And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Reds 9, Nationals 6: Joey Votto hit three homers including a walkoff grand slam.  Yeah, that’ll play. The back end of the Nats bullpen continues to be horrific.

Marlins 8, Mets 4: Earlier in the day Giancarlo Stanton hit a walkoff slam of his own capping a six-run bottom of the ninth for Miami. Heath Bell got the decision despite giving up two in the top of the ninth. Guess he just knows how to win.

Phillies 3, Padres 2: Cole Hamels got an extra day of rest and then got to face one of the worst offenses in baseball. How is that punishment again? Hamels allowed one run over seven innings and apparently didn’t have to welcome any rookies to the big leagues with Old School Baseball.

Braves 7, Cardinals 4: The sweep. Several HBT regulars attended this series this weekend in a mini-meetup.  Of course I suck so I didn’t go even though they asked me nicely and scheduled it for a Braves weekend to entice me. Did I mention I suck?  Braves don’t, though.  They’re looking pretty damn spiffy right now, yes? Lance Lynn takes his first loss of the year.

Giants 7, Diamondbacks 3: And they said a Melky Cabrera/Gregor Blanco-powered offense couldn’t get it done. Four hits for Melky, three driven in for Blanco. Ponder why Melky is always referred to by his first name all the time and Blanco isn’t. Like that’s fair.

Dodgers 11, Rockies 5: A.J. Ellis drove in four and the Dodgers managed 11 runs on only eight hits. But ruh-roh Raggy: Matt Kemp aggravated his hammy.

Tigers 3, Athletics 1: Leave it to the big man to salvage the split. Justin Verlander allowed one run and struck out eight over seven innings. Clearly the reason for the A’s loss was an Inge deficit disorder, as he was given the day off.

Twins 4, Blue Jays 3: Seven shutout innings for Scott Diamond, who has two of the teams ten wins despite only joining the team a week ago.

Cubs 8, Brewers 2: A homer for Ian Stewart and a pinch hit homer for Reed Johnson. They still count the same, though. Those are the rules. Chicago wins its first game in Milwaukee in over a year.

Royals 9, White Sox 1: Close until the ninth when Robin Ventura got all walk-the-bases-loaded happy for some reason.

Pirates 3, Astros 2: Wandy Rodriguez deserved better. He threw eight innings of one run ball, but A.J. Burnett was nearly as a good and the Houston closer — well, Brett Myers — couldn’t hold the one run lead. Onto extras where Josh Harrison did some first-pitch swinging in the 12th and drove home the winning run on an RBI single.

Red Sox 12, Indians 1: The Sox sent nine men to the plate in the first inning, more or less setting the tone.  Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered and drove in five. Three straight for Boston, turning a hot mess into a merely warm mess.

Rays 9, Orioles 8: Tampa Bay had a 7-1 lead and the O’s chipped back with three in the sixth and two in the seventh to get within one, the Rays scored a couple, the O’s scored a couple of their own but the Rays just hung on to salvage one in the series. Baltimore is still in first place. I don’t know how long they’ll stay there. I do know, however, that they are going to be a gigantic pain in the ass for everyone this year, and O’s fans have to love that.

Mariners 6, Yankees 2: Andy Pettitte’s return was underwhelming, allowing four runs on seven hits in six and a third. Kevin Millwood, meanwhile, took care of business, allowing only one in seven. Three driven in by Casper Wells, who began the day posing for a pic with his mom, who has a pretty sweet M’s shirt.

Rangers 13, Angels 6:  Remember back in March when people were saying that the Angels were the favorites in the West? Haha, yeah, that was fun. Josh Hamilton drives in three more. Nelson Cruz drives in four. The Rangers are eight games up on the Angels and have a +80 run differential.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.