Carl Crawford, Mike Napoli

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Red Sox 13, Rangers 2: I would like to thank the Rangers’ pitchers for providing us with a pennant race in the AL West that we didn’t think we’d have. Carl Crawford was reanimated for this one and drove in five.

Angels 8, White Sox 0: It’s not just about Texas’ pitching sucking though. It’s a pennant race that the Angels are forcing due to their hot play since allegedly being knocked out of things by Texas in last week’s series. Guess not, because that’s six straight wins. Jered Weaver with eight strikeouts in seven shutout innings. Anaheim is only 2.5 back.

Athletics 6, Yankees 4: Coco Crisp made the Yankees people I follow on Twitter use a lot of bad words last night. Two homers including a three-run shot in the 10th inning. He drove in five overall. Nick Swisher had two homers also, but since he only cares about padding his statistics and not winning, they don’t count. This is the first series victory for Oakland over New York in eleven tries.

Rockies 7, Astros 6: Troy Tulowitzki scored on a wild pitch in the bottom of the 10th as the Rockies won their fifth straight. It feels like the Rockies have been out of contention forever and I wouldn’t bet a dime on their chances to get back into it, but it’s not against the laws of physics for there to be at least some sort of Rocktober — or is it Rocktember? — run in them that will at least give us something to talk about. I mean, it’s like either Arizona or San Francisco seems interested in taking the division by the throat.

Marlins 6, Reds 5Reds 3, Marlins 2: A homer for Logan Morrison in his first game back after being sent to his room for his impudence, er, I mean after being sent down to the minors to work on his hitting. In the nightcap Bronson Arroyo threw eight scoreless and Joey Votto homered. He actually homered in the day game too.

Mariners 9, Indians 2: Wily Mo Pena went 3 for 3 with four driven in, falling a triple short of the cycle. Would like to have seen him leg out a triple, but he also walked in this one, and you can only ask for so many once-in-a-lifetime occurrences. Kyle Seager went 4 for 4 and hit three doubles.

Dodgers 9, Cardinals 4: L.A. sweeps the reeling Cardinals. The reeling Cardinals who are ten games back of Milwaukee now, which is the biggest deficit for any second place team in baseball.

Mets 7, Phillies 4: Mike Pelfrey threw 125 pitches in only six innings and seemed like he tried to pick a fight with Placido Polanco. Sort of glad I didn’t watch this one because inefficiency and belligerence don’t make for good baseball in my book.  Whatever. The Mets avoid the sweep.

Pirates 2, Brewers 0:  Aaron Thompson made his big league debut and shut out the hottest team in baseball for nearly five innings. If it wasn’t for the hard pitch count he was on he would have got the win, but that’s life for a youngin.’ The pen finished the shutout and two sac flies was all the offense that anyone needed.

Diamondbacks 4, Nationals 2: Daniel Hudson allowed nothin’ but zeroes for eight and two-thirds and then gave up back-to-back homers. Not a shutout but ….

Blue Jays 4, Royals 3: I, for one, welcome our new Brett Lawrie overlords. He hit what proved to be the game-winning homer and also plated a run with a triple. The kid is now hitting .328/.379/.656 in 18 games.

Rays 3, Tigers 2: Elliot Johnson had the game-winning fielder’s choice. It came with two outs and the bases loaded, and the run scored because Sean Rodriguez booked it like no one’s business from first to second and avoided the force out. If he lollygags there, the game goes into the 11th.

Giants 2, Padres 1: Tim Lincecum allowed only one run in eight innings and drove one in himself, giving himself a 0 NLP — crap, I can’t remember the name of the phony statistic I came up with the other day. Carlos Beltran had a homer.

Cubs 3, Braves 2: Randy Wells more or less tied the Braves’ bats up into the seventh inning, allowing one run. He also drove one in.  Alfonso Soriano hit a two-run bob. Jason Heyward was 0 for 4 with a strikeout, so I guess my reverse jinx thing isn’t working anymore. Enjoy the bench today, big guy.

Orioles 6, Twins 1: A five run fifth makes this a laugher for Baltimore. The death of Mike Flanagan, however, takes all of the laughs away.

Marlins acquire starter Dan Straily from the Reds

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 3: Dan Straily #58 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a pitch during the first inning of the game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park on September 3, 2016 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
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The Miami Marlins have acquired starting pitcher Dan Straily from the Cincinnati Reds. In exchange, the Reds will receive right-handed pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice and outfield prospect Isaiah White.

For the Marlins, they get a solid starter who logged 191.1 innings of 113 ERA+ ball last year. Straily has moved around a lot in his five big league seasons — the Marlins will be his fifth club in six years — but it was something of a breakout year for him in Cincinnati. The only troubling thing: he tied for the league lead in homers allowed. Of course, pitching half of his games in Great American Ballpark didn’t help that, and Miami will be a better place for him.

Castillo is 24. He split last season between high-A and Double-A — far more of it in A-ball — posting a 2.26 ERA over 24 starts. Austin Brice is also 24. He pitched 15 games in relief for the Marlins last year at the big league level with poor results. He seemed to blossom at Triple-A, however, after the Marlins shifted him to the pen. White was a third round pick in the 2015 draft. He played low-A ball as a minor leaguer last year, hitting .214/.306/.301.

A mixed bag of young talent for the Reds, but stockpiling kids and seeing what shakes out is what a team like the Reds should be doing at the moment. For the Marlins: a solid mid-to-back end starter who may just be coming into his own.

Have Hall of Fame Voters actually made the PED thing More complicated?

Sammy Sosa
Associated Press
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The story coming out of this year’s Hall of Fame balloting is that the BBWAA voters are finally easing their antipathy toward players with performance enhancing drug associations.

Jeff Bagwell — the subject of unconfirmed PED rumors — made the Hall! Pudge Rodriguez, who was named in Jose Canseco’s book and who had a . . . curious physical transformation around the time PED testing came online, made it on the first ballot! Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, whose PED use was well-documented, saw their vote totals advance above the 50% mark, making their future elections look more likely!

It’s an interesting development, and one I’m obviously pleased with, but I wonder if the BBWAA’s new approach to PED guys, while far more forgiving than it used to be, has actually become more complicated in practice.

I ask this because I look way, way down the ballot and I still see Sammy Sosa scraping by with around 8% of the vote. I ask this because I still see Gary Sheffield at 13%. I ask this because when Mark McGwire was on the Today’s Game ballot in December, no one really stumped for him at all. I ask this because, even though Bagwell and Mike Piazza got in eventually, they still had to go through a lot of hazing first and I suspect, if they hit the ballot for the first time again tomorrow, the same arguments and delay would occur with respect to their cases.

In light of that, what I suspect has happened has not been a wholesale surrender of the anti-PED voters. Rather, I think it has been a transformation. One in which a moral test — did he use PEDs or not? — has been discarded as a threshold question and a scientific/physiological test — would he have been great even without the PEDs? — has replaced it. In essence, voters are becoming “PED discounters” in the aggregate. Making calculations as to whether a guy was, in their mind, a creation of PEDs or not.

Such an approach explains these new voting patterns as well as those in recent years.

  • Ivan Rodriguez may have been called out by Canseco and may have noticeably shrunk over an offseason, but his calling card was his defense behind the plate and voters, I suspect, have told themselves that such a thing is not PED-aided.
  • Bonds and Clemens may have been PED users, but each of them was undeniably talented and, if you discount for the PED use, hey, they’re still all-time greats.
  • Sammy Sosa’s case rests disproportionately on homers and, as everyone knows, PEDs = instant dingers, so no, he’s not gonna cut it.

And so on.

As I said, I’m glad that the strict moral test — did he use or not? — is losing its hold on Hall voters. But I do not think the “did PEDs make him who he was test?” is a good approach either. Baseball writers are in no better a position to assess the physiological and performance enhancements caused by pharmaceuticals than they are to be judges of character and morality. Given the identities of players confirmed to be PED users, the old eye test implicit in these cases is famously faulty (Neifi Perez, anyone?). The idea that PEDs only affect home run totals — and not, say, the ability for a player to take the abuse of the catcher position for 21 seasons — is crude and ignorant.

I suppose it’s naive to expect voters to completely disregard PEDs in their assessment of players. It’s a bell that cannot be unrung. But while we may, thankfully, be moving away from a moral test with respect to drugs, it’s been displaced by a scientific test that is no more reasonable in practice.