Joel Peralta

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

41 Comments

Rays 8, Red Sox 5: Tim Wakefield got a lot of love for his 200th win last week. But it didn’t change the fact that Tim Wakefield doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot left. Now only two games separate these two in the wild card race. And the Rays-love has gotten so crazy that I almost feel like going full-bore contrarian here and may start rooting for the Red Sox. Ah, maybe not. But the desire of the non-Boston people to see the Rays pull this off has gotten near-comical.

Blue Jays 3, Yankees 0: Adam Lind homered twice and Brandon Morrow shut the Yankees the hell down, allowing four hits in eight shutout innings, striking out eight.  To be fair, the Yankees sent out a lineup that you couldn’t pick out of a lineup. Maybe they knew the Red Sox would lose and that it didn’t matter?

Mets 7, Braves 5: Four driven in for Ruben Tejada as the Mets take two of three from the Braves. Johnny Venters walked three and gave up two hits, including a homer, in one inning of work. For those who care, the Braves had exactly two things going for them in their march to the playoffs: strong starting pitching and a shutdown pen. The first one went by the wayside with injures several weeks ago. Now the second one has questions too. R.I.P. Braves season. Whether it ends with the wild card or not, this is a dead team walking.

Giants 12, Rockies 5: And don’t look now, but the Giants are on a freaking roll.  Eight straight wins, this on the back of two Pablo Sandoval homers. Too little too late? I suspect so. And in some ways I hope so. Not because what’s good for them is bad for my team, but because I’m pretty sure there won’t be anything more insufferable on the planet than Giants fans playing the “no one believed in us” card if they make the playoffs. And they’ll be right. And they themselves were included in that as recently as a week ago, though I suppose that part will be conveniently forgotten.

Cardinals 5, Phillies 0: Two homers for Allen Craig and a homer for Albert Pujols. One freakin’ time all year I root for the Phillies and they drop two of the first three. Gee, thanks guys.

Nationals 4, Marlins 3: I think Jack McKeon and Davey Johnson arranged the Hand vs. Wang matchup just to see how many baseball writers would go crazy with the headlines. But not me. I’m above that. At least I am after Wang won the game.  If, however, Hand had handled Wang, I couldn’t have been held responsible for the sheer amount of juvenilia that would have emanated from my keyboard. Oh, and Hand has lost successive games to Wang and Dickey. Just so you know.

White Sox 10, Royals 5: A.J. Pierzynski hit two homers. I’m sure he did it in the nastinest way possible.

Indians 6, Twins 5: The Tribe scored six in the seventh, thanks in part to two fabulous things: a Shelley Duncan homer and a Jim Thome infield single. Jason Repko was beaned by a Justin Masterson sinker that didn’t sink and had to be taken to the hospital, so that sort of took the fun out of it all.

Brewers 8, Reds 1: Milwaukee sweeps the Reds behind homers from Prince Fielder, Carlos Gomez and Corey Hart and a nice outing from Zack Greinke. Cincinnati had only two hits for the second day in a row. Smells like they’re mailing in the last two weeks. Milwaukee will probably be the next team to clinch a playoff spot.

Diamondbacks 5, Padres 1:  Or maybe the Dbacks will be. For, yes, San Francisco is charging, but Arizona’s magic number is five, and that’s a pretty sure bet. Joe Saunders pitched splendidly. Paul Goldschmidt drove in three.

Angels 11, Orioles 2: Baltimore has been a pesky little spolier in the past week or so, but not yesterday. Erik Aybar went 4 for 4 with two homers and a walk and scored five times. The five runs ties a 13-year-old team record held by Tim Salmon. Jered Weaver pitched well on three-days’ rest, winning his 18th.

Rangers 3, Mariners 0: But no ground was gained by the Angels because the Rangers beat King Felix. Four Rangers pitchers combine to blank the M’s.

Dodgers 15, Pirates 1: Half a dozen NFL teams didn’t score 15 yesterday so, hey, nice goin’ L.A. Four a piece driven in by Jerry Sands and Juan Rivera.

Tigers 3, Athletics 0: Justin Verlander wins his 24th. Which seems like an MVP-type number in ways that 23 isn’t. No, I’m not changing my mind. I still don’t think Verlander should be the MVP. But I bet a lot of voters who were on the fence will be pushed there because of his 24th win. All of that said: Verlander’s wins seem a hell of a lot more solid than most guy’s gaudy win totals in recent history. This was a three-hitter over eight shutout innings. The vast majority of his wins have come with authority this season.

Astros 3, Cubs 2: A Carlos Pena would-be homer was called a double on replay — pretty correctly, I’ll add — but that didn’t stop Mike Quade from arguing it and getting himself ejected. Anyone else think that the Mike Quade administration is just about over?  Yeah, me too.

Don Mattingly thinks pace of play can be improved by changing views on strikeouts

Miami Marlins manager Don Mattingly sits in the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in Los Angeles, Monday, April 25, 2016. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo
3 Comments

Marlins manager Don Mattingly has one potential solution to the pace of play issue: change the way people value strikeouts, the Associated Press reports.

Strikeouts have been rising steadily since 2005. Then, a typical game averaged 6.30 strikeouts. In 2016, there were 8.03 strikeouts per game. There are many explanations for this phenomenon. For one, teams are searching specifically for young pitchers who can throw hard — like triple-digits hard. They figure they can teach them the other pertinent skills in the minors. Second, Sabermetrics has shown that a strikeout is only marginally worse than an out made on a ball put in play. Sometimes, the strikeout is preferable, especially if there’s a runner on first base with less than two outs and a weak hitter at the plate. Sabermetrics has also shown home runs to be the best and most efficient way to contribute on offense. Furthermore, younger players tend to focus more on power in order to get noticed by scouts. Unless it’s paired with other elite skills, a scout isn’t going to remember a player who hit the ball into the hole on the right side, but he will remember the kid who blasted a 450-foot homer.

Here’s what Mattingly had to say:

Analytically, a few years back nobody cared about the strikeout, so it’s OK to strike out 150, 160, 170 times, and that guy’s still valued in a big way. Well, as soon as we start causing that to be a bad value — the strikeouts — guys will put the ball in play more. So once we say strikeouts are bad and it’s going to cost you money the more you strike out, then the strikeouts will go away. Guys will start making adjustments and putting the ball in play more.

[…]

If our game values [say that] strikeouts don’t matter, they are going to keep striking out, hitting homers, trying to hit home runs and striking out.

Simply believing strikeouts are bad won’t magically change its value. However, creating social pressure regarding striking out can change it. Theoretically, anyway. Creating that social pressure is easier said than done.

There is a dichotomy here as well. Home runs are exciting. Strikeouts and walks are not. Often, though, the three go hand-in-hand-in-hand. A player actively trying to cut down on his strikeouts by putting the ball in play will also likely cut down on his strikeout and walk rates. There doesn’t seem to be an elegant solution here. Wishing for fewer strikeouts, walks, and homers doesn’t really seem to give way to a more exciting game.

Sean Doolittle: “Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans.”

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 25:  Sean Doolittle #62 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on June 25, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
30 Comments

In the past, we’ve commented on Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle and his girlfriend Eireann Dolan’s community service. In 2015, the pair hosted Syrian refugee families for Thanksgiving and their other charitable efforts have included LGBTQ outreach and help for veterans.

Athletes and their significant others have typically avoided stepping into political waters, but Doolittle and Dolan have shown that it’s clearly no concern to them. In the time since, the Syrian refugee issue has become even more of a hot-button issue and Doolittle recently discussed it with Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times.

I think America is the best country in the world because we’ve been able to attract the best and brightest people from all over the world. We have the smartest doctors and scientists, the most creative and innovative thinkers. A travel ban like this puts that in serious jeopardy.

I’ve always thought that all boats rise with the tide. Refugees aren’t stealing a slice of the pie from Americans. But if we include them, we can make the pie that much bigger, thus ensuring more opportunities for everyone.

Doolittle, of course, is referring to Executive Order 13769 signed by President Trump which sought to limit incoming travel to the United States from seven countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. A temporary restraining order on the executive order was placed on February 3, a result of State of Washington v. Trump.

Doolittle spoke more about the plight refugees face:

These are people fleeing civil wars, violence and oppression that we can’t even begin to relate to. I think people think refugees just kind of decide to come over. They might not realize it takes 18-24 months while they wait in a refugee camp. They go through more than 20 background checks and meetings with immigration officers. They are being vetted.

They come here, and they want to contribute to society. They’re so grateful to be out of a war zone or whatever they were running from in their country that they get jobs, their kids go to our schools, they’re paying taxes, and in a lot of cases, they join our military.

Around this time last year, Craig wrote about Doolittle and Dolan not sticking to baseball. They’re still not, nor should they be. Hopefully, the duo’s outspokenness inspires other players and their loved ones to speak up for what’s right.

[Hat tip: Deadspin’s Hannah Keyser]