Arizona Diamondbacks v San Francisco Giants

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Diamondbacks 6, Giants 1: Rookie Paul Goldschmidt hit his first major league home run and he did it off Tim frickin’ Lincecum. Justin Upton hit his own two-run shot, the Dbacks have won four in a row and they are now tied for first place with the Giants.  Now how about we divert some of that love we gave the Pirates for being frisky to Arizona? Because 20 years of history aside, they weren’t expected to be any better in 2011 than Pittsburgh was.

Cardinals 8, Brewers 7:  When Yadier Molinas attack. He’s got a suspension coming. Mostly for the bumping. Though note the theatrics of the home plate umpire Rob Drake, wiping his face, making it clear to everyone in the ballpark that a little spittle got on him when Molina started jawing. Like Molina’s rant needed to be up-sold.

Cubs 11, Pirates 6: Homers flyin’ everywhere. Six for the Cubs. Two for Garrett Jones. Seventeen runs and 31 hits between them.

Nationals 9, Braves 3: Rick Ankiel is on fire, hitting his third homer in two days, this one a grand slam. Of course, the Nats beating the Braves is nothing notable. They’ve been doing it pretty darn consistently for a couple of years now. Maddening.

Blue Jays 3, Rays 1: Other than a homer to Desmond Jennings in the sixth, Ricky Romero cruised. And that homer was the first and only hit he gave up in his eight innings. A homer for Jose Bautista as the Jays beat David Price for the first time in nine tires. Toronto is three games over .500 now.

Marlins 4, Mets 3: Two homers for All-Star Omar Infante, but that wasn’t enough to get the job done. The Mets led 3-2 heading into the ninth, but then Jason Isringhausen loaded the bases via a walk, a single and a HBP. Then a Justin Turner throwing error allowed two runs to score and that, as they say, was that. On the bright side: any one player can load the bases and any one player can make a key error, but it really takes teamwork for both of those things to happen for guys to blow a game in that fashion.

Reds 5, Astros 1: Homer Bailey had an impressive outing (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER), but then again, he’s always been impressive against minor leaguers. Grand slam for Edgar Renteria.

Dodgers 1, Padres 0: Hiroki Kuroda shut out the Friars on four hits over seven. Matt Kemp’s RBI single in the fourth is all that was required.

Mariners 4, Athletics 2: Based on this play alone, the Athletics’ entire infield should be suspended for a week. For those who can’t watch the video, Brendan Ryan reached third on an infield single because no A’s player really felt like covering second or third, even as a token gesture. That’s kid’s T-ball-bad.

Phillies 5, Rockies 0: Two homers for Ryan Howard, eight shutout innings for Kyle Kendrick. Remember back before the season started when I said that this team would be sort of boringly dominant in that, you wouldn’t necessarily pay attention every night, but then you’d look up in August and they’d have a double-digit lead?  Yeah, this is exactly what I was talking about.

Angels 5, Twins 1: No post-no-hitter hangover for Ervin Santana. He pitches a complete game, scattering eight hits and allowing only one run.

Orioles 8, Royals 2: Five RBI for Mark Reynolds, who homered, doubled and singled. Game time temperature: 107 degrees. Mercy.

Yankees 6, White Sox 0: Mark Teixeira sets the record for games in which a guy homers from both sides of the plate. His 12th, passing Eddie Murray and Chili Davis. Phil Hughes pitches six-innings of three-hit shutout ball in a rain-shortened game. Hmm. Does this still mean he’s heading to the bullpen?

Red Sox 3, Indians 2: Jacoby Ellsbury with the walkoff RBI single. With Jarrod Saltalamacchia running as a pinch-runner. Of course.

Tigers 6, Rangers 5: Welcome to the American League, Mike Adams. Where it rains. And where guys hit go-ahead homers against you in the eighth inning from time to time.

Tracking baseball’s “Naturals”

The Natural
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Rob Neyer has a great column in today’s New York Times in which he tracks the real life players who, at one time or another, were dubbed “The Natural.” A la Roy Hobbs in the book and movie of the same name.

There are some that a lot of people probably remember: Jeff Francoeur and Ken Griffey, Jr. as “The Natural” come to mind easily. There are some who I don’t ever recall being called “The Natural” but were, apparently, like Terry Pendelton and Karim Garcia. There are also some whose stories were far odder and far more tragic than any version of Hobbs’ tale (oh man, a Toe Nash sighting!). Then there’s Rick Ankiel, whose path may be the closest one to Hobbs’ of them all, at least broadly speaking.

Fun stuff that, in addition to being a walk down memory lane, is also an instructive lesson about how the power of narrative works in sports.

 

Sure, Carlos Gomez is the problem in Houston

Houston Astros' Carlos Gomez (30) reacts after hitting a double in the second inning of a baseball game against the Minnesota Twins, Tuesday, May 3, 2016, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
Associated Press
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No one will claim that Carlos Gomez is playing up to his ability. He’s got a .634 OPS in the 65 games he’s played for the Astros between last year and this year. Not good at all.

Still, he seems to be taking an outsized amount of the blame for the Astros’ slow start to this year. I do a weekly radio hit on a Texas station and Gomez has been the talk for three weeks when the Astros’ troubles are mentioned. Today Brian T. Smith of the Houston Chronicle spends a whole column going at Gomez, with the usual dash of “you can’t be flamboyant if you can’t back it up” sentiment often given to players like Gomez when they struggle but which is seemingly never given to players whose act is more “tough guy.” Funny that.

More notable: nowhere in the column is it mentioned that, overall, the Astros’ offense is above league average and that, in reality, it’s the pitching that’s killing them. Gomez may not be carrying his weight, but his teammates in the lineup are for now, as teammates do for every hitter at one time of the year or another. Meanwhile, Smith doesn’t seem to be writing columns about how three of the Astros’ five starters have ERAs above 5.00 and how the bullpen has been a disaster. Gomez, however, gets a “Rally Killer” subheading in reference to his performance in a game his team actually won, primarily due to the offense.

There’s also an unfortunate quote in the article. Specifically, Smith quotes Gomez as saying “For the last year and this year, I not really do much for this team. The fans be angry. They be disappointed.”

I’m sure that’s what he said, but it’s hard to escape the conclusion that the quote’s imperfect English fits satisfyingly into a column designed to rip Gomez and that it’s going to play right into stereotyping a certain sort of reader who has just HAD it with those allegedly lazy, entitled Latino players likes to engage in. For the record, its not uncommon for other players whose grammar is less than perfect to get [the bracket treatment] to make the mistakes less noticeable. Or, if the quote is less than clear or enlightening, to get the paraphrasing treatment and have his sentiment conveyed in keeping with the intent of the sentiment. I guess Gomez doesn’t get that treatment. He gets to be portrayed in such a way that a certain sort of reader will unfortunately interpret as him being too dumb or too lazy to learn proper English or something.

And no, it’s not just sensitive old Craig noticing that:

Empathy is the key word here, I think. Smith as no interest in portraying Gomez as a player who, like all players, struggles from time to time. He has to be the bad guy who is responsible for all of the Astros’ woes, it seems.

Puerto Rico official calls MLB’s likely series cancellation “an act of touristic terrorism”

Ricardo Arduengo -- Associated Press
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On Tuesday it was reported that Major League Baseball is on the verge of cancelling the upcoming series in Puerto Rico between the Marlins and the Pirates due to Zika concerns. Puerto Rico is not particularly pleased with that.

As this story from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review makes clear, their displeasure is being expressed in totally calm and rational terms:

“It’s an outrageous situation,” Rep. Angel Matos, head of the tourism commission for Puerto Rico’s House of Representatives, told the Tribune-Review. “The reality is that this cancellation is unfair, disproportionate, and makes our country look bad. It’s an act of touristic terrorism.”

I will grant that a cancellation wouldn’t be great for Puerto Rico. I will also grant that an expert cited in the same article claims that the odds of any players contracting Zika are very, very long. Indeed, he compares it to someone hitting 20 homers in a single game. Which, sure, Giancarlo Stanton is involved here so you can never totally rule it out, but it’s super unlikely.

But MLB, the union and the players involved aren’t in the business of dealing with the probability of disease contraction. They’re dealing with a bunch of players being really nervous about something vs. a two-game series in May that, while carrying big meaning for Puerto Rico, is sort of meaningless to them in a lot of ways, even if they won’t say so publicly. They’re weighing this a lot differently than tourism commission executives.

My guess is that it still gets cancelled. My guess is that, even if it does, Puerto Rico will survive this act of alleged “touristic terrorism.”

Yasiel Puig caught a big fish

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig looks to the dugout for signs as he steps out of the batter's box while facing Colorado Rockies starting pitcher Jordan Lyles in the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, April 24, 2016, in Denver. Puig drew a walk, the first of three in a row yielded by Lyles. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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I know I’m in the tank for Puig and have been for years now, but it’s a pretty fun tank so I don’t care.

Lately I’ve been taken with his hashtag game. Last week we encountered #PuigYourFriend. This one is not as good, but #PuigHungry is pretty solid too.

I just hope this isn’t ruined by word that he’s hired some social media professional to curate his feed. It’s possible and maybe likely, but I just don’t want to hear about it if it’s the case: