Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Los Angeles Dodgers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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I was out of town for the second weekend in a row. This time to West Virginia to visit my mother-in-law and to breathe some mountain air. Bonus: you can pick up the Beckley, West Virginia newspaper on Sunday morning and read last Wednesday’s box scores! Reminds me of being a baseball fan back in the 80s.

Thankfully I had my phone nearby. I rarely had more than one bar because my mother-in-law lives deep in a holler, but it was just enough to keep up. But really: this is the last time I go anywhere for a while. I’m pretty sure I suffer from minor convulsions and stuff without a solid Internet connection and MLB.tv, so in my fortified — and wired — compound I shall stay.

Dodgers 3, Angels 2: The Jered Weaver vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup lived up to the hype, with each pitching fabulously. Kershaw pitched a bit more fabulously, however, and a bit longer, going the distance and striking out 11, helping the Dodgers avoid the sweep. Tony Gwynn, Jr. with the walkoff RBI single.

Blue Jays 5, Cardinals 0: The Jays sweep the Cards, taking the last one on a Ricky Romero four-hit shutout.  St. Louis has lost 12 of 15 and are 1-5 since El Hombre went down. I won’t retract my “the Cardinals can weather the loss of Pujols” rebop yet, but as a talking point, it’s officially on notice.

Brewers 6, Twins 2: In contrast, I’m feeling way more comfortable with my “I declare the Twins dead” talking point from a couple of weeks ago. Minnesota is back to its run-impaired ways, having now lost five straight, scoring a total of eight runs in those five games.

Yankees 6, Rockies 4: Ty Wigginton had two homers in a game for the second time in a week, but it was — as they say — in a losing cause. Notice no one ever talks about sucky things happening “in a losing cause?” It would be apt to say something like “Joe Schmo struck out twice and totally half-assed a grounder hit right to him in a losing cause,” but we never say that for some reason.  Oh well. On Derek Jeter’s birthday, his fill-in, Eduardo Nunez, broke the tie with a seventh inning RBI single.

Buccaneers 14, Texans 10: See, it’s funny because they’re football team names that correspond with their local baseball teams on a day on which said baseball teams scored as though they were, in fact, football teams! It’s a clever juxtaposition! Aren’t I rich? A pill, I am! A pill!

Royals 6, Cubs 3: The first six Royals reached in the first inning, helping KC to a 4-0 lead that ended up being enough to win. In other news, my son has a Cubs cap, which he asked me to get for him because it had a “C” on it (his name begins with a C too). Yesterday he went outside to play and I made him wear his cap because it was really sunny out. He said “is it OK that I have a Cubs hat even though the Cubs aren’t very good?”  He’s 5 and does not really watch baseball at all, let alone follow it, so he would have no idea about how the Cubs do unless some kid on the playground told him that the Cubs suck while he had his hat on. This is what you’re up against, Chicago. Random kids 350 miles away are slamming you to random five year-olds. You cool with this?

Red Sox 4, Pirates 2: An error-filled game by Pittsburgh helps Boston avoid the sweep. Only one of Boston’s four runs was earned, so it’s not like the Sox bats are out of their mini-slump.

Nationals 2, White Sox 1: Phil Humber had a no-hitter into the sixth, but a two-run homer by Danny Espinosa in the seventh was enough for the Nats. With this game the John McLaren era ends for Washington. He finishes with a .667 winning percentage (2-1), which will probably have him at the top of the Nats’ leader board in that department for a long, long time.

Phillies 3, Athletics 1: Roy being Roy (CG, 8 H, 1 ER). An actual Charlie Manuel quote from after the game: “He’s pretty steady.” Gee, ya think, Cholly?  Jimmy Rollins went 4 for 4 and scored twice.

Orioles 7, Reds 5: Word to your moms, Baltimore came to drop bombs: three homers yesterday, nine in the series while scoring 17 runs. The O’s take two of three from Cincy.

Tigers 8, Diamondbacks 3: Detroit wins on the day Sparky Anderson’s number was retired. Somewhere — wherever Sparky’s soul resides — he probably told someone that Don Kelly was the next Tom Brookens and that Tom Brookens should have been the next George Kell. Which, if you followed Sparky’s career, makes total sense. A seven run eighth inning sealed it for Detroit. Jhonny Peralta was 3 for 4 with two RBI.

Mets 8, Rangers 5:  Jose Reyes had four hits and scored three runs because he’s pretty much unstoppable this year. Dillon Gee rebounds from a not-so-great start to win his eighth game with six solid innings.

Padres 4, Braves 1: It’s not every day you score four runs off Johnny Venters. In fact, it’s no day until yesterday, but the Padres smacked this year’s most unhittable reliever around for four on four hits and a couple of walks to rally in the eighth inning. Damndest thing was that Venters almost got out of it with no one scoring, but the Padres plated all four runs with two outs.

Giants 3, Indians 1: Last time we saw Madison Bumgarner he was allowing the first eight Minnesota Twins hitters he faced to reach and score. This time: he struck out 11 Indians and allowed only one run in seven innings. I guess he was well-rested this time out.

Mariners 2, Marlins 1: The go-ahead run scored when Marlin’s reliever Steve Cishek threw a wild pitch with a runner on third during an intentional walk. Holy schnikes! Best part: with the reason for the intentional walk now gone, Jack McKeon had Cishek actually pitch to the batter, who had been given three of the four balls for the walk already. Cishek struck him out. I don’t approve when pitchers come back to the dugout after a tough inning, punch something and break their hand, but in this case I think that would have been an acceptable behavior for Cishek.

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)
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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)
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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)
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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.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.