And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 3, Cardinals 1:  I spent my Sunday near Cincinnati. Not in Cincinnati, but just north of it, at the Kings Island theme park (i.e. the one the Bradys went to where Greg lost Mike’s plans or whatever it was; it has improved a bit since 1974).  I took Mookie and Carlo and my old man came with us to round out the group. It was about eight hundred degrees and humid and I’m pretty sure my dad and I were the only two grown men in the whole park who decided to keep our shirts on.  Actually, that’s a lie. I noticed some guys wearing shirts. One of them said “I love boobies.” It was not some clever breast cancer awareness thing either. It was just a shirt — apparently custom made at a print shop — exclaiming the wearer’s love of boobies.  There was also a teenager, who was there with his parents. wearing a black t-shirt that simply said “F*ck,” but with no asterisk.  Man, I love theme parks.

Theme park people aside, we had fun. Reds fans had fun this weekend too, watching their hometown nine take two of three from the Cards.  And I imagine the majority of the men in Great American Ballpark kept their shirts on too. Jaime Garcia? Not so much fun. He gave up a run on a wild pitch — actually two wild pitches and a disputed call at second base led to the run — and took his first ever loss to the Reds despite pitching pretty damn well.

Giants 4, Padres 3: The Giants scored what proved to be the winning run in the 11th on a Chris Stewart suicide squeeze.  It was sad to see Stewart commit suicide like that. I mean, no, he’s not likely to be a superstar, but as an experienced catcher there’s no reason he can’t forge a nice coaching career one day. Suicide squeezes: a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Twins 4, Royals 3: A three-run shot for Jim Thome — his 596th —when the Twins were down 3-1 when the game was tied 1-1 to put them ahead to stay. Jeff Francoeur homered and Melky Cabrera had two hits, increasing the chances of an awesomely hilarious trade sometime in the next two weeks.

Red Sox 1, Rays 0: Just your run-of-the-mill 15 innings of scoreless baseball. And your standard 16-inning three-hitter for Boston pitching, led by Josh Beckett’s eight innings of one-hit ball.  Jeff Niemann deserved better after his own two-hit, eight inning outing. Then again, don’t most people deserve better than they get?

Braves 9, Nationals 8: Walking Brian McCann to get to Freddie Freeman with a man on in the bottom of the ninth is the smart play. Even Freeman knew it, saying after the game that he’d walk McCann to get to him too.  But given how quickly Freeman is growing up this year, that may not be the smart play for too much longer.  A walkoff RBI single for Freeman, helping the Braves take two of three from Washington.  McCann had a three-run homer to tie it at six in the fifth inning.

Athletics 8, Angels 1: Over before it started, with an eight run first inning, highlighted by a Connor Jackson grand slam. The A’s sent Joel Pinero to the showers after he could retire only one guy, and he didn’t even get the one guy until seven runs had scored.

Tigers 4, White Sox 3: Chicago led 3-1 in the sixth but then Victor Martinez hit a two-run single and Carlos Guillen hit an RBI single to break the tie and, ultimately, win the game.

Rangers 3, Mariners 1: Eleven straight wins for Texas, as their pitching continues to look good.  Of course, anyone’s pitching would look good against the M’s.  Remember when the Mariners were a game out? Yeah, now it’s eleven and a half.

Brewers 4, Rockies 3: Shaun Marcum was cruising until he had to leave early with a stiff neck.  The pen maintained, however, and the hits kept falling for Milwaukee.

Diamondbacks 4, Dodgers 0: Daniel Hudson threw a five hit shutout, but he also hit a homer and drove in three. I’d say that he helped his own cause with that, but he did more than help. Between the pitching and the hitting, he was a one man gang. One Man Gang?

Marlins 7, Cubs 5: Greg Dobbs hit a two-run homer. Walked with the bases loaded too. Hanley Ramirez hit a solo homer in the first himself, and it was a monster shot up behind the batter’s eye in center field.

Pirates 7, Astros 5: It was 4-4 in the 11th when the Pirates scored one on a passed-ball, one on an error and one on an RBI single. Pittsburgh takes two of three from Houston and is a half game out of first.

Orioles 8, Indians 3: Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters hit homers, helping the O’s earn the series split. Now they get to play the Red Sox again, who gave them perhaps their most miserable series of the year just before the break. Let’s see if our Orioles is learning.

Phillies 8, Mets 5: Michael Martinez — a Rule 5 pick from the Nats — hit a three-run homer.  The Phillies had an 8-1 lead int the 8th, but withstood a late charge from New York, who beat up on Juan Perez, Ryan Madson and Antonio Bastardo to make things interesting.

Yankees 7, Blues Jays 2: Phil Hughes picks up a win. Hey, three months later that anyone thought it would come is better than never. Curtis Granderson drove in three.

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.