Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 10, Athletics 8: Oakland scored five in the first so it looked like another shellacking was on the way for Tampa Bay. But no! The Rays put up a seven-spot in the seventh thanks in part to Desmond Jennings who had a whale of a ballgame. Every Tampa Bay starter either got a hit or scored a run in the seventh inning.

Padres 4, Diamondbacks 3:  Heath Bell and Mike Adams pitched, so they’re still in San Diego. I hate to reduce this game to that little trade deadline factoid, but sadly, that’s what this week does to my brain.  We’ll be able to talk more about plain old baseball next week.

Brewers 4, Cubs 2: Three hits including a homer for Ryan Braun. Milwaukee sweeps the Cubbies. Chicago scored four runs in the three game series.

Royals 4, Red Sox 3: I’ve been mocking Red Sox trade rumors that involve hitters coming to Boston because it’s not like the Sox need offensive help. But given that Luke Hochevar of all people held them to two runs in seven innings, maybe they do. Three straight games with a homer for Billy Butler.

Mets 10, Reds 9: Boy howdy are the Reds sucking eggs right now. Homer Bailey got lit up like a Christmas tree. Lucas Duda and Jason Bay each drove in three for the Mets. David Wright is white hot since coming off the DL: he went 3-for-5 here, was 9-for-19 in this series and he’s 15-for-33 overall since his return.

Angels 12, Tigers 7: Mark Trumbo homered and drove in five, falling a single short of the cycle. Which, hey, fine. Brad Penny and Victor Martinez argued on the mound during the game. After the game Penny said it was fine and it was a minor disagreement. After the game Martinez would not answer questions and said he wouldn’t talk about it. Martinez has a reputation for being an extremely nice and thoughtful guy. Brad Penny is kind of a douche. You tell me if things are still fine.

Marlins 5, Nationals 2: Mike Stanton: Nationals Killer. Stanton homers for the fourth in his last six games. He now has eight home runs and 14 RBIs in 12 career games at Nationals Park.  Query: is it the aesthetics of the place or the crapitude of Nats pitching that is more to his liking?

Giants 4, Phillies 1: I love this mostly because it will make a certain segment of Phillies fandom go crazy for a couple of days thinking they have to trade Domonic Brown for whatever marginal offensive upgrade they can manage. Which wouldn’t bother me a bit. I mean, if they aren’t happy with being the best team in baseball already who am I to stop them from mortgaging the future?

Pirates 5, Braves 2: Andrew McCutchen and a two-run homer in the ninth to put the game out of reach. He had three hits overall, including a go-ahead double in the fifth. The Pirates split.

Rangers 4, Twins 1: Michael Young and Chris Davis each drove in a run on singles. Neftali Feliz with a flawless save, which should make everyone feel better.

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 5: Colby Rasmus made his Jays debut and went 0-for-5 with two strikeouts. His father then gave 15 interviews about how Toronto doesn’t know how to best utilize his son. J.J. Hardy had two homers in a losing effort.

Astros 5, Cardinals 3: The curse of Colby Rasmus stretches into a second day.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: