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.

Settling the Scores: Memorial Day edition

ARLINGTON, VA - MAY 21:  American flags are shown after being placed by members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in preparation for Memorial Day May 21, 2015 in Arlington, Virginia. "Flags-In" has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
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Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died in military service. At some point in the past couple of decades, however, it has become an all-purpose flag-waving, patriotism-declaring, civilians-in-camouflage holiday. It’s understandable why this is the case. We, as a country, haven’t always done mourning well. I think it’s part of our national cultural DNA that we don’t and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does make days like this difficult.

I feel like the flag-waving and troop-supporting stuff is some sort of subconscious reaction to death. It’s our way of instantly trying to justify those deaths or to explain how they were not in vain, much the same way we might tell someone upon the death of a loved one that they’re in a better place or that they had a full life. Feeling the pain of loss is hard. We want to soften it in any way we can and make our pain serve a larger, better purpose. And so we get today, when Major League Baseball puts its players in camouflage caps and in jerseys with camouflage logos. They’ll sell them too, with proceeds going to good and noble veterans charities. The intent is noble and the ultimate effect of it all is beneficial. But it’s also a little beside the point. Maybe not beside the point as much as mattress sales or big celebratory barbecues which have come to characterize Memorial Day for so many, but still not exactly the purpose of the holiday.

I don’t condemn it. As I wrote last year, the men and women who actually fought and died in wars were hoping that they were, ultimately, making a better and happier world for those they left behind. And they no doubt hoped, among everything else they hoped, that others didn’t have to face what they were facing. They wanted our lives to be happy and our country to be safe and part of a happy and safe country involves 300 million people doing whatever it is they damn please, even if it’s just having barbecues and wearing camo at the ballpark.

I won’t say have a happy Memorial Day because that seems odd. Have any kind of Memorial Day you want, really, even if it includes barbecuing, drinking beer and wearing a cam ballcap. But as you do, please make sure you take some time to think about those who died in military service. And remember that they didn’t get to have as many days like the one you’re having as they were meant to have. And make at least some effort to offset your happy, patriotic or silly pursuits with some mourning and reflectiveness. It’s OK for that to stand on its own.

The scores:

Red Sox 5, Blue Jays 3
Orioles 6, Indians 4
Yankees 2, Rays 1
Nationals 10, Cardinals 2
Brewers 5, Reds 4
Royals 5, White Sox 4
Cubs 7, Phillies 2
Rangers 6, Pirates 2
Astros 8, Angels 6
Athletics 4, Tigers 2
Twins 5, Mariners 4
Giants 8, Rockies 3
Diamondbacks 6, Padres 3
Marlins 7, Braves 3
Dodgers 4, Mets 2

 

Should Dave Roberts have taken Clayton Kershaw out of Sunday’s game?

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers delivers a pitch in the first inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field on May 29, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will likely be second-guessed heavily during tomorrow’s news cycle. Starter Clayton Kershaw had pitched a terrific ballgame, as is his tendency, but with 114 pitches to his name, Roberts decided to pull him from the game in the eighth inning with two outs and a runner on first base.

Roberts opted not for closer Kenley Jansen, who hasn’t pitched since Wednesday, but for another lefty in Adam Liberatore. He was playing the numbers, with the left-handed-hitting Curtis Granderson coming up. Liberatore, much to Roberts’ chagrin, served up what turned out to be a game-tying triple to Granderson, hitting a rocket to right-center just out of the reach of a leaping Yasiel Puig.

Jansen has, for six years, been one of the game’s elite relievers. Kershaw, though at a high pitch count, doesn’t seem to suffer from the times through the order penalty like most pitchers. Kershaw’s opponents’ OPS facing him for the first time was .525 coming into Sunday. Twice, .597. Three times, .587. Four times, .526 (but this suffers from survivorship bias so it’s not exactly representative).

Furthermore, Kershaw held lefties to a .546 OPS over his career. Liberatore, in 99 plate appearances against lefty hitters, gave up a .575 OPS. Jansen? .560. It seems that, faced with three decisions, Roberts arguably made the worst one. Playing conservative with Kershaw at 114 pitches is defensible, but only if Jansen comes in. If Roberts wanted the platoon advantage, Kershaw should have stayed in.

Luckily for the Dodgers, Mets closer Jeurys Familia didn’t have his best stuff. He loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth on a single and two walks, then gave up a two-run single to Adrian Gonzalez, giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead. Jansen came on in the bottom half of the ninth and retired the side in order to pick up his 15th save of the season.

Royals sweep White Sox over the weekend on three late rallies

KANSAS CITY, MO - MAY 28:  Brett Eibner #12 of the Kansas City Royals celebrates his game-winning RBI single with teammates in the ninth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Kauffman Stadium on May 28, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. The Royals won 8-7. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
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The Royals had themselves a pretty good weekend. The quickly fading White Sox, not so much.

On Friday, the Royals fell behind 5-1 after the top of the sixth. They would score once in the bottom of the sixth, four times in the seventh, and once in the eighth to steal a 7-5 win facing pitchers Miguel Gonzalez Dan Jennings, Matt Albers, Zach Duke and Nate Jones.

On Saturday, the Royals entered the bottom of the ninth down 7-1. They scored seven runs on closer David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle to win 8-7.

On Sunday, the Royals were down 4-2 after the top of the eighth. They plated three runs in the bottom half of the eighth against Jones and Albers, going on to win 5-4.

Coming into the weekend, the Royals were 24-22 in third place. The White Sox were 27-21, a half-game up in first place. Now the Royals are in first place by a game and a half, and the White Sox are in third place, two games out of first.

Here’s video of the Royals’ comeback on Saturday, since it was so unlikely:

Report: Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there”

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 24: Ryan Braun #8 of the Milwaukee Brewers waits to hit during the first inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field on May 24, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
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In Saturday’s column for The Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo notes that, according to a scout, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun is “the hot name out there.” Braun has been bothered by neck and back issues this year, missing on Sunday his eighth start out of the Brewers’ last 14 games, but he has still put up a quality .351/.424/.583 triple-slash line in 170 plate appearances this year.

More importantly for an acquiring team, Braun is in the first year of a five-year, $105 million contract. He’s earning $19 million this season and in the ensuing two seasons, and then his salary decreases slightly to $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million if both sides pick up his mutual option (else a $4 million buyout would be exercised).

Per Cafardo, the Astros, Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Mets, Giants, and White Sox are potential landing spots for Braun.