Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon went 3-for-3 with a home run and four RBI in a 6-2 defeat of the Blue Jays on Saturday evening in Tampa Bay.
A few hours earlier, up north at Yankee Stadium, the Bronx Bombers put a 9-1 hurting on a Red Sox team that has now played 5-17 ball in September.
As noted by ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes, the 1962 Mets lost a whopping 120 games and still went 6-18 over the final month of the regular season.
The Rays are now just 1.5 games back in the American League Wild Card standings with four contests to play. It’s a race that will go down to the wire.
Your Saturday box scores:
Red Sox 1, Yankees 9
Blue Jays 2, Rays 6
Twins 2, Indians 8 (Game 1)
Braves 1, Nationals 4
Cubs 1, Cardinals 2
Mariners 3, Rangers 7
Phillies 1, Mets 2 (Game 1)
Orioles 6, Tigers 5
Twins 6, Indians 7 (Game 2)
Reds 3, Pirates 4
Royals 3, White Sox 6
Blue Jays 2, Rays 6
Marlins 4, Brewers 6
Phillies 3, Mets 6 (Game 2)
Rockies 4, Astros 2 (13 innings)
Athletics 1, Angels 4
Giants 2, Diamondbacks 15
Dodgers 0, Padres 3
Nationals’ star outfielder Bryce Harper had some words of advice for a local Little League team on Saturday, telling a crowd of young players and their parents that winning matters far more than any participation trophies they might receive for their efforts on the field.
“As much as they might tell you, ‘Oh, it’s okay, you guys lost…’ No, Johnny, no,” Harper explained. “No participation trophies, okay? First place only. Come on.”
The panic over participation trophy culture has swelled over the last few years as studies continue to suggest that children are happier when they’re praised for their accomplishments, rather than rewarded for simply trying their best. The general idea is that kids aren’t motivated to succeed when they know they’ll receive a ribbon or medal celebrating their efforts at the end of the day — regardless of whether they win or lose. (Granted, it stands to reason that every kid can feel the difference between winning a championship trophy and receiving a participation ribbon.) Some have taken the idea to an extreme, claiming that when a child receives too many accolades for mediocre or poor performances, it can warp the way they view the world by generating a sense of undeserved entitlement.
Harper kept his tone light during the Q&A session, however, drawing cheers and applause from the majority of parents and a few of the kids. The 2015 NL MVP has routinely taken his own advice over the years, earning Rookie of the Year honors, four All-Star nominations and a Silver Slugger award since he broke into the major leagues in 2012. Next on his list? A World Series championship.
MLB.com’s William Kosileski reports that Indians starter Danny Salazar is being moved to the bullpen and will be available as soon as Wednesday or Thursday. The Indians will go on a five-game road strip starting on June 2, and manager Terry Francona said that Salazar could get a start during that trip.
Salazar, 27, has struggled to a 5.50 ERA over his first 10 starts this season. While none of those starts were absolute disasters, he failed to finish the sixth inning in seven of those 10 starts. It’s a far cry from his performance over the last two seasons, when he finished with a 3.45 ERA and 3.87 ERA.
Salazar’s walk rate is up to a career-high 11.9 percent, per FanGraphs, and he’s allowing many more line drives at the expense of ground balls. Compared to 2016, his line drive rate is up 8.9 percent and his ground ball rate is down 10.4 percent. All of that could explain Salazar’s struggles to some extent.