Boston Red Sox v Detroit Tigers

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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There were only 14 games yesterday. On a Sunday. Because the A’s and Mariners didn’t play thanks to the Japan Series. Look, I don’t care if you want to start the season in Japan, but there should be a federal law against anything less than a full slate of games on a Sunday.  Anyway:

Tigers 13, Red Sox 12: How about the back end of that Red Sox bullpen? Alfredo Aceves blew a 10-7 lead in the ninth thanks to a Miguel Cabrera three-run homer and Mark Melancon blew a two-run lead in the eleventh thanks to a walkoff job by Alex Avila. Anyone want to see Vicente Padilla closing? He threw 50 m.p.h. heat to Prince Fielder and lived to tell the tale. Anyway, so far Miguel Cabrera has begun the season 5 for his first 11 with three homers and eight RBI. Both Fielder and Avila are 5 for 12 with two bombs. Mercy.

Pirates 5, Phillies 4: That’s two walkoff wins in a row for Pittsburgh, this one courtesy of Andrew McCutchen. Phillies starters gave up only two runs in twenty innings this series, yet they dropped two of the three games.

Rays 3, Yankees 0: Jeremy Hellickson allowed three hits while shutting out the Yankees for eight and two-thirds. He just couldn’t get the shutout, however, as he walked Nick Swisher, pushing his pitch count up to 118. Four Fernando Rodney pitches later and it was over. The Rays sweep the Yankees. This never would have happened if The Boss were still alive!  Oh, wait, it very well might have.

Orioles 3, Twins 1: Jason Hammel took a no-hitter into the eighth inning and the Twins mustered just two hits in the whole ballgame.  The Twins scored just five runs in the entire series. Against Baltimore. The Baltimore Orioles.

Mets 7, Braves 5: Jon Niese took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggests (the Mets had a 7-0 lead until that seventh inning). The Braves scored seven runs on fourteen hits in three games.

Indians 4, Blues Jays 3: Carlos Santana hit two home runs. It was also his birthday so, hey, free dessert at Applebee’s too. According to the AP recap, Santana is 10 for 17 with five homers and 13 RBIs on his last four birthdays.

Cubs 4, Nationals 3: Man, I’ve gone several years now without having any compelling reason to learn how to spell Jeff Samardzija’s name, but now it looks like I gotta. Samardzija nearly went the distance — and had what should have been the last out except Starlin Castro committed an error — before giving up a homer to Adam LaRoche.  Still, eight and two-thirds innings, allowing only one earned run on four hits while striking out eight is not bad. Not bad at all.

Cardinals 9, Brewers 3: Lance Lynn wasn’t even supposed to be here today, man. Indeed, but for the Chris Carpenter injury, Lynn would be working from the pen. But he did just swell starting, giving up one run in six and two-thirds while punching out eight. The Cards take two of three from the Brew Crew. Corey Hart went yard for the third time in two days. Which is kind of nuts considering the dude had surgery and was on crutches about a month ago.

Padres 8, Dodgers 4: Clayton Richard gave up two runs on two hits but neither of the runs were earned. Chase Heddy — wait, that’s Headley — had a grand slam.

Diamondbacks 7, Giants 6: San Francisco had a 6-0 lead after they finished batting in the fourth, but Matt Cain and Jeremy Affeldt couldn’t hold the Dbacks down.

Royals 7, Angels 3: Eric Hosmer and Billy Butler homered and drove in three runs apiece as the Royals take two of three from Anaheim. Albert Pujols went two for three with a double and his first RBI as a Halo.

Astros 3, Rockies 2:  Juan Nicasio put forth a fine effort (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) in his first regular season action since taking that nasty comebacker last year. It didn’t hold up, however, as the Rockies’ defense failed on a ball back to the mound in the eighth, allowing Houston to score the tying run while extending the inning for the go-ahead single by Brian Bogusevic. Pfun Pfact: This is the first time the Astros have been over .500 since July 29, 2009. They shouldn’t get used to it, but good for them.

Rangers 5, White Sox 0: Matt Harrison and three relievers combine for the shutout. Homers from Murphy, Beltre and Hamilton. And yeah, I watched “Mad Men” instead of the last few innings of this game. I’m still in spring training form I guess. Anyway: WTF with Don’s fever dream? Crazy!

Reds 6, Marlins 5: Heath Bell couldn’t hold a one-run lead, giving up a homer to Jay Bruce and then a hot-shot infield single by Scott Rolen.  Ozzie Guillen has now gone two whole days without expressing his admiration and affection for brutal socialist dictators.

Jake Arrieta almost quit baseball

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 29: Jake Arrieta #49 of the Chicago Cubs scratches his beard as he walks back to the dugout at the end of sixth inning after giving up a three run home run to Gregory Polanco #25 of the Pittsburgh Pirates (not pictured) at Wrigley Field on August 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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Cubs starter Jake Arrieta, the defending National League Cy Young Award winner and author of two no-hitters, considered quitting baseball a few years ago when he was bounced up and down between the major leagues and the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate in Norfolk, Virginia.

At the time, Arrieta was having trouble living up to his potential as one of the Orioles’ top pitching prospects. He started on Opening Day in 2012, but finished the season with a 6.20 ERA and was very quickly moved back to Norfolk after four mediocre starts to begin the 2013 season.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Arrieta was considering quitting baseball so that his family could have a regular life.

We were at a point where I had other things that I could segue into and establish a career elsewhere. Not that I wanted that to happen, but I didn’t want to continue to go through the things we were going through and moving from place to place in the minor leagues at 25, 26 years old.

Baseball is something that I’ve loved to do since I was a little kid, but it’s not everything. I had to reevaluate some things. I knew I could always pitch this way, but there were times where it seemed like maybe I wasn’t going to get to that point.

It’s just part of life that we had to deal with.

Mooney also points out that Arrieta had a business background having gone to Texas Christian University and would have done something in that field if he had hung up the spikes.

This has been brought up because Arrieta’s teammate Tommy La Stella considered quitting baseball as well recently, as the Cubs demoted him to Triple-A. Though La Stella received a lot of criticism, Arrieta can relate to La Stella. The right-hander said, “I know that there were things that he was going through and dealing with (that) we may not agree with and understand.”

The National Anthem: an unwavering sports tradition . . . since the 1940s

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Associated Press
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There’s an interesting article over that the New York Times in the wake of the Colin Kaepernick stuff. This one is about the history of the National Anthem at sporting events.

The anthem is a fixture for as long as those of us reading this blog have been attending games and it’d be weird if it wasn’t there. But it hasn’t always been there, the Times notes. Indeed, it was not a regular fixture until 1942 when it was added for the obvious reason that we were at war. The other major sports leagues all adopted the anthem soon after. The NBA at the inception of the league in 1946 and the NHL in the same year. The NFL’s spokesman doesn’t mention a year, but notes that it’s a non-negotiable part of the game experience. The non-negotiability of it is underscored by the comment from the MLS spokesman who notes that they felt that they had no choice but to play the anthem when that league began play in the 1990s.

I like the anthem at ballgames. It just seems like part of the experience. I like it for its own sake, at least if the performance isn’t too over the top, and I like it because it serves as a nice demarcation between all of the pregame b.s. and the actual game starting.

But this article reminds us that there is no immutable structural reason for the anthem at games. Other countries don’t play their own anthems at their sporting events. We don’t play it before movies or plays or other non-sports performances. It’s a thing that we do which, however much of a tradition it has become, is somewhat odd when you think about it for a moment. And which has to seem pretty rote to the actual ballplayers who hear it maybe 180 times a year.