Cleveland Indians v Detroit Tigers

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Tigers 4, Indians 0: If often seems like the game Justin Verlander is playing is unfairly easy when the game everyone else is playing is so damned hard. A no-hitter into the eighth, a two-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts overall.

Rays 4, Red Sox 0: James Shields with a five-hit shutout. Carl Crawford’s return to Tampa Bay was probably a lot like seeing your ex at a party: your joy at seeing her is inversely related to the figure she cuts as she walks into the room. If she looks like a million dollars and has a suave and swarthy young man on her arm, you don’t want to see her. If she’s not at her best and is attached to a frumpy and disheveled older gentleman, well then, let’s go say our hellos.  Carl Crawford was 0 for 3 with a strikeout in his return to Tampa Bay, so I assume that because of that the Rays crowd greeted him more and more warmly as the night went on, even going to far as to engage the older gentleman accompanying him in conversation, offering him a subtle reminder that his date once had it much, much better.

Angels 4, Mariners 0: Five hit shutouts must have been contagious last night, because Jered Weaver had one too.

Mets 4, Braves 3: Jose Reyes continues to be ridiculously good, going 3 for 5, stealing two bases and scoring twice, and Jair Jurrjens has his worst outing of the year (5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 5 BB). But really, with all of those Mets on base, it should have been way worse for Atlanta.

Nationals 8, Cardinals 6: St. Louis had a 6-1 lead after five innings and blew it, primarily on the power of Miguel Bautista imploding for five runs in two-thirds of the six-run seventh inning. Only one of the Nats’ runs came on an extra base hit. The rest were singles, fielder’s choices, wild pitches, and other small stuff.

Pirates 1, Astros 0: Just your standard six-pitcher shutout, with Jeff Karstens leading the way (6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER). Let’s be charitable to the Astros too and give new pitching coach Doug Brocail credit for the nice showing by Bud Norris and the pen. No I don’t believe he had anything to with that, but if we as a group are going to believe that midseason coaching changes matter, let’s go all the way with the charade.

Phillies 9, Marlins 1: Chris Volstad fooled no one (5.2 IP, 10 H, 8 ER). Cole Hamels fooled many (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).  For Philly, it was mostly a homer-fest, with four guys in red pinstripes going yard, Domonic Brown doing so twice.

Yankees 12, Rangers 4: Curtis Granderson hit a two-run homer and a two-run single. Pretty much everyone else for the home team hit too. I suppose that they were inspired emotionally by Derek Jeter’s tragic death.  Wait, what? You mean he didn’t die?  He just went on the disabled list? Hmm. I guess I need to actually read the news stories instead of merely gleaning their emotional tone when trying to determine what happened.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: Adam Lind walks off with an 11th inning homer. He also led off the Jays’ scoring with an RBI double in the first.

Reds 3, Dodgers 2: The Reds have gotten great starting pitching over the last week and a half or so, and Johnny Cueto’s outing last night continued it, as he allowed only a single unearned run in seven innings.

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5: San Francisco jumped out to a 5-0 lead but the snakes clawed back. Wait: snakes don’t have claws. That makes no sense. Anyway, the comeback came a bit short.

Rockies 6, Padres 3: According to the game story, Jim Tracy held a closed-door meeting before the game, the Rockies won and all is right with the world.  I always wondered what would happen if baseball teams were run like British Parliament. If, say, after the closed-door meeting the team came out and performed lackadaisically, would that be akin to a no-confidence vote and would the general manager have to dissolve the team, the manager resign and elections be held?  And what the hell is a Chancellor of the Exchequer anyway?

Cubs 5, Brewers 4: Starlin Castro had three hits, including a walkoff hit in the 10th inning, capping the Cubs’ comeback from a 4-1 deficit in the eighth. Aramis Ramirez had a two-run bomb in the eighth to tie it up at 4.

Royals 7, Athletics 4: From the AP game story:

Kansas City pitcher Danny Duffy didn’t see much need to celebrate his first victory in the major leagues. His teammates thought otherwise and gave the Royals rookie a milk shower.

I hope that wasn’t a euphemism.

White Sox vs. Twins: POSTPONED:  The rain cooled about half-past three to a damp mist, through which occasional thin drops swam like dew. Gatsby looked with vacant eyes through a copy of Clay’s ECONOMICS, starting at the Finnish tread that shook the kitchen floor, and peering toward the bleared windows from time to time as if a series of invisible but alarming happenings were taking place outside. Finally he got up and informed me, in an uncertain voice, that he was going home.

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]