New York Mets v St. Louis Cardinals

And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 6, Mets 5: And now St. Louis is a mere one and a half back. With games against the Mets, Cubs and Astros left. And when guys like David Freese drive in five runs, you’re entering team of destiny territory.

Marlins 4, Braves 0: Javy Vazquez is going to retire, he implies. If so, he’s going out in style. Stifling the Braves and helping them on their way to a near-historic collapse. That’s one he’ll always remember. Two hits for Atlanta. Two. Old Gator sent me an email late last night with pictures of anti-nausea medication and Advil. Please, Gator, next time just send some cyanide.

Orioles 6, Red Sox 4: Just another stunning loss for the Red Sox. Terry Francona after the game: ” “I’m not in a very good mood right now.”  Well, he shouldn’t be.  But at least this will cheer him up …

Yankees 4, Rays 2; Yankees 4, Rays 2: A game so nice they played it twice. Except the second game was way different, with Jorge Posada playing hero with a two-run tie-breaking single in the eighth. The first game clinched a playoff spot for New York, the second the AL East title. The Red Sox catch the hell for their collapse, but the Rays have simply failed to capitalize on it as best they can. As a result, there is now another team who might …

Angels 7, Blue Jays 2: Look who is also two and a half games back of Boston. Peter Bourjos had three hits including a homer and a triple. Vernon Wells hit a homer. Dan Haren had to leave when he was hit by a comebacker, but it was off his non-pitching hand and he should be good to go.

Diamondbacks 8, Pirates 5: Win number 90 for Arizona as they creep one more game closer to the NL West title. Miguel Montero was 3 for 4.

Giants 8, Dodgers 5: Not that the Giants are making it too easy. They aren’t going to catch Arizona, but they keep winning anyway. They’re 3. 5 back of Atlanta.

Cubs 7, Brewers 1: Matt Garza pitched a complete game, struck out 10 and didn’t allow any earned runs. It’s taking the Brewers longer than they thought to clinch this thing, but given that the magic number is at three, I don’t think there’s any reason to sweat here.

Nationals 7, Phillies 5: Five straight losses for the Phillies. Danny Espinosa and Wilson Ramos each hit two-run home runs. The Nats could theoretically still finish at .500. Much easier when you figure that they have three games against the Braves coming up.

Padres 4, Rockies 0: Colorado is limping to the finish line, losers of seven straight at home. Remember last spring when everyone thought that they were an attractive choice to win the west? Yeah, that was a long time ago.

Reds 2, Astros 0: Bronson Arroyo was one of the worst regular starters in all of baseball this season, but he looked pretty spiffy here. A six-hit shutout in which he only needed 91 pitches. Way to make him work, Astros.

Rangers 3, Athletics 2: Fun with round numbers: Ian Kinsler is the first second baseman in AL history to have 30 home runs, 30 doubles, 100 runs scored and 80 walks in the same season. Lou Whitaker probably would have done it once, but The Man wouldn’t let him. Texas’ magic number is three.

Mariners 5, Twins 4: Eleven straight losses for the Twins. For reasons that aren’t clear to me, I’m going to Cleveland tomorrow evening to watch them play the Indians. They may be the worst team I’ve intentionally watched live ever.

Tigers 6, Royals 3: Max Scherzer and Doug Fister each pitched so that Jim Leyland could arrange his rotation for the playoffs. I remember when my team thought about stuff like the playoffs. Sigh.

White Sox 8, Indians 4: Career win number 160 for Mark Buehrle. The White Sox draw dangerously close to passing Cleveland for second place! Which one day will sound way more impressive than it actually is.

Twins pitcher barfs before almost every appearance

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 18:  Ryan O'Rourke #61 of the Minnesota Twins reacts after loading up the bases in the seventh inning against the New York Yankees on August 18, 2015 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Twins righty Ryan O'Rourke has pitched in 54 big league games. He has barfed before almost every one of them.

No, really:

Through his first 54 big-league outings over the last past two years, O’Rourke estimates he emptied the contents of his stomach close to every time.

“I don’t do it in the public’s eye,” O’Rourke said Tuesday. “I go in the bathroom, or sometimes it’s just on the back of the mound. But, yeah, it happens.”

I wonder if I’ve barfed 54 times in my entire life. I doubt I have. Then again, I’m not doing anything in front of tens of thousands of people with potentially millions of dollars at stake.

Yet he who is without sin hurl the first, um. Well, never mind.

The new intentional walk rule isn’t a big deal but it’s still dumb

PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 06:  Anthony Recker #20 of the New York Mets calls for an intentional walk as Paul Goldschmidt #44 of the Arizona Diamondbacks looks on during the eighth inning at Chase Field on June 6, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)
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Let us preface this by stipulating that the new rule in which pitchers will no longer have to throw four balls to issue an intentional walk is not a big deal, objectively speaking. Teams don’t issue many IBBs to begin with. A couple a week, maybe? Fewer? Moreover, the times when a pitcher tosses one to the backstop or a batter reaches out and smacks a would-be intentional ball may be a lot of fun, but they’re extraordinarily rare. You can go years without seeing it happen.

So, yes, the intentional walk rule announced yesterday is of negligible consequence. We’ll get used to it quickly and it will have little if any impact on actual baseball. It won’t do what it’s supposed to do — speeding up games — but it won’t harm anything that is important either.

But let us also stipulate that the new rule is dumb.

It’s dumb because it’s a solution in search of a problem. Pace of play is a concern, but to listen to Rob Manfred and his surrogates in the media tell it, it’s The Most Pressing Issue of Our Time. Actually, it’s not. No one is abandoning baseball because of 5-15 minutes here or there and no one who may be interested in it is ceasing their exploration of the game because of it. And even if they were, IBBs are rare and they’re not time-consuming to begin with, so it’s not something that will make a big difference. It’s change for change’s sake and so Rob Manfred can get some good press for looking like a Man of Action.

It’s also dumb because it’s taking something away, however small it is. One of my NBC coworkers explained it well this morning:

I agree. Shamelessness is a pretty big problem these days, so let’s not eliminate shame when it is truly due.

Picture it: it’s a steamy Tuesday evening in late July. The teams are both way below .500 and are probably selling off half of their lineup next week. There are, charitably, 8,000 people in the stands. The game is already dragging because of ineptitude and an understandable lack of urgency on the part of players who did not imagine nights like this when they were working their way to the bigs.

Just then, one of the managers — an inexperienced young man who refuses to deviate from baseball orthodoxy because, gosh, he might get a hard question from a sleepy middle aged reporter after the game — holds up four fingers for the IBB. The night may be dreary, but dammit, he’s going to La Russa the living hell out of this game.

That man should be booed. Boo this man. The drunks and college kids who paid, like, $11 to a season ticket holder on StubHub to get into this godforsaken game have earned the right to take their frustrations out on Hunter McRetiredBackupCatcher for being a wuss and calling for the IBB. It may be the only good thing that happens to them that night, and now Rob Manfred would take that away from them. FOR SHAME.

And don’t forget about us saps at home, watching this garbage fire of a game because it beats reading. We’re now going to have to listen to this exchange, as we have listened to it EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since the 2017 season began:

Play-by-Play Guy: “Ah, here we go. They’re calling for the intentional walk. Now, in case you missed it, this is the way we’re doing it now. The new rule is that the manager — yep, right there, he’s doing it — can hold up four fingers to the home plate umpire and — there it goes — he points to first base and the batter takes his base.”

Color Commentator, Who played from 1975-87, often wearing a mustache: “Don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. There was always a chance the pitcher throws a wild pitch. It happened to us against the Mariners in 1979 [Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice: it didn’t] and it has taken away something special from the game. I suppose some number-cruncher with a spreadsheet decided that this will help speed up the game, but you know what that’s worth.

No matter what good or bad the rule brings, this exchange, which will occur from April through September, will be absolutely brutal. Then, in October, we get to hear Joe Buck describe it as if we never heard it before because Fox likes to pretend that the season begins in October.

Folks, it’s not worth it. And that — as opposed to any actual pro/con of the new rule — is why it is dumb. Now get off my lawn.