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.

Aledmys Diaz is trying to improve his defense with strobe glasses

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MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.

Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.

The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.

Eduardo Rodriguez could rejoin the Red Sox rotation in July

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Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.

The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.

He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.