St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers

And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 8, Brewers 4: Albert Pujols came up big — two homers including a grand slam — and the Cards swept the division-leading Brewers. Yes, that’s cool, but some perspective: Even if the Brewers go .500 in their remaining games the Cardinals would have to go 20-5 to tie them. Ten-game deficits are a lulu.

Dodgers 6, Pirates 4: Dana Eveland was impressive, allowing only one run on six hits in eight innings. Which is great for me because I have an excuse to trot out the observation I make any time I have occasion to talk about Dana Eveland: If you didn’t know he was a pitcher and you simply heard the name, you’d think that “Dana Eveland” was an actress from the 1940s who used to play second banana in musicals and light comedies. She was under contract with Warner Brothers but was loaned out to MGM on occasion.  Try it: list off a leading man and a leading woman of that era and then say “and also starring Dana Eveland!”  It totally works.

Athletics 7, Indians 0: Gio Gonzalez and Craig Breslow combined to shut out the Indians. Of course, as is usually the case, it wasn’t an equal combination, what with Gonzalez pitching seven innings and Breslow two.  Games like these are a lot like when Hunter and Dee Dee used to take down some crime boss. Hunter would shoot 16 dudes, take a bullet in the arm and still find time to crack wise. Meanwhile, Dee Dee would — especially if it was sweeps week — be posing as a stripper or a prostitute or something and would maybe — maybe — hit one of the bad guys over the head with a pitcher of beer or her purse or something.  At the end, Captain Devane would still say “great job, you two” as if it were somehow a matter of equal effort.  What? don’t look at me that way.  I never said that 1980s action/adventure shows were enlightened. But I grew up on ’em, OK? They’re part of my cultural DNA.

Royals 11, Tigers 8: The first line of the AP recap says it all about this ugly-ass game:

Danny Duffy overthrew his catcher on an intentional walk, and Alcides Escobar struck out on a pitch that hit him in the shoulder.

Jeff Francoeur was 3 for 5 with a homer, a double and three driven in. His assessment of the game: “You saw a lot of stuff.”

Blue Jays 8, Orioles 6: Brett Lawrie broke a tie with a two-run homer in the top of the eighth.  Kid is a total boss.

Phillies 6, Reds 4: Vance Worley does nothin’ but win baseball games. Ryan Howard hit a home run — his 30th — giving him the 30 home run, 100 RBI combination that so many of you are impressed with.

Mets 7, Marlins 5: Miguel Batista makes his Mets debut and its a good one: 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER.

Braves 5, Nationals 2: Brian McCann and Chipper Jones homered to kick things off and Tim Hudson carried things through. The Nats actually scored a run off Jonny Venters. You don’t see that happen very often.

Yankees 4, Red Sox 2: A.J. Burnett didn’t win, but he kept his team in the game, and that’s something he hadn’t done for a long time. Things got scary in the ninth as the Sox loaded the bases and Adrian Gonzalez came to the plate. But dude, Mariano Rivera.  Also: 4:21. Four a nine-inning game with six total runs scored. My lord.

Rangers 7, Rays 2: Two solo homers for Ian Kinsler and a nice outing for C.J. Wilson, who was perfect through five innings but injured his index finger when he reached for a grounder with his pitching hand. He stayed in for a while, but it was buggin’ him too much.

Angels 4, Mariners 3: Ervin Santana walked seven, but you can get away with that against teams like the Mariners.

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.

Mets unhappy with Dodgers’ request to make outfield markings to position fielders

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 28:  The 1986 New York Mets are honored before the game between the New York Mets and the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citi Field on May 28, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.The New York Mets are honoring the 30th anniversary of the 1986 championship season.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Mets have asked MLB for clarification on the Dodgers’ use of a laser rangefinder for defensive positioning over this weekend’s series at Citi Field. The Dodgers notified the Mets’ ground crew that they wanted to mark certain positions in the outfield grass after determining positions with the rangefinder. The grounds crew said they could leave two marks in center field and one in left field.

However, the grounds crew then went to their superiors and told them that the Dodgers threatened to dig holes in the outfield grass with their cleats, so the grounds crew was then instructed to “erase or obliterate” any of the Dodgers’ markings.

According to Rosenthal, Major League Baseball reinforced a few weeks ago that teams aren’t allowed to use markers to aid defensive positioning. The Dodgers haven’t been accused of doing anything nefarious during a game. Howie Kendrick was seen pulling something out of his pocket in the outfield, but Brett Anderson clarified on Twitter that it was just a piece of paper with notes for defensive positioning.

The series between the Mets and Dodgers has been heated, as Noah Syndergaard was ejected for throwing at Chase Utley on Saturday. Utley then responded by hitting two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. The Mets may have a legitimate concern, or it may just be gamesmanship.