And That Happened: Wednesday’s scores and highlights

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Rockies 6, Diamondbacks 1: I took my bike out for a spin for the first time in a while last evening. It was a nice ride on a nice night. At least apart from the crazy, over-the-handlebars wreck I got into at the corner of Alpath and Johnston Road. There were no apparent injuries at the time — not even a scrape — and I got up and rode away before anyone saw me. But as I went to bed last night my ankle became very grouchy and it hurts like the dickens this morning. It’s basically telling me “stick to the treadmill, old man.”  Meanwhile, a nearly 50 year-old man in Colorado pitched effective ball into the seventh inning and drove in two by hauling ass down to first on an infield single. Sigh.

Rangers 4, Athletics 1: I watched a lot of this and I can offer you my expert opinion: Yu Darvish is pretty good. He moves his record up to 6-1 after seven and two-thirds innings of one-run ball.  Bonus: at one point during the game the Rangers announcers had an extended conversation about the rapper B.o.B., which is something I didn’t need to hear.

Indians 9, Mariners 3: It’s not often you see a line like this from Felix Hernandez: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 3 BB and only three strikeouts. Eric Wedge after the game: “Felix just had an off-day. He’s human. I think sometimes we forget about that.” It’s easy to forget that, actually. Normally it takes only twenty, thirty questions, cross-referenced, to figure that out. With Hernandez it took 100. Wait … he doesn’t know, does he!

Marlins 8, Braves 4: Miami stays hot, notching their 12th win in 15 games in the month of May. Mike Minor has another ugly start for the Braves. Freddi Gonzalez gave him a vote of confidence after the game, but I see Gwinnett in his future.

Reds 6, Mets 3: Todd Frazier hit two homers. The second off of D.J. Carrasco, who got released right after the game. A heckuva couple of nights for Carrasco.

Astros 8, Brewers 3:  Carlos Lee drove in three and Bud Norris pitched seven strong. The Astros — who were supposed to be historically bad — and the Brewers — who were supposed to contend — have the same 16-21 record.

Blue Jays 8, Yankees 1: Hiroki Kuroda was shellacked and Kyle Drabek … wasn’t. Homers from Edwin Encarnacio, Jose Bautista, Kelly Johnson and J.C. Arencibia.

Nationals 7, Pirates 4: Adam LaRoche had a double a homer and four driven in. Gio Gonzalez struck out ten in seven innings. Four runs is something of an offensive outburst for the Pirates lately.

Phillies 9, Cubs 2: It was tied up heading into the eighth and then Philly scored seven runs in the last two innings. Hector Luna hit a grand slam and Carlos Ruiz hit a homer of his own. Meanwhile, Placido Polanco left the game in the seventh with a knee contusion. Because the Phillies need more injured infielders. The Phillies are at .500.

Twins 11, Tigers 7: Is it time to press the panic button yet?  Kinda feels like it. As was prophesied in the spring, horrible defense — every member of the Tigers infield committed an error — made Rick Porcello’s night harder than it needed to be, which is saying something given that he kinda stunk anyway. Oh, and Austin Jackson left with an injury, and he’s been hitting better than just about anyone on that squad.

Rays 2, Red Sox 1: There was a scary moment when Will Rhymes passed out after taking first base upon being hit by a pitch on the forearm in the bottom of the eighth.  As Marc Topkin reports, when he came-to, the medical staff asked him what his name was and he said “Batman.” Granted, Batman didn’t even pass out when the leader of the Mutants nearly killed him in “Dark Knight Returns,” so no fastball is gonna give him trouble, but we’ll give Rhymes credit for pluck.

Padres 4, Dodgers 2: Chase Headley homered, doubled and drove in three. If was his fifth homer of the year. Last year he hit only four.

Orioles 4, Royals 3: 0 for 6 while stranding a bunch of runners through the first 14 innings? No worries, Adam Jones hit a homer in the 15th to lift the O’s to victory in a mini-marathon. I say mini, because they had that 17 inning game against the Red Sox less than two weeks ago. I guess it’s their thing.

Cardinals 4, Giants 1: David Freese hit a go-ahead solo home run in the seventh and Skip Shumaker pinch hit in the eighth and delivered with a two-run double. Jaime Garcia struck out nine.

Angels 7, White Sox 2: More signs of life from Albert Pujols. Three hits on Tuesday and a three run homer in this one. And a study in contrasts: Jerome Williams allowed ten hits and only two runs. Gavin Floyd allowed ten hits and seven runs.


The Mets are a mess

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The Mets lost again on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 7-5 defeat at the hands of the Braves. It’s their sixth consecutive loss and the club is now in last place in the NL East. Not exactly the start the Mets envisioned.

Matt Harvey got the start, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings. He gave up six runs on five hits and five walks with only one strikeout. After the game, Harvey said he was tight and that he threw yesterday expecting to start on Friday instead, per Matt Ehalt of The Record. Sounds like no one communicated to Harvey that he’d be starting this afternoon until it was too late for him to properly prepare.

Harvey started because Noah Syndergaard was scratched due to a “tired arm.” Syndergaard blew reporters off after the game, according to Mike Puma of the New York Post. Puma then added that Syndergaard ripped Mets P.R. guy Jay Horwitz for letting reporters approach him.

By the way, the Mets also lost outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a hamstring injury. Not much else can go wrong in Queens.

Joey Votto isn’t on board with the latest fly ball trend among hitters

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If you haven’t heard, fly balls — not ground balls or line drives — are all the rage among hitters these days. Tigers outfielder J.D. Martinez summed it up perfectly last month when he said, “I’m not trying to hit a [freaking] line drive or a freaking ground ball.” The goal is to maximize damage. Last year, for example, fly balls became hits about 17 percent less often than ground balls (7.4% versus 24.6%), but hitters had a slugging percentage more than twice as much as on ground balls (.539 versus .267). This refocusing has helped hitters like Martinez as well as Ryan Zimmerman reinvigorate their careers.

Reds first baseman Joey Votto, who is as much a student of new age analytics as anyone in the game, doesn’t feel that this approach is necessarily a good one, as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto said:

Where I get concerned is the guys that make this attempt and burn out too much of their time and don’t get a chance to be their best selves, and either don’t make it to the big leagues or don’t perform their best in the big leagues because they’re always attempting this new style of hitting. I see it with a lot of guys. Everyone tells the good stories, but there’s a lot of s—ty stories of guys who are wasting their time trying things.

Votto added that while the fly ball approach is working right now, pitchers will soon adapt and the fly ball approach won’t be so good anymore. And he’s right. Baseball has always been a game of adjustments. For example, as teams have gotten comfortable with shifting their infield, hitters like the Cubs’ Anthony Rizzo and Kyle Schwarber have both dropped bunts down the third base line for easy hits. Knowing that hitters are aiming to hit fly balls now, pitchers may stay higher in the strike zone more often as one possible solution.

Votto is just trying to stay as well-rounded as possible. He says that he wants to become “unpitchable.” Votto wants to be like Angels outfielder Mike Trout, whom he describes as a guy “who can do absolutely anything he wants” and “at all times [has] all options.”

So far, Votto is having another productive season despite a relatively pedestrian batting average and on-base percentage. He’s hitting .238/.330/.563 with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 94 plate appearances. Coincidentally, he’s been hitting way more fly balls than usual as he’s currently carrying a 42.3 percent rate compared to his 33.1 career average, according to FanGraphs. His line drives are way down to 16.9 percent compared to his 25.4 percent career average.