And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

52 Comments

Sorry it’s coming a bit late this morning. Your author was under the weather last night and decided that rather than stay up watching baseball and reading box scores that an early bedtime was in order. Anyway:

Cubs 4, Phillies 3: Ryan Madson had been gold in save situations, but came up pyrite last night: Geovany Soto hit a game-tying homer off him in the ninth. Then in the 11th, Tyler Colvin scored from second when Placido Polanco threw away what would have been the third out of the inning. Colvin actually thought he had a homer in the ninth too, but it was overturned when replay showed that a Philly fan interfered with it, rendering it a ground rule double.  I can’t find a replay of that, but I’m going to assume, based on ample historical evidence, that the fan reached over the railing and barfed santa clause-themed batteries on the ball, with his nausea caused by excessive booing and cheese steak consumption.

Red Sox 8, Yankees 3: Finally, the plunkings happen. Josh Beckett hit Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia hit David Ortiz. If you’re the kind of person who keeps a ledger of these sorts of things it strikes me that Ortiz would still require about three more plunkings under the rules people like to espouse about when you hit someone. But really, given the woodshedding that the Yankees got in this series, it would come off kinda desperate and sad.  And let’s face it: that’s just not how the Yankees have ever really rolled. They tend to get their revenge by signing your free agent target and then winning a championship and acting all smug about it, not by throwing at people.

Braves 3, Marlins 2: The eighth straight loss for Florida, seven of which have been one-run games. Just awful luck for them. The law of averages — one run game edition — usually treats you more fairly than that. Jair Jurrjens is now tied with a number of fellows for the MLB lead in wins. Not bad considering he missed the first two weeks of the season on the DL.

Royals 3, Blue Jays 2: Hey, I’m not made of stone, so I gotta give Jeff Francouer some love here. Two RBI for the guy I love to loathe, while Luke Hochevar picks up his first win since May 1st.

Reds 3, Giantos 0: Seven shutout innings for Johnny Cueto. On Wednesday the Reds played a game in 90+ degree temperatures at home. Game time temperature for this one in San Francisco: 59 degrees.

Padres 7, Nationals 3: Anthony Rizzo debuts with by going 1 for 2 with a triple, two walks and a run scored. Not bad. Meanwhile, the Aaron Harang rejuvenation tour of Petco Park continues apace. He’s 7-2 now with a 3.71 ERA. In other news, it seems like Washington has been on this west coast swing for a month.

Rockies 9, Dodgers 7: Troy Tulowitzki drove in four and the Rockies finally got to Clayton Kershaw, who had thrown five shutout innings at them before stumbling though the sixth and seventh.

Mets 4, Brewers 1: A nice bounceback win after having their guts ripped out the night before. Jonathon Niese was solid into the eighth inning. Terry Collins’ actual quote after the game:

“This team was flat last night, they just came back today and just realized today was another day. I think with all that’s happened, it just rolls off their back now. It’s another obstacle they’ve got to climb over. They’re just kind of getting immune to it.”

I’m assuming that he has a metaphor/cliche punch card that he’s trying to get filled up before the end of the month so he can get a free sub or something.

Cardinals 9, Astros 2: St. Louis put up a 5-spot in the sixth inning when Lance Berkman continued to haunt his old mates with an RBI single to kick the scoring off. Berkman has played six games at Minute Maid Park this year. In those games he’s hitting .480 with five home runs and 12 RBI.

Twins 5, Rangers 4: Minnesota blew an early three-run lead, but Alexi Casilla hit an RBI single with two outs in the ninth inning to salvage it. The Twins have won seven of ten.

White Sox 9, Athletics 4: Bob Melvin’s debut didn’t look any different than Bob Geren’s last nine games, but I guess A’s players were happier about it. Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko each had two-run homers. Mark Buehrle started for the Sox and the game lasted 2:51. Which for him had to feel like 11 hours. He’s 5-1 with a 3.00 ERA in his last seven starts.

Tigers 4, Mariners 1: Justin Verlander faced a Mariners’ lineup that featured Adam Kennedy starting at first base and hitting in the three-hole, and the results were fairly predictable: 8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 10K. Alex Avila hit two triples. The game took 2 hours, 17 minutes.

Diamondbacks 2, Pirates 0: A zero-zero tie until Chris Young hit a two-run homer in the eighth and — surprise surprise — the Dbacks’ bullpen made it stand up.

MLB managers weigh in on anthem protests

Getty Images
Leave a comment

No other Major League Baseball player has taken a knee during the National Anthem since Athletics’ catcher Bruce Maxwell‘s protest on Saturday night. The demonstration was sparked by President Donald Trump’s call for the boycott of the National Football League and the firing of any player who chose not to stand during the anthem. The comments drew harsh criticism from many NFL players, coaches and owners and more than a few in MLB have also lended their support. There is still one game left to play on Sunday, but it’s unclear whether any of Maxwell’s league-mates will show their solidarity by refusing to stand as well.

Given a baseball culture that tends toward conformity more often than not, it seems unlikely. But it’s something league managers are prepared for — even if they don’t all agree with the demonstrations themselves.

White Sox’ skipper Rick Renteria specifically addressed Maxwell’s protest on Sunday, speaking to the league’s policy of inclusivity:

None of the White Sox knelt prior to their series finale against the Royals. Neither did members of the Pirates or the Cardinals, though St. Louis manager Mike Matheny and Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington both weighed in on the situation.

Matheny called the president’s comments “hurtful” and, like the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, appeared content to leave the decision to protest up to each player.

The Pirates, meanwhile, took a firmer tone. “We appreciate our players’ desire and ability to express their opinions respectfully and when done properly,” GM Huntington told Elizabeth Bloom of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “When done appropriately and properly, we certainly have respect for our players’ ability to voice their opinion.”

Just what the Pirates consider “appropriate and proper” protocol was left up in the air, and club president Frank Coonelly offered no further insights in a separate statement to the press. Setting strict parameters for players to voice their opinions kind of puts them in a gray area, one they’ll have to clear up should someone elect to protest in the days to come, either with a bent knee and a hand over their heart or in some other fashion.

Equally ambiguous were comments from Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts, who claimed to oppose the movement for personal, if misguided reasons, but also respected the right of his players to make an “educated” statement in protest.

The Indians’ Terry Francona took what was perhaps the most balanced approach of the entire group:

“It’s easy for me to sit here and say, ‘Well, I think this is the greatest country in the world,’ because I do,” Francona told MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “But, I also haven’t walked in other people’s shoes. So, until I think, not just our country, but our world, until we realize that, hey, people are actually equal — it shouldn’t be a revelation — and the different doesn’t mean less. It’s just different. We’ve got work to do.”

These may all be moot points. Maxwell may be the only player to formally protest Trump’s comments, despite the good intentions of his teammates and fellow players around the league. Others may feel too ambivalent, threatened or uncomfortable to protest what the A’s catcher referred to as a “racial divide,” especially in a way that is routinely perceived as unpatriotic.

Even if the protests made by NFL players and Bruce Maxwell fail to gain momentum, however, the underlying issues they speak to are not going away anytime soon. Here, then, is where MLB managers can help foster a more inclusive environment throughout the league, not only by showing respect for a player’s decision to stand against racism but by actively partnering with those who do so. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start.

Nationals plan to activate Bryce Harper on Monday

Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals are planning to activate Bryce Harper from the 10-day disabled list on Monday, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post reports. Janes adds that Harper has been taking his knee injury on a day-to-day basis, so if he experiences pain ahead of tomorrow’s series opener in Philadelphia, then the Nationals won’t activate him.

Harper, 24, suffered a knee injury running out a grounder last month against the Giants. The Nationals hope to get him into some game action before the end of the regular season just so he can get acclimated in time for the playoffs.

When Harper returns, he’ll look to improve on his .326/.419/.614 slash line with 29 home runs, 87 RBI, and 92 runs scored in 472 plate appearances.