Boston Red Sox v Tampa Bay Rays

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 9, Red Sox 1: Attention Red Sox Nation: set sphincters to Defcon 1.  The Rays sweep and they are now three and a half out in the wild card. And these two play each other four more times. B.J. Upton was 4 for 4 with a grand slam.

Cardinals 6, Braves 3: Attention Braves, er, whatever it is they have: set sphincters to Defcon 2.  The Cardinals sweep and are now four and a half back of Atlanta in the wild card, though these two don’t play head-to-head again. The Cardinals have a three-game series at Philadelphia this weekend, but other than that the schedule is all tomato cans. I suppose the same can be said for Atlanta — a series with the Phillies and then some losing teams — but the Braves face a better brand of tomato can, including a Washington team that gives the Braves fits.  This is all suddenly interesting/terrifying.

Rockies 4, Reds 1: Rookie Drew Pomeranz threw five shutout innings in his major league debut. I’m guessing the Indians could have used a performance or two like that from a pitcher some time since late July. Pity.

Rangers 8, Athletics 1: C.J. Wilson struck out 11 in eight shutout innings and Adrian Beltre hit two homers. This technically eliminated the A’s. So those of you who pre-ordered A’s playoff tickets, well, sorry.

Yankees 6, Angels 5: The Yankees snapped a four-game losing streak. Probably shoulda been five given that you’re never going to make a lot of money betting on stuff like “Peter Bourjos drops an easy fly ball, allowing two runs to score.”

Royals 2, Mariners 1: Everett Teaford, who despite the name is not a late-19th century British explorer, pitched five shutout innings for the Royals. And then, as the leader of the Teaford Expedition, he became the first white man to scale Mt. SomethingOrOther in the godless lands of darkest Africa, all of which he claimed in the name of Queen Victoria. Then he steamed home on a Dreadnaught class battleship or something and wrote he experiences up in an adventure novel for schoolboys.

Brewers 3, Phillies 2: He’s cut! The Russian is cut! Oh, well, not really. It’s just that shocking to see the Phillies lose one. The Brewers strung together three hits to rally in the seventh and hand Vance Worley his second loss of the year.

Marlins 4, Pirates 1: Six scoreless for Javier Vazquez, who has been great in the garbage time portion of the season. He’s 4-2 with a 1.95 ERA in his last nine starts.

Indians 7, White Sox 3: I guess that was an unfair swipe at the Ubaldo Jimenez trade up there in the Reds/Rockies recap, because Jimenez himself pitched well yesterday, giving up two runs over six innings. Luis Valbuena was 3 for 5 with a homer. Which isn’t exactly something he does a lot of.

Nationals 8, Astros 2: He only went three innings — this is really a shakedown cruise following his time in dry dock — but Stephen Strasburg was effective, striking out four in those three innings and allowing a run. I’m fine with the short outing, by the way. It’s not like he’s drawing butts to the seats like some suspected he might, so it’s not like anyone should feel obligated to give the hometown fans five or six innings of the kid.  Let him pitch a bit, get him out before he has any stressful situations and build optimism over the offseason.

Blue Jays 6, Orioles 5: Adam Loewen shows his former team that, as a pitcher, he makes a pretty good hitter. The Blue Jays’ conversion job hit the game-tying homer and then Jose Bautista broke the tie with a sac fly.  The Orioles are absolutely atrocious in Toronto. Well, they’re atrocious everywhere, but really, really atrocious in Toronto, having dropped 29 of the past 34 games they’ve played north of the border.

Padres 7, Diamondbacks 6: The Padres hand the Diamondbacks their first home loss in 15 games. Two RBIs a piece for Nick Hundley, Jesus Guzman and James Darnell. Not sure I’ve thought about Nick Hundley since I saw a Padres-Royals spring training game back in March. Man, that seems like it was 15 years ago. The season, she is long.

Giants 8, Dodgers 1: Madison Bumgarner struck out eight and allowed three hits in five innings, helping the Giants avoid the sweep.

Tigers 2, Twins 1: Nine in a row for Detroit behind seven scoreless innings for Doug Fister. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just called: the Tiger’s application for exclusive rights to the name “most dangerous playoff team” has officially been accepted. Anyone else who looks hot heading into October must call themselves “the team no one else wants to play.” Anything beyond that and they’re probably gonna get sued.

Cubs 10, Mets 6: A six-run 11th dooms the Mets on the night tribute was paid to those who lost their lives on 9/11. Sort of puts six-run 11th innings in perspective.

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.