Justin Upton

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 3, Giants 2: Justin Upton with the walkoff homer, served up by Santiago Casilla in the 10th. It was Upton’s first game-ending homer ever. He also had a single and a double on the day, but remember, don’t you dare say that he was a triple short of the cycle, because that’s just dumb, man.

Nationals 7, Cardinals 4: Upton wasn’t the only one walking off in the 10th inning:  Danny Espinosa with the three-run walkoff jack. Anyone think St. Louis is gonna look back at this series in September and say “man, how did the Nats give us so much crap?”

Phillies 3, Marlins 0: A three-hitter for Cliff Lee. He also drove in the only run that the Phillies would end up needing. So yeah, I guess he’ll stick at this level.

Braves 9, Mets 8: Atlanta wins on a walkoff balk in the 10th. Sad: the Braves still have a celebration at the plate as if it were a bases loaded double. Sadder still: that, given how crappy their offense has been, the celebration was sorta justified.

Cubs 12, Brewers 7: Fukodome had a huge day and Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Pena also went deep. Which is sort of like what most Cubs games would have been like if all of the huge money gambles on veterans Jim Hendry has made over the years had always paid off on the upside. A train wreck of a day for Zack Greinke (5.1 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 10K).

Athletics 8, Royals 4: This has nothing to do with this game, but APBA Guy will be along in the comments soon to recap it better than me anyway:  a shallow entertainment gossip website I like to go to sometimes summed up the “Moneyball” trailer that has been floating around thusly: “So this movie tells the story of how the worlds most boring sport added math to create a system that doesn’t work. Holy sh*t, can I go stand in line now?”  I ain’t gonna lie: I lol’d.

Pirates 5, Astros 4: Everyone gets well in Houston. That’s four straight wins for Pittsburgh. A three-run homer for Garrett Jones. Andrew McCutchen’s hitting streak ended in this one despite the fact that he had a single. Weird, I know.

Twins 1, White Sox 0: Combine Mark Buehrle on his game with the White Sox not hitting themselves, and you’re going to get a short game. This one: 2:09, and the Twins on top thanks to eight shutout innings by Nick Blackburn. A Michael Cuddyer homer was the only offensive noise here.

Yankees 3, Rangers 2: The Rangers get swept for the first time all year. The hero of the day for New York: Brian Gordon, a 32-year-old who, until a couple of days ago, was in the Phillies organization and who was making just his fourth ever major league appearance. The previous three were for Texas back in 2008, but in this one he gave the Yankees a solid spot start, allowing two runs in five and a third. Nice story. Too bad it will be beat into the ground today by the overzealous New York press like it’s their very own Jim Morris thing, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a nice story.

Tigers 6, Indians 2: Detroit takes two of three from the Indians, have won 13 of 18 total, and now have first place to themselves. Jim Leyland: “We’ve got a little something going, but it’s such a long grind. I don’t get carried away.”  Actually, he gets carried away a lot, but he’s just deciding not to in this instance, which is kind of cute.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3: Jeremy Guthrie pitched well but strained his back, left early and got a no-decision, so that’s kind of a bummer.

Red Sox 4, Rays 2: Eleven wins in twelve games. A road trip on which they go 8-1.  The Red Sox are in juggernaut territory.

And now a brief programming note: Beyond the recaps I won’t be blogging today (my HBT companions will be, of course).  Why am I out?  Because the missus and I are taking a three-day romantic getaway. Where? Bourbon country. And yes, the bourbon is the object of the romance and the entire point of the trip. Take that, wine country fancy pantses.

Do what you love in life, people. It’s the key to happiness.

See you Monday.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.