Torii Hunter, Mark Trumbo

And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

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Angels 10, Rockies 8: Mark Trumbo hit two three-run homers to help the Angels complete what was nothing short of an annihilation of the Rockies’ pitching staff. Trumbo is at .326/.380/.632. It would have been optimistic to predict those numbers from Pujols before the season started.

Nationals 4, Red Sox 3: Bryce Harper had the day off until the ninth inning when he was inserted as a pinch hitter. Drew a walk and then hauled it all the way home from first on a Roger Bernadina double that proved to be the game-winner. Washington swept Boston.

Yankees 5, Mets 4: Russell Martin hit two homers including the walkoff as the Yankees sweep the Mets after finding themselves down 3-0 in the seventh. All of the blown saves, bad defense and late-inning heroics obscured the fact that Andy Pettitte and Jon Niese both pitched really well. Especially good news for Niese after the rapid heartbeat stuff from last week.

Rangers 5, Giants 0: Tim Lincecum’s nightmare season continues. Five runs on nine hits in five and two-thirds. Bad game for the Rangers’ starter too: Alexi Ogando strained a groin running the bases. All the anti-DH people like me are sitting over in the corner, hat pulled low, trying to be inconspicuous.

Astros 11, White Sox 9: Four homers from Astros hitters. Apropos of nothing, I went to Huntington Park and watched the Columbus Clippers play the Charlotte Knights — Chicago’s Triple-A team — on Saturday night. Thing I did not know:  Pete Rose, Jr. is the first base coach of the Knights. He wears number 14, natch. Also, their manager is Joel Skinner and he got ejected in hilarious fashion. A really fun, arms waving in the air rant. Oh, and there’s a place in that park where there are paintings of all of the Columbus Clippers teams from the time they were a Yankees affiliate. This one is my favorite. My second favorite is the one with Hideki Irabu.

Dodgers 8, Mariners 2: A six-run second inning capped by an Andre Ethier grand slam. Remember when the M’s no-hit the Dodgers on Friday? Nah, me neither.

Brewers 6, Padres 5: Ryan Braun homered and drove in three. Martin Maldonado drove in three more with a homer as Milwaukee takes two of three from the lowly Padres.

Diamondbacks 4, Athletics 3: Five in a row for the Snakes and seven of eight overall. Paul Goldschmidt’s hitting streak is at 17 games.

Indians 4, Cardinals 1: Jason Kipnis — who most people don’t know but who is all kinds of awesome and you should get to know him a bit — hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the ninth. Chris Perez got the save despite basically barfing between pitches in the ninth. He blamed it on drinking warm water that “just didn’t settle well.” Maybe go with the cold next time, big guy.

Cubs 8, Twins 2: Ryan Dempster throws eight shutout innings. The other Cubs look at him like the inmates look at the inmate who’s gonna be released soon.

Pirates 3, Royals 2: Andrew McCutchen homered and drove in three runs. A.J. Burnett won his fifth straight. He’s 6-2 with a 3.61 ERA on the year and is really making it hard for those of us who think that “some guys just can’t pitch in New York” thing is baloney. Four in a row for Pittsburgh and eight of ten. Oh, and the Pirates are tied for first place now.

Blue Jays 12, Braves 4: Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus combined for six RBI at the top of the order. Atlanta had a 4-0 lead at one point in this one but nope. Braves relievers Livan Hernandez and Cristhian Martinez got whupped up on in particularly fierce fashion.

Orioles 5, Phillies 4: Baltimore beats Philly in extra innings. This is not a rerun from Saturday night. Instead of an Adam Jones homer it was a Matt Weiters double that drove home the game-winner.

Rays 4, Marlins 2: The Rays outscored the Marlins 22-7. At one point the bullpen phone didn’t work. Probably some new crazy phone technology for the new park. They should go old school like Commander Adama and insist on old school land lines.

Tigers 7, Reds 6: Aroldis Chapman came in with two men on in the eighth and the Reds up 6-3, allowed both runners to score and allowed two of his own to score in what was easily his worst appearance of the year. In other news, Angel Hernandez was behind the plate and decided that it was “mess with Ryan Ludwick” night. I’ve never seen a batter get messed with by an ump like Hernandez did with Ludwick. Everything was a strike. Like, Tigers pitchers could throw it to Newport, Kentucky and it would be a strike.

Rob Manfred on robot umps: “In general, I would be a keep-the-human-element-in-the-game guy.”

KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 5:  Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred talks with media prior to a game between the New York Mets and Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 5, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images)
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
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Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:

Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.

The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?

Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.

The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.

I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.

Report: MLB approves new rule allowing a dugout signal for an intentional walk

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred laughs during a ceremony naming the 2016 winners of the Mariano Rivera American League Reliever of the Year Award and the Trevor Hoffman National League Reliever of the Year Award before Game Four of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images
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ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.

MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.

Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.

Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: