cardinals 5: It wasn’t Tim Lincecum’s best day (6.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER), but Nate Schierholtz came up big in the ninth to tie things up and then drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th. And this one had a light delay. No, not a slight delay, a light delay.

Rockies 3, Dodgers 0: Ubaldo Jimenez with the four hit shutout. He averaged between 93-94 m.p.h. with his fastball last night, which is supposedly a problem for him. Guess it wasn’t a problem against L.A.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
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Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]