And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cubs 5, Giants 2: Just your standard hit-a-tying-homer-off-the-World-Champs’-closer-in-the-ninth/hit-a-three-run-walkoff-homer-in-the-13th-inning kind of game for the Cubbies. Aramis Ramirez and Geovany Soto did the honors on those homers, respectively. Another in a long series of wasted Matt Cain starts for the Giants.

Tigers 5, Mets 2: Justin Verlander watched the Mets’ blitzkrieg from the dugout on the previous two nights and apparently decided that enough was enough. He has been sharper lately — he only struck out 6 — but he only allowed a run in seven innings. After the game Verlander trotted out the old “good pitching beats good hitting” saw. Which is something that is only said after someone pitches well. Because, by definition, if the hitting wins it wasn’t good pitching.  Think about that for a while and it will blow your friggin’ mind.

Yankees 5, Brewers 0: CC Sabathia was dominant, striking out a career high 13, all of them swinging. Those who watched said that his slider was the best it has ever been. Some days you just wake up with a spring in your step, I guess. Mark Teixeira hit his 300th career homer, and now leads the majors in bombs this year with 25.

Marlins 5, Athletics 4: The Feesh almost frittered away a 5-0 lead when the A’s charged late, but the defenses held. June, mercifully, is over for the Marlins. They finish the month with five wins.

Red Sox 5, Phillies 2: Anyone who had guessed that Jason Varitek was going to hit two homers in this one, raise their hand. Not so fast … everyone. Cole Hamels left early, but it really didn’t matter, because Jon Lester was on point (7 IP, 2H 0 ER). The Sox’ shaky bullpen made it look closer than it ever felt.

White Sox 6, Rockies 4: Colorado blew a 4-1 lead and Juan Pierre hit the go-ahead single in the 10th. Chicago takes two of three from Colorado and now head back to Illinois to face the Cubs.

Pirates 6, Blue Jays 2: Jeff Karstens yields but two runs over seven innings. The Jays, as is their wont, get a couple of runs on dingers, but are unable to string anything else together.

Cardinals 9, Orioles 6: I think I said something about “Lance Berkman not being able to keep this up” during yesterday’s HBT Daily video. The answer, as always, is that I’m a moron. Two homers for Berkman as the Cardinals complete the series sweep of Baltimore. A series they utterly dominated.

Astros 7, Rangers 0: Wandy Rodriguez and three relievers combine for the four-hit shutout. Jason Michaels had a homer and three RBI. The win snaps an eight game home losing streak for Houston.

The Indians are unveiling a Frank Robinson statue on Sunday

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The Cleveland Indians will unveil a Frank Robinson statue at Progressive Field on Saturday.

Robinson’s tenure in Cleveland was not long, but it was historic. On April 8, 1975, he became the first African-American manager in Major League history. He was a player-manager. One of the last ones, in fact. He spent two years in that role and then a third year — a partial year anyway — as a manager only. Robinson would go on to manage the Giants, Orioles and the Expos/Nationals, compiling a career record of 1065-1176 in 16 seasons. He is now a top MLB executive.

Robinson was, of course, a Hall of Fame player as well, lodging 21 seasons for the Reds, Orioles, Dodgers, Angels and Indians. He won two MVP awards and hit for the Triple Crown in 1966. Overall he hit 586 home runs – 10th all time – and was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1982. For an inner-circle Hall of Famer with that kind of resume he is still, strangely enough, underrated. I guess that happens when your contemporaries are Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle.

Anyway, congrats to Frank Robinson for yet another well-deserved honor in a career full of them.

Hey kids: don’t swing a weighted bat in the on deck circle

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Here’s an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal. It’s about some studies of hitters who use weighted bats or doughnuts on their bats in the on deck circle. Turns out that, contrary to conventional wisdom, using a weighted bat for practice hacks does not speed up one’s swing when one uses a naked bat in the batter’s box. In fact, it slows it down.

There are lots of caveats here. The sample size in the studies are small and they all involve college and high school players, not big leaguers. The results, however, are consistent with previous studies and they do make some intuitive sense. This is particularly the case with batting doughnuts, which add weight to a very concentrated portion of the bat, thereby changing the center of gravity and thus the swing mechanics of the hitter.

Whether this is applicable at large or to higher level hitters or not, I still find it kind of neat. I always like it when people scrutinize ingrained habits and ask whether or not that thing we’ve always done is, in fact, worth doing.