Braun vs. the Collector: they could both be right, you know

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I was busy fighting crime yesterday afternoon when the sample collector from L’affaire Braun offered his statement. After that a bunch of people emailed me with some variation of “Ah-ha! Braun is a dirty stinkin’ lying cheater and the arbitrator was in the bag for him! Apologize now.”

OK, maybe the emails weren’t quite so extreme, but they were close. And they’re right about one thing: the statement of the collector does call for some response.  Here’s my response: Well, OK.

I say “well, OK,” because I’m not sure what else can be said. On the surface he seems to be offering a pretty sharp rebuke of Braun. And probably a not-underserved one. At the moment — and, as I’ll argue in a second, the moment matters — Braun’s statement the other day was a bit extreme for a guy who won a procedural victory, even if I still maintain that a procedural victory is significant.  He didn’t really need to point the finger so directly at the collector even if mistakes were made in the process.  It’s totally understandable that the guy felt the need to come back with a strong statement of his own.

As for the substance of the statement: look, there are a lot of things about all of this that seem like people calling each other liars, but it seems more like people talking past each other.

Braun’s people say there were a bunch of places open to receive the sample, the collector says that there weren’t any places that could ship the sample. Those things aren’t necessarily in conflict. The collector says that he followed the procedures set down by his employer, the arbitrator ruled that the procedures articulated in the Joint Drug Agreement weren’t followed. Those statements aren’t necessarily in conflict either. Indeed, the crux of it could very well be that the collector did everything he was told and trained to do by his employer but what he was told and trained to do didn’t conform to what the league and the players agreed upon when they set the system up.

Anyone who has worked in a large organization can relate to how that kind of thing happens. Mistakes and lack of adherence to formal protocols get baked into the process and become accepted procedures over time.  Which is fine when they’re just normal workplace rules, but which aren’t fine when they’re rules that were the product of sensitive, complicated and high stakes collective bargaining. If the union doesn’t object to that, they risk waiving what they fought so hard for in negotiations.

And it could be that those ad hoc procedures make sense.  Field experience trumping design, you know. Could very well be that the Joint Drug Agreement now gets amended to actually formalize the procedures that have been used, albeit in an unauthorized fashion, before now.  That doesn’t vindicate that unauthorized past use — rules are rules — but this could all be part of a healthy evolution of the testing system, with Braun’s specific example being but a footnote in the future.

The important thing at present, however, is that we won’t have ultimate resolution of the seeming discrepancies between Braun and the collector until we see the arbitrator’s decision. To see what, exactly, he took issue with in the procedures that were employed and why he found them significant.  Until then, anyone not privy to the decision who either (a) attacks the collector; or (b) belittles Braun’s procedural defense are just guessing.

And That Happened: Tuesday’s Scores and Highlights

Associated Press
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Here are the scores. Here are the highlights:

Red Sox 9, Indians 1: Doug Fister put forth a dogged performance last night, tossing a complete game one hitter, with his only mistake a leadoff solo homer surrendered to Francisco Lindor in the third pitch of the game. After that: nine full innings of no-hit ball which doesn’t technically count for anything special but which was pretty darn cool all the same. Eduardo Nunez drove in five behind him with a three-run homer and a two-run double. Jackie Bradley, Jr. doubled. Fister, however, was obviously the top dog here.

Yankees 13, Tigers 4: Since the Rays’ Logan Morrison said that Sanchez should not be in the Home Run Derby Sanchez has hit 12 dingers to Morrison’s five. Last night Sanchez homered twice. One of them went nearly 500 dang feet. I’d say he’s vindicating the choice pretty well. Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings in his first appearance since hitting the DL with shoulder inflammation. Nicholas Castellanos hit two homers in a losing cause for Detroit, including an inside-the-park homer with two outs in the ninth, giving the masochists sho hung around something to cheer for.

Cubs 13, Reds 9: A weird day for Chicago: Ben Zobrist was scratched from the starting lineup because he was late getting back from an offday in Nashville because he misplaced his rental car. There’s probably more to that story but let’s leave it go for now. Late in the game Kris Bryant suffered a minor injury which caused Joe Maddon to put Anthony Rizzo at third base for an inning because it was “fun.” Really:

“Looking at it, the only thing left was (catcher Alex) Avila at third, which is no fun, or Rizzo at third and Avila at first, which is fun, and that’s why we did it,” Maddon said.

Oh that wacky Joe Maddon.

As for the game, the Cubs were down 6-3 after five innings but rallied for ten runs in the final four to win it going away. Zobrist hit a double as a pinch hitter late. No word on whether he got lost on the way back to the team hotel.

Dodgers 8, Pirates 5: The Dodgers used six pitchers in the game without any of them going more than two innings. Their disabled list — the disabled list! — right now has a rotation of Clayton Kershaw, Andrew Wood, Scott Kazmir, Brandon McCarthy, Yu Darvish and Julio Urias. Doesn’t matter, though. Nothing seems to stop them. Here the offense propelled them. Chris Taylor had three hits and drove in three runs. Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer. In the sixth, Adrian Gonzalez got his 2,000th career hit and was promptly knocked in by Corey Seager to put the Dodgers up for good.

Marlins 12, Phillies 8; Marlins 7, Phillies 4: This doubleheader was a home run fest, as the teams combined for 14 bombs in the two games. Giancarlo Stanton hit his 46th homer and Ichiro — Ichiro? — hit a pinch-hit three-run bomb in the first game. Marcell Ozuna and J.T. Realmuto hit homers too. In the nightcap Ozuna went deep again and Christian Yelich joined him. Yelich likewise robbed the Phillies’ Nick Williams of a homer with a sweet grab over the fence.

Athletics 6, Orioles 4: Ryon Healy hit two homers and Jed Lowrie and Khris Davis joined him. Three of those homers came off of Ubaldo Jimenez, who has given up 29 this year. A’s starter Paul Blackburn was cruising with four shutout innings under his belt when he was hit on the wrist by a comebacker in the fifth and was forced to leave the game. X-rays came back negative, however, which is a positive.

Diamondbacks 7, Mets 4: J.D. Martinez hit a first inning three-run homer and Patrick Corbin allowed one run on four hits over eight innings. Reliever Matt Koch struggled in the ninth, allowing three runs, which set the stage for Fernando Rodney to get a cheap as hell save by tossing only two pitches.

Rays 6, Blue Jays 5: Chris Archer struck out ten in six innings and Lucas Duda and Corey Dickerson homered. This is, based on just my gut, having done the recaps, as opposed to looking at the actual schedule, the 135th time the Rays and Jays have played this season.

Braves 4, Mariners 0: Lucas Sims allowed three runs over six shutout innings and three relievers completed the blanking. Nick Markakis homered and singled in a run. The Braves also scored on a play that featured multiple rundowns:

I wish I could hear Skip Caray call that one.

Twins 4, White Sox 1Jorge Polanco homered for the third time in two days and Kyle Gibson turned in his best start of the season, allowing one run over seven while striking out eight. If the season ended today the Twins would be the AL’s second Wild Card team. Also if the season ended today, the World Series would take place in September, which would be hella weird.

Nationals 4, Astros 3: Howie Kendrick tripled in two and Matt Wieters hit a two-run homer as the Nats came back from an early 2-0 deficit. The Nats don’t play the Astros often, but they have beaten them in nine straight meetings dating back to 2012. It’s 13 of 14 if you count back to 2011. Houston was in the NL in 2011 and 2012, of course. They should still be there but I suppose that’s the topic of another rant.

Royals 3, Rockies 2: The Indians scored one run on only one hit in their loss to Boston. The Rockies scored two runs on two hits in their loss to Kansas City. Here Danny Duffy allowed only one hit, but it was a two-run homer to Nolan Arenado, which followed a walk. By then the Royals had scored three thanks to a passed ball, an infield single and an RBI double. After that four Royals relievers kept Colorado hitless for the final three frames.

Padres 12, Cardinals 4Yangervis Solarte drove in six runs thanks to a couple of RBI doubles — one which cleared the bases — and a two-run homer. Austin Hedges added a two-run homer and Matt Szczur singled in a couple as the Padres romped. They were getting a lot of bad mojo out of their system, too. Coming in to this game the Padres had scored only six runs over their previous four games combined and Solarte had only driven in six runs in the previous two weeks.

Angels 10, Rangers 1Albert Pujols hit his 610th career homer — a three-run shot — passing Sammy Sosa for 8th on all-time list, and for first on the all-time list for homers from a foreign-born player. He also doubled in a run. Ricky Nolasco only allowed one run but couldn’t make it five innings, so he didn’t get the win. Three Angels relievers shut Texas out over the final four and a third, however.

Brewers 4, Giants 3: Travis Shaw hit a two-out double in the seventh inning to bring the Brewers back from behind and give manager Craig Counsel his 200th win. The Giants are bad, folks.

Aaron Judge’s record strikeout streak ends at 37 games

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For the first time in a month and a half, Aaron Judge went an entire game without striking out, ending his record streak at 37 games. Judge had an RBI single and three walks in Tuesday night’s 13-4 victory over the Tigers.

Judge went 1-for-4 with a solo home run and zero strikeouts in a 9-4 loss to the Brewers on July 7. Between July 8 and August 20, Judge would strike out in all 37 games, breaking the record previously held by Adam Dunn, who struck out in the first 32 games of the 2012 season. If one counted streaks extending into multiple seasons, Dunn held the record at 36 games as he struck out in his final four games in 2011 as well.

After Tuesday’s performance, Judge is now hitting .284/.417/.594 with 37 home runs, 81 RBI, and 93 runs scored in 525 plate appearances on the season. He’s had a particularly rough second half, as he entered Tuesday with a .684 OPS since the All-Star break, a far cry from his 1.139 OPS before the break.