And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Reds 1: Albert Pujols was activated, but did not play. Makes me think this was a whole “Westley bluffing his way to victory over Humperdink even though he was still partly paralyzed from the ‘mostly dead’ thing” from “The Princess Bride.”  His mere presence and threat carried the day, at least psychologically speaking. Meanwhile, Matt Holliday and his two home runs fill the role of Inigo Montoya, kicking everyone’s butt to very little fanfare.

Reds Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: One of the more harrowing 3-2 games you’ll see. Partially because the Sox lost Jon Lester to strain of the old latissimus dorsi. Partially because Jonathan Papelbon has apparently been bored lately and decided to make a 3-0 game interesting. And then of course, the home plate umpire blew the call at home, calling Edwin Encarnacion out when he really was safe. An assist on that to Jason Varitek, who blocked the plate in a way that we all sorta decided catchers shouldn’t do back when Buster Posey got injured, but which I’m guessing most folks will call a heads up play today.  But really, if you’re looking for intellectual consistency in sports, don’t come to baseball. We’re all about nuance and duality here.

Pirates 5, Astros 1: Jeff Karstens allowed one run in seven innings. Is it just me or does it seem like Karstens starts every other day for the Buccos?  OK, I’ll admit that’s improbable and is likely a function of me not paying as close attention to the box scores as a I should. But really, I’m pretty sure he’s had 42 starts so far this year (no, I’m not checking; no time).

Nationals 3, Cubs 2: Jeff Baker thew what should have been an easy out way clear of the second base bag, leading to two Nats’ runs and more or less deciding the ballgame, even though it happened in the first inning. Five Nats pitchers took it the rest of the way.

Phillies 14, Marlins 2: Amazing but true fact: when you give Cole Hamels 14 runs, he never loses.

Braves 5, Rockies 3: Freddie Freeman hit another homer. And as I was looking at his player bio page, I notice that he looks a lot like my high school friend Eric used to look circa 1989 or so. Eric and I saw “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” together at the theater and then went to Myrtle Beach together after we graduated, but you probably don’t care about that, though. How about this, then: Derek Lowe helped his own cause with a bases-loaded double. Wait, you think Eric is more interesting than my cliche phrases? Man, tough crowd.

Rangers 4, Orioles 2: Matt Harrison gave up 11 hits in six innings and only two runs scored. Without having seen any of this game, that seems like a failure to capitalize issue from the O’s part, no? Mostly, though, it was a failure of Orioles’ reliever Jim Johnson to shut the damn door when he came in with a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning.

Diamondbacks 7, Brewers 3: Hey, look on the bright side Brewers’ fans: starting down 7-1 early, at least your boys didn’t blow a big lead this time!

Yankees 9, Indians 2: Jeter had two hits. I was hoping he’d get four or five simply so that the Yankees could worry that even a moderately decent day tomorrow would have him reach 3,000 on the road. But hey, we can’t get everything we want. More significantly, Curtis Granderson had two homers and CC Sabathia continued to make the people who left him off the All-Star team look like fools (7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 11K).

Twins 3, Rays 2: The Twins — who used six pitchers, thanks in part to starter Scott Baker’s strained elbow– beat James Shields, who looked mortal for his second straight start. One gets the sense that he needs the All-Star break to be here about as bad as anyone.

Royals 5, White Sox 3: After Kansas City frittered away a 3-0 lead, a two-run Matt Treanor single in the sixth broke the 3-3 tie and pushed the Royals over.

Padres 5, Giants 3:  San Diego beats San Francisco 5-3 for the second straight day. Cameron Maybin drove in three and Anthony Rizzo two.

Mets 6, Dodgers 0: Jason Bay … is … alive. Two homers for him and a two-run shot for Carlos Beltran go nicely with six shutout innings from Mike Pelfrey. The Dodgers, they reel.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: Felix Hernandez deserved better than a no-decision after allowing one run in eight innings and striking out ten. But Brandon League blew the save in the ninth and Andrew Bailey and the A’s defense couldn’t get it done in the tenth, with the go-ahead run scoring on a throwing error and some insurance on an Adam Kennedy double.

Angels 1, Tigers 0: Dan Haren beat Justin Verlander at his own game (gettin’ lots of dudes out and not allowing many hits). A two-hit shutout for Haren. Oh, and you’ll be shocked to learn that Joe West’s crew ejected three people in this one.

Rougned Odor didn’t technically steal home, but he basically did

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Just saw this from last night’s Tigers-Rangers game. It was pretty wild.

Rougned Odor walked in the seventh inning. He broke for second on a steal and was safe due to the throw going wild, allowing him to reach third base. The Tigers called on reliever Daniel Stumpf and he was effective in retiring the next two batters, leaving Odor on third with two out.

Stumpf, a lefty, was paying no attention whatsoever to Odor, so Odor just took off for home, attempting a straight steal. Stumpf was so surprised that he tried to throw home to nail Odor, and in so doing, he balked. That technically means that Odor scored on the balk, but I think it’s safe to say he would’ve scored on the strait steal regardless. Watch:

 

He definitely gets points for style.

 

Aroldis Chapman is pitching himself out of a job

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Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman looked shaky again last night, coming in to the game with a three-run lead before allowing a two-run homer to the Mets’ Amed Rosario. He would nail down the save eventually, giving Sonny Gray his first win as a Yankee, but Chapman’s struggles were the talk of the game afterward.

It was the third appearance in a row in which Chapman has given up at least one run, allowing five runs on three hits — two of them homers — and walking four in his last three and a third innings pitched. He’s also hit a batter. That’s just the most acute portion of a long slide, however. He posted a 0.79 ERA in his first 12 appearances this year, before getting shelled twice and then going on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation, missing over a month. Since returning he’s allowed 12 runs — ten earned — in 23 appearances, breaking out to a 4.09 ERA. He’s also walked ten batters in that time. At present, his strikeout rate is the worst he’s featured since 2010. His walk rate is up and he’s allowing more hits per nine innings than he ever has.

It’s possible that he’s still suffering from shoulder problems. Whether or not that’s an issue, he looks to have a new health concern as he appeared to tweak his hamstring on the game’s final play last night when he ran over to cover first base. Chapman told reporters after the game that “it’s nothing to worry about,” and Joe Girardi said that Chapman would not undergo an MRI or anything, but he was clearly grimacing as he came off the mound and it’s something worth watching.

Also worth watching: Dellin Betances and David Robertson, Chapman’s setup men who have each shined as Yankees closers in the past and who may very soon find themselves closing once again if Chapman can’t figure it out. And Chapman seems to know it. He was asked if he still deserves to be the closer after the game. His answer:

“My job is to be ready to pitch everyday. As far as where I pitch, that’s not up to me. If at some point they need to remove me from the closer’s position, I’m always going to be ready to pitch.”

That’s a team-first answer, and for that Chapman should be lauded. But it’s also one that suggests Chapman himself knows he’s going to be out of a closer’s job soon if he doesn’t turn things around.