And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Cardinals 4, Padres 0: Tough break for San Diego to have Adam Wainwright figure it out and throw a four-hit shutout while they were in town, but I really do need them to go on a bad skid right now. I’m taking my kids to their first major league game when we go to San Diego next month — Rangers-Padres on June 18! —  and it would be really useful for me if the secondary market was flooded with cheap, unwanted tickets.

Nationals 5, Phillies 2: A lot of folks in the Bryce Harper/Philly threads of the past few days have said stuff about how, for all of the talk, this isn’t truly a rivalry. I tend to agree. For it to be a real rivalry, one team can’t dominate the matchups so thoroughly. The Nats take the fourth of five meetings so far this year, and have beaten Philly six straight times in Citizens Bank Park. Harper singled, tripled and drove in two.

Reds 4, Braves 3: Brandon Phillips hit two homers and Brandon Beachy backs up his best start of the season with his worst (7 IP, 6 H, 4 ER). Not that it was horrible. You can get a win with a line like that, but Mat Latos was better (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K). Michael Bourn had two home runs in a losing cause. In case you haven’t noticed it, Bourn — a Boras clients — is making himself some serious bank in his walk year (.323/.376/.439, 13 SB and the usual solid D).

Mets 3, Pirates 2: R.A. Dickey struck out 11 in seven innings, which was a career high. Which means that in the space of five days the Pirates were dominated by one of the the hardest throwing starters in baseball in Justin Verlander and one of the softest throwing in Dickey. The Pirates offense is like some weird scientific control group or something. A time trial. They’re setting the bogey for every pitcher in baseball, and there’s something damn noble about that.

Twins 9, White Sox 2: Twins fans aren’t quite sure what to make of a starting pitcher who goes deep into games and strikes out a lot of batters, but they’ll accept what they got from P.J. Walters last night (CG, 5 H, 2 ER, 8K).

Marlins 7, Rockies 6: Nolasco vs. Nicasio! With special referee Tom Nieto!  On hand were Chris Nabholz, Russ Nagelson and Cholly NaranjoTsuyoshi Nishioka sends his regrets from Rochester.

Astros 2, Cubs 1: The Astros gotta be the most respectable team everyone thought would lose 100+ games in history, right? Jose Altuve with a homer, Brett “trade for me because I’m a proven closer, I swear” Myers got his 11th save.

Rays 8, Blue Jays 5: Carlos Pena was moved to the leadoff spot and had two hits, including a homer. Dude: you’re a table setter. Make things happen. Home runs kill rallies. Hasn’t anyone ever told you that?

Yankees 3, Royals 2: New York is lucky they won this one. Because I have it on good authority that all of those hacks who write “If the Boss was alive …” columns when the Yankees struggle are in the process of actually reanimating Steinbrenner’s corpse and unleashing him on the populace. He’ll have a hunger for brains. And calzones. But mostly brains.

Indians 5, Tigers 3: Cleveland ends a ten-game losing streak to the Tigers. Andy Dirks had two hits in the two-hole and Miguel Cabrera was walked three times batting third. Prince Fielder was 0 for 5, however.

Orioles 4, Red Sox 1; Brian Matusz struck out nine in six and a third as the Red Sox managed only two hits all damn night. I think it would be hilarious now if Josh Beckett called a closed-door meeting in which the pitchers yelled at the Red Sox hitters, after which Beckett came out and told the press that he’s totally a leader. And if he had the whole press conference while wearing Payne Stewart-style golf pants.

Giants 6, Brewers 4: Giancarlo Stanton, nothin’: Buster Posey homered off the Miller Park scoreboard. He also hit a double and blocked the plate to prevent a run, which is something he was told not to do, but hey, heat of battle, yo.  The Giants have won eight of eleven.

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 7: Down one in the ninth inning and down to their last out, the Dodgers Ivan De Jesus hit a two-run double, completing the comeback after being down 6-1 in the sixth inning. It was the Dodgers’ sixth straight win. The Dbacks’ bullpen work was reminiscent of 2010.

Rangers 3, Mariners 1:  Elvis Andrus tripled home two runs in the third, but it was one of only four hits for the Rangers who won this one with pitching and defense. Matt Harrison tied up the M’s (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER) and Josh Hamilton made two pretty spectacular plays in the outfield, robbing Seattle of hits.

Angels 5, Athletics 1: C.J. Wilson probably figured before the game “heck, our offense stinks, but if the other guys can’t score, they can’t win.”  So he shut out the A’s on one hit over eight innings. A homer and a sacrifice fly for Pujols.

Rival Executives Expect Justin Verlander To Hit The Trading Block

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About a month ago, a report circulated that if the Detroit Tigers weren’t above .500 by the end of June, they were going to chuck the season, look to trade off veterans and rebuild. It’s now June 29 and the Tigers are 34-42 and sit six games out of first place.

As such, we should not be too terribly surprised to see a report from Jeff Passan of Yahoo that multiple baseball executives expect Tigers ace Justin Verlander to hit the trade market sometime in the next two weeks. Passan notes that the Tigers haven’t formally offered him and that he’s just passing along speculation from rivals, but it’s pretty astute speculation.

The question is what the Tigers can get for Verlander. On the one hand, yes, Verlander is Verlander and has been one of the top starters in baseball for a decade. While he had struggled for a bit, last year featured a return to Cy Young form. He still has a blazing fastball and there is no reason to think he could not anchor the staff of a playoff caliber team.

On the other hand, as Passan notes, his 2017 has been . . . not so good. He looks amazing at times and very hittable at other times. Overall his walk rate is way up and his strikeout rate is down. There doesn’t appear to be anything physically wrong with him — various ailments contributed to his 2014-15 swoon — so it’s possible he’s just had a rough couple of months. Like I said, Verlander is Verlander, and it may not be a bad gamble to expect him to run off a string of dominant starts like he has so many times in the past.

The problem, though, is that anyone acquiring Verlander is not just gambling on a handful of starts down the stretch. They’re gambling on the $56 million he’s owed between 2018 and 2019 and the $22 million extra he’ll be guaranteed for 2020 if he finishes in the top five in Cy Young voting in 2019. Those would be his age 35, 36 and 37 seasons. There are certainly worse gambles in baseball, but it’s a gamble all the same.

If the Tigers don’t find any gamblers out there on the market, they’re going to have to make a gamble of their own: let Verlander go and get relatively little in return if another club picks up that $56 million commitment or eat it themselves and get prospects back in return to help kickstart a rebuild. Personally I’d go with the latter option, but I don’t work for the Illitch family.

 

There is a Tyler glut in baseball

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It’s a slow news morning — Miguel Montero is gone and everyone else is quiet — so you should go read Tyler Kepner’s latest column over at the New York Times. It’s, appropriately, about Tylers.

There are a lot of them in baseball now, Tyler notes. No Larrys and hardly any Eddies or Bobs. This obviously tracks the prevalence of the name Tyler in the population at large and the declines in Larrys, Eddies and Bobs. It’s the kind of thing I imagine we’ve all noticed from time to time, and it’s fun to do it in baseball. For his part, Kepner tries to make an all-Tyler All-Star team. The results are sort of sad.

There are always one or two Craigs floating around baseball from time to time, but not many more than that. We got a Hall of Famer recently, so that’s pretty nice. There will likely be fewer over time, as Craig — never even a top-30 name in popularity — is now near historic lows. I’m not complaining, though. I never once had to go by “Craig C.” in class to differentiate myself from other Craigs. Our biggest problem is being called Greg. We tend to let it pass. Craigs are used to it by now.