And That Happened: Thursday’s scores and highlights

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Rays 4, Angels 3: Pinch hit walkoff bomb from Brandon Allen to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Albert Pujols got a hit but he was thrown out at second trying to stretch it into a double. I think that’s what the fancy commentators on those evening baseball television programs call “pressing.” The Angels are nine games back of the Rangers already which, dude, wow.

Mariners 5, Tigers 4: As my Twitter friend Grey said yesterday: “Brandon Inge is gone and the Tigers still have 24 other guys who have also struggled this week! woooooo!” Yeah, not a week to write home about if you’re the Tigers. Which is worse considering they were at home for all of it. Chone Figgins was 3 for 4 with an RBI double. If Chone Figgins is kicking your butt, you gotta look in a mirror.

Royals 4, Indians 2: Break up the Royals, they’re on a winning streak!  Two straight for Kansas City. Alex Gordon after the game: “”We can’t lose now. It’s unbelievable.”  Yes, he actually said that.

Orioles 5, Blue Jays 2: Brian Matusz went six allowing two runs — but neither were earned — as the O’s sweep the Jays and take their fourth straight overall. You know who’s happy Albert Pujols is struggling so much? Jose Bautista. Because not that many people are paying attention to his .194/.349/.343 line.

Mets 3, Marlins 2: Rule of thumb: if you closer comes in to a one-run game and throws 46 pitches, he’s not having a good day and you’re not winning. Heath Bell threw 46 pitches, he was not having a good day and the Marlins didn’t win.

Giants 6, Reds 5: I hit the ending of this one up yesterday. In the comments to that post someone suggested that I pointed out the fact that Angel Pagan — who hit what proved to be the game-winning three-run homer — should have struck out but for the bad call because “you still can’t get over the fact that the Giants beat your Braves in the 2010 DS. Stop hating and give a little credit.”  Yes, that’s exactly why I pointed that out. You got me. I’ve been harboring my hate for the Giants for over a year and a half and finally — finally! — found my chance to pounce.

Red Sox 10, White Sox 3: I’m sure someone has done a study of how dudes do after throwing a perfecto, and I imagine they do quite poorly on average. Maybe not as poorly as Phil Humber did, though (5 IP, 8 H, 9 ER). Saltalamacchia hit two homers.

Padres 2, Nationals 1: Edinson Volquez gave up one run over seven. Which was one more than Edwin Jackson gave up over six, but Volquez had a better bullpen on his side last night.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

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All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉