And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Mets 8, Cardinals 6:  Wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, the Mets saved the Braves’ bacon, at least for another day. The Cards had a 6-1 lead after seven, but the bullpen — obviously channeling April — blew it. Or La Russa blew it with the parade of relievers and intentional walks to load the bases and all of that kind of nonsense. Whatever the case, a six-run ninth against a Mets team that looked to be mailing in this getaway day game for the first several innings is inexcusable. If the Cards fall a game short of the wild card, this will the game they look at and wonder how in the frak they let it get away.

Rays 15, Yankees 8: The Rays shave a half game off Boston’s lead by pounding New York. Matt Moore: money. He struck out 11 in 5 innings in his first big league start. I have no idea if Tampa Bay will catch Boston, but I know that they’re gonna be good for a long time after this year.

Blue Jays 4, Angels 3: The Angels, alas, do not make up that half game. Walkoff shot for Edwin Encarnacion in the 12th. Check out the home run call. Pretty fantastic stuff.

Nationals 6, Phillies 1: Look: the 2010 Phillies were pretty dominant in September and they lost in the NLCS, so it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. But dudes, seriously. When something called a “Brad Peacock” shuts you down for nearly six innings you have to take a look in the mirror. A sweep by the Nats, who now look to kill the Braves’ season this weekend. Six straight south for the Phillies.

Orioles 6, Tigers 5: The O’s have won eight of ten. Yes, last year taught us not to draw too much from what happens after the meaningful baseball games end, but it’s been nice to see Baltimore play like they mean it these past couple of weeks.

Indians 11, White Sox 2: Asdrubal Cabrera drove in five. Tribe starter Jeanmar Gomez won his fifth straight since being recalled from Columbus. Speaking of guys going up to Cleveland from Columbus, I’ll be at the Indians-Twins game tonight, sitting in the Tribe Social Suite with other bloggery types. I mean look: when you can drive 130 miles to see the 2011 Minnesota Twins play, that’s just something you do.

Twins 3, Mariners 2: Oh, maybe I shouldn’t hate on the Twins too much. They’ll be heading in to Cleveland on a winning streak. A one-game winning streak after dropping 11 straight. Rene Tosoni hit an RBI double with two outs in the ninth to win it.  No, I have no idea who Rene Tosoni is. If you would have asked me before I read the box score I would have assumed that he was a composer. Light opera. Maybe got into some television scoring in the early 50s before he died.

Athletics 4, Rangers 3: Oakland avoids the sweep behind a bullet-dodging start from Trevor Cahill. Ten hits in six and two thirds, but the Rangers weren’t able to string ’em together well enough to do too much damage.

Dodgers 8, Giants 2: Matt Kemp: 4 for 5 with a two-run homer and three doubles. M-V-P! M-V-P!

Astros 9, Rockies 6: Four RBI for Carlos Lee, three for Matt Downs.  Alex White gave up five runs in four and two-thirds innings, hitting two batters and throwing two wild pitches. But hey, at least he’s not in Ohio.

The Nats are sniffing around for relief pitching help

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The Nationals began the year with Blake Treinen as their closer. That didn’t last long, and now Koda Glover seems to be Dusty Baker’s man in the ninth inning. He earned a save for the second consecutive game yesterday. Glover has been pretty darn good in the early going, posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out six batters and walking only one in seven and two-thirds. That obviously a small sample size, and anything can happen. If it does, Baker has Shawn Kelley as an option.

Not many household names there, which is probably why the Nationals are reported to be interested in the White Sox’ David Robertson and Alex Colome of the Rays. That report comes from Jim Bowden of ESPN, who also notes that the A’s have a number of guys with closing experience on staff and are likely to be sellers too. The David Robertson thing may have more legs, though, given that Mike Rizzo and Rick Hahn pulled off a pretty major trade in the offseason. If you know a guy well, you call that guy first, right?

As far as problems go this isn’t a huge one. The Nats sit at 13-5 and, as expected by most prognosticators, are in first place in the National League East. The Cubs had some questions in the pen this time last year too. They had the luxury of trying to figure it out before making a massive trade for a closer. The Nats do too, and likely will. But expect them to be a part of any trade rumor conversation for the next couple of months.

 

The big flaw in modern ballparks

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Travis Sawchik writes about the post-Camden Yards generation of ballparks over at FanGraphs. The ones everyone loves because they’re nice and clean and friendly and are full of amenities. And that’s true! They are nice! But they all have a huge flaw: unless you’re in expensive seats, you’re too far away from the action.

Sawchik uses cross sections of ballparks — available at Andrew Clem’s website — to show that fans sitting in the upper decks of ballparks are way higher and way farther back than they used to be at many old ballparks such as Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, Old Comiskey, Tiger Stadium and Ebbets Field.

A lot of this has to do with an admirable impulse: to eliminate the beams which obstructed the view of many seats in those old parks. If you want to move that upper deck closer to the field, you have to have the beams because one can only achieve so much via cantilever effect. But that’s not the only impulse and probably not the primary one. More expansive lower bowls — which feature more expensive tickets — push the upper deck back and up. As do the luxury suites and club level amenities in between the lower and upper decks. Exacerbating this is the fact that most newer parks are built on vast tracts of land with few architectural constraints. If you can sprawl, you will, which leaves the most affordable seats in the land of binoculars.

I don’t agree with everything Sawchik writes here. He spends a lot of time talking about how much better neighborhood parks like Wrigley Field are and how it’d be better if newer parks were built in neighborhoods. I agree, neighborhood parks are ideal, but the fact is, most places don’t have mass transit like Chicago does. In most cities you have to have a place for 40,000 people to park.

That’s a quibble, though. Mostly, it’s a good look at an important thing most folks overlook when they praise the new parks. Important because, if you don’t have an enjoyable experience at the ballpark, you’re not likely to come back. And if you’re not fortunate enough to be able to buy expensive tickets, you may not have a great experience at the ballpark.