And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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This edition of And That Happened is being written in a New York City hotel room, so if it takes on a tone of fright and confusion at the horrifying, dystopian cacophony that is New York, well, that’s why:

Blue Jays 1, Athletics 0: Luis Perez makes his first big league start and holds the A’s to one hit over six innings. “Hey, skip? Am I doin’ this right?”  “Sure, Luis. Just swell.”

Tigers 8, Indians 7: Austin Jackson = Gandalf. Kosuke Fukodome = Balrog. YOU SHALL NOT PASS!  So, Cleveland is dead now, right?

Nationals 5, Phillies 4: The walkoff HBP. After a weekend of late losses and hours upon hours of rain delays, I’m guessing that the Phillies are happy to get the hell out of Washington.

Rockies 5, Dodgers 3: I love how no one on the planet cared that the Rockies hadn’t won on a bunch of Sundays in a row until last week and then, the very next Sunday, they win.

Padres 4, Marlins 3: Will Venable hit a bases loaded single to win it and to gain the sweep in walkoff fashion.  Of course he wouldn’t have been able to do that if Heath Bell hadn’t blown a save. On the same day that Trevor Hoffman’s number was retired no less. Maybe Hoffman should have pitched.

Giants 6, Astros 4: Pablo Sandoval hits a two-run job in the 11th to salvage one against the Astros. The fact that they had to salvage one against the Astros is kind of sad, of course.

Angels 7, Orioles 1: Jerome Williams — Really, Jerome Williams — shut the O’s down. It was his first win in the bigs since September 2005. My son was two months old then. He’s starting first grade tomorrow.

Reds 5, Pirates 4: The Reds faced Joel Hanrahan three times over the weekend and they beat him twice.

Yankees 3, Twins 0: Curtis Granderson hit an inside the park homer which, given that the Twins’ right and centerfielders lined up poorly to play the carom off the wall, and given that the relay throw was candy-armed into home, wasn’t quite as impressive as one might think. I mean, great for Granderson, but like so many inside the parkers, it was built on a foundation of defense that was poor enough to allow the play but not poor enough to count for an error.

Red Sox 6, Royals 1: First sentence of the Associated Press recap: ” Jon Lester loves to face the Kansas City Royals.”  Well, duh. Who doesn’t?

Braves 1, Diamondbacks 0: The Braves sweep the Diamondbacks. Tim Hudson, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel combine for the five-hit shutout. Fredi Gonzalez called a silly squeeze play once that backfired, but since the Braves won I suppose we’re not supposed to care about such things. Can’t wait until he does it against the Brewers in the NLDS.

White Sox 10, Rangers 0: Gavin Floyd was stingy and the White Sox pounded the Rangers. Here is as good a place as any to mention that I stupidly left the umbrella I brought with me to New York in my hotel room when I left to go out yesterday afternoon. When I emerged from the building I was in, it was pouring, and the hotel was just as far from where I was as was the restaurant I was going to, so I had little choice but to buy one of those cheapo umbrellas from a street vendor. It lasted almost two blocks before getting soaked through.  In other news, you can count on me to do one really dumbass newbie out-of-his-depth thing on every trip to New York. Maybe next time I’ll take an $80 gypsy cab ride from the airport or something. If you have any suggestions of ways I can make my life harder for myself when I leave my safe little Midwestern basement, please, leave them in the comments.

Brewers 6, Mets 2: One of the more pointed sentences you’ll read in an AP recap:

“Milwaukee won three straight in Queens to send the Mets six games under .500 for the first time since May 4 with a thorough display of superior baseball this weekend.”

Rays 8, Mariners 7: Johnny Damon had what he thought was a grand slam taken off the board thanks to a video replay in the seventh inning, but then hit a no-doubt walkoff homer in the ninth. Joe Girardi protested both calls. It was really strange.

Cardinals 6, Cubs 2: Rodrigo Lopez was hit so hard his kids are gonna come out shakin’.

Nationals activate Stephen Strasburg off the disabled list

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The Nationals officially activated Stephen Strasburg off the 10-day disabled list, the team announced Saturday. They’ll pencil him into the starting lineup for their second set against the Padres on Saturday night. Strasburg is expected to assume Max Scherzer‘s roster spot after Scherzer landed on the disabled list with neck inflammation prior to Friday’s series opener. No other roster moves appear to be necessary for the time being.

Strasburg, 28, is finally looking stable after serving a 26-day stint on the DL with a right elbow nerve impingement. It’s the first serious injury he’s sustained since last August, when he missed 20 days with inflammation in his right elbow, and one the Nationals are taking seriously as they juggle multiple stints for their elite starters. He’ll enter Saturday’s competition with a 10-3 record in 20 starts, supplemented by a 3.25 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 through 121 2/3 innings.

Elbow issues are nothing to be played around with, but Strasburg’s performance in his lone rehab outing relieved any residual apprehension the Nats might have had about his activation this weekend. He tossed 66 pitches for High-A Potomac, hitting 95 MPH with his heater and logging three hits, one run, one walk and five strikeouts over five innings. Club manager Dusty Baker is hoping for a similarly dominant start against the Padres, and told reporters that he’ll hold Strasburg to a performance count as the righty works his way back to a full-time gig.

MLB umpires will wear white wristbands to protest “escalating verbal attacks”

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The World Umpires Association is dissatisfied with the punishment meted out to Tigers’ second baseman Ian Kinsler following his lengthy criticism of MLB umpire Angel Hernandez on Tuesday. Kinsler’s comments were sparked by a confrontation on Monday night, when the infielder was ejected after arguing balls and strikes with Hernandez in the fifth inning.

“It has to do with changing the game. He’s changing the game. He needs to find another job, he really does,” Kinsler told reporters. “Candidly, leave the game. No one wants you behind the plate anymore. No one in this game wants you behind the plate any more, none of the players.”

Kinsler was fined an undisclosed amount for the remarks, but did not receive a suspension. Hernandez, meanwhile, returned to cover second base the next day and appeared to resolve the conflict with a brief conversation and a handshake.

Whether or not the comments speak to underlying truths about Major League Baseball’s flawed umpiring system, they clearly got under the skin of the World Umpires Association. The union released a statement Saturday condemning Major League Baseball for choosing to overlook the “escalating attacks” on the men in blue:

This week, a player publicly and harshly impugned the character and integrity of Angel Hernandez – a veteran umpire who has dedicated his career to baseball and the community. The verbal attack on Angel denigrated the entire MLB umpiring staff and is unacceptable.

The Office of the Commissioner has failed to address this and other escalating attacks on umpires. The player who denigrated Hernandez publicly said he thought he would be suspended. Instead got far more lenient treatment – a fine. He shrugged that off and told reporters he has ‘no regrets’ about his offensive statements calling for an end to Hernandez’s career.

The Office of the Commissioner’s lenient treatment to abusive player behavior sends the wrong message to players and managers. It’s ‘open season’ on umpires, and that’s bad for the game.

We are held accountable for our performance at every game. Our most important duty is to protect the integrity of the game, and we will continue to do that job every day. But the Office of the Commissioner must protect our integrity when we are unfairly attacked simply for doing our jobs.

Starting Saturday, umpires will don white wristbands in protest of the Commissioner’s lack of support, and will continue to do so until their concerns are addressed.

Kinsler’s comments may have been in poor taste, but given the established in-game ramifications for challenging an umpire’s decisions, it’s difficult to tell where the union wants MLB to start drawing the line. If players already face ejections for questioning the parameters of a strike zone (often immediate ones, without any room for a productive or non-confrontational discussion), it seems unfair to hit them with suspensions for venting their frustrations after the game. Until Major League Baseball finds a way to start automating calls, however, the “human element” of the game will continue to pose problems for players and umpires alike.